United Nations Will Honour Holocaust Survivors, Brave Rescuers Who Saved

Jewish Lives, in Events to Be Staged Worldwide

The United Nations will mark the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust this month by staging events around the world in recognition of the courage and compassion of the many rescuers of all faiths and nationalities who saved the lives of Jews and others during that period.

Centred on the theme “Rescue during the Holocaust:  The Courage to Care”, the Department of Public Information’s Holocaust Programme will organize a week of remembrance activities, culminating on 25 January with the annual two-hour Holocaust Memorial Ceremony in the General Assembly Hall.

The ceremony, to be hosted by Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, will begin at 11 a.m.  It will include a video message from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, followed by a statement delivered by Raymond Serge Balé, Permanent Representative of Congo to the Untied Nations and Vice-President of the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly, on behalf of Assembly President Vuk Jeremić.  Ron Prosor, Permanent Representative of Israel, and Signe Burgstaller, Deputy Permanent Representative of Sweden, will also make statements.

Cantor Chaim David Berson of the Jewish Center in New York City will recite the memorial prayers, and the Motyl Chamber Ensemble will perform three musical pieces.  The New York City-based group — which includes musicians Julie Artz Becker and Aleeza Wadler on violin, Ellen Rose Silver on cello, and Anoush Simonian on viola — presents music written by composers who were forced into exile or who perished during the Holocaust.

Narrators will relate the heroic stories of four rescuers:  United States journalist Varian Fry, who helped thousands escape Vichy-controlled France; Italian civilian Lorenzo Perrone, who saved the life of his fellow Italian, author Primo Levi, during his imprisonment at Auschwitz; Polish social worker Irena Sendler, who worked through the underground organization Zegota to smuggle Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto and find them safe hiding places; and the Veselis, Albanian Muslims who saved the lives of a Jewish family, the Mandils, by hiding them in their own home.

Thirty United Nations information centres — from Santa Fé de Bogota to Bujumbura and from Tashkent to Yangon — are scheduled to hold 70 commemorative events.  The United Nations Holocaust Programme has assembled an educational package, in partnership with the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, to help the centres disseminate information about the rescues in local schools.  The package includes posters, a teacher’s guide, student handouts and an English-language documentary film produced in French, Spanish and Russian by the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, the United Nations Regional Centre in Brussels, as well as the United Nations information centres in Buenos Aires and Moscow, in cooperation with the United Nations Holocaust Programme.

The documentary, titled The Rescuers, directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Michael King and produced by Joyce D. Mandell, chronicles the heroic efforts of a dozen diplomats who used their powers and privileges to save the lives of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust.  It will be shown in the Economic and Social Council Chamber at United Nations Headquarters in New York on the evening of 23 January, in the presence of diplomats from the countries profiled in the film.  The event is co-sponsored by the United States Mission to the United Nations and the Sousa Mendes Foundation.

The following day, in Conference Room 6 at New York Headquarters, the Department’s Non-Governmental Organization Relations Cluster will hold a morning briefing for non-governmental organizations accredited to the United Nations, on the subject of the rescue of Danish Jews during the Holocaust.

In Addition, two exhibitions on rescue will be on view in the United Nations Visitors Lobby from 18 January to 18 February 2013.  The first, “The World Knew — Jan Karski’s Mission for Humanity”, has been produced by the Polish History Museum in partnership with Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Jan Karski Educational Foundation.  The second exhibition, “Whoever Saves a Single Life… Rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust”, was produced by the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous.

The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme was established by General Assembly resolution 60/7 in 2005.  It produces print and online educational materials and organizes exhibitions, film screenings, round-table discussions and other events throughout the year.  The Programme also coordinates the worldwide observance of the annual Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January.

For more information, please contact Kimberly Mann at e-mail:  [email protected].

For media accreditation, please contact the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit at tel.:  +1 212 963 6937, or e-mail:  [email protected], or visit www.un.org/en/media/accreditation.  Guests may view details about the week’s events and register for the memorial ceremony until 22 January, at www.un.org/holocaustremembrance.
United Nations security requires photo identification to pass through the visitors’ entrance at 46th Street and First Avenue in New York City

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