Every year around 27 January, UNESCO pays tribute to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and reaffirms its unwavering commitment to counter antisemitism, racism, and other forms of intolerance that may lead to group-targeted violence. The date marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau by Soviet troops on 27 January 1945. It was officially proclaimed, in November 2005, International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust by the United Nations General Assembly.
The Holocaust profoundly affected countries in which Nazi crimes were perpetrated, with universal implications and consequences in many other parts of the world. Member States share a collective responsibility for addressing the residual trauma, maintaining effective remembrance policies, caring for historic sites, and promoting education, documentation and research, more than seven decades after the genocide. This responsibility entails educating about the causes, consequences and dynamics of such crimes so as to strengthen the resilience of young people against ideologies of hatred. As genocide and atrocity crimes keep occurring across several regions, and as we are witnessing a global rise of antisemitism and hate speech, this has never been so relevant.
Keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive is the fulfilment of a universal duty, a duty to humanity, which is UNESCO's raison d'être: uprooting hatred, building peace, and, thus, protecting humanity. On this International Day, let us commit to always remembering. We owe it to the victims of the Shoah, we owe it to the survivors, we owe it, finally, to all the generations to come.
Audrey AzoulayDirector-General of UNESCO