UN General Assembly president honors Holocaust victims, calls on world to remember

09:01, February 11, 2011      

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UN General Assembly President Joseph Deiss on Thursday called upon the international community to preserve Holocaust remembrance as a rampart against denial.

The president's statement marked the observance of the international day of commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The General Assembly ceremony marking the event was originally scheduled to take place on Jan. 27, but due to inclement weather in New York, the event was moved to Thursday.

The Holocaust was the systematic persecution and execution of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime that came to power in Germany in January 1933. The memorial day coincides with the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

All over the world, Auschwitz has become a symbol of terror, genocide, and the Holocaust. It was established by the Nazis in 1940, in the suburbs of the Polish city of Oswiecim, which, like other parts of Poland, was occupied by the Germans during the Second World War. The name of the city of Oswiecim was changed to Auschwitz, which became the name of the notorious concentration camp as well.

"Remembrance builds a rampart against denial. We must face the crude reality of crimes against humanity and strengthen our resolve for such crimes to never repeat," said Deiss.

"Remembrance, however, is no substitute for vigilance," he said.

"The forces of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice are still at work around the world. We must foster a culture of peace, of tolerance and of respect. We have to stand up against the follies of genocides that have repeated throughout history," he added.

Established by a 2005 resolution of the General Assembly, the International Day of Commemoration of the Holocaust is designated "to face the dark chapters of the past and to pass on lessons to future generations," said Deiss.

In remembrance, UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon called on the international community to work together to prevent genocide and impunity.

"Let us pledge to create a world where such atrocities can never be repeated," Ban said.

"Only by working together can we prevent genocide and end impunity. By educating new generations about this terrible episode of our history, we can help to uphold human dignity for all," he added.

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