Irina Bokova recalls UNESCO's commitment to the imperative need of Holocaust Education
The Director-General, Irina Bokova, welcomed the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Mr Rosen Plevneliev, as the guest of honor at the ceremony of the Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, on 28 January 2013, under the theme “The courage to care: Rescue during the Holocaust”.
“We must reflect on the causes and consequences of this moral collapse in order to build, through better knowledge of the past, the conditions for lasting peace,” highlighted the Director-General.
She emphasized that UNESCO's commitment is guided by the conviction that "remembering the fallen can guide the living on the path of peace”.
The President of Bulgaria voiced his pride in the civil society of his country, which took courageous action to prevent the deportation of 48 000 Jews during WW II, saving from deportation the entire Jewish community in Bulgaria at that time.
“Defining and teaching the critical lessons of the Holocaust is fundamental to the full exercise of human rights, basic freedoms and the values of tolerance and respect,” added President Plevneliev.
"Let us never accept or tolerate injustice, and never stop investing our hearts and energy into creating a more harmonious and prosperous world, in which cultural diversity is treasured, tolerance is a shared value and humanism is held high. UNESCO plays a critical role in that regard,” President Plevneliev concluded.
The ceremony was attended by the French Minister of Education, Vincent Peillon, the President of the Mémorial de la Shoah (Paris), Eric de Rothschild, and the Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Israel to UNESCO, Nimrod Barkan.
On the same day, the Director-General and the President visited the Shoah Memorial in Paris, one of UNESCO’s leading partner-organization in Holocaust-related activities, to lay wreaths in memory of the Holocaust victims. The high-ranking delegation also visited the three exhibitions that were organized at UNESCO Headquarters, focusing on "Resistance and Rescue in Denmark" facilitated by the Shoah Memorial; the exhibition kindly jointly lent by the National Archives of Bulgaria and Yad Vashem entitled "Rescue 1943", as well as the exhibition on the theme of "Rescue: protecting Humanity during the Holocaust" lent by the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation Institute.
The Day of the Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust also featured a high-level round-table of experts organized jointly by UNESCO and the Office of the United Nations Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide on Holocaust Education and the Prevention of Genocide, the latter represented by United Nations Under-Secretary General Mr Adama Dieng. The round-table was supported by the Kingdom of Belgium and addressed the challenges of education and curricula development about the Holocaust and the mainstreaming of genocide prevention.