01.10.2012 - ODG

The Director-General pays tribute to the memory of Shlomo Venezia, a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau

It was with deep sadness that the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, learned of the passing of Mr Shlomo Venezia, a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau, who died in Rome at the age of 88.

"Shlomo Venezia was an exceptional and tireless witness of this dark period of history. He dedicated many years of his life telling his story in Italy and throughout Europe to serve as a warning for the future. He influenced a whole generation of young people, teachers and historians, thanks to his deep loyalty to the memory of the deceased. All those who knew him were struck by his modesty and his strength of character," said Irina Bokova. 

"His death is a call to intensify efforts for educating and transmitting the history of the Holocaust around the world". 

In her name and on behalf of UNESCO, the Director-General expressed her deepest condolences to his wife, Marika Venezia, their family and loved ones.

Mr. Venezia was one of the few survivors of the Sonderkommando, or special units, in charge of emptying the gas chambers and burning the corpses during the Holocaust at Auschwitz-Birkenau. He shared his experience at UNESCO on 26 January 2011, on the occasion of the International Day of the Commemoration in the Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. Born into a poor family in Salonika, Greece, Shlomo Venezia was arrested at the age of 21, in March 1944, and deported with his family to Auschwitz-Birkenau where he lost his mother and two sisters. Assigned with his brother Maurice to the Sonderkommando, Shlomo Venezia survived six months at the heart of the death machine set up by the Nazis to destroy the Jewish people.

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