04.07.2014 - UNESCOPRESS

UNESCO honors the laureates of the 10th annual Russian University Holocaust Essay Competition

© SWC Director Dr. Shimon Samuels

“Holocaust is not just the past. For us it is a way also to look at the present, look in the global context in terms of human rights, civil rights, human dignity and to counter some contemporary forms of anti-Semitism,” said the Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova, marking the Tenth Edition of the Russian Holocaust Essay Contest, organized by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and the Association "Verbe et Lumiere" at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

The Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova congratulated the five laureates of the Tenth Edition of the Russian Holocaust Essay Contest, organised by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and the Association "Verbe et Lumiere," in presence of Shimon Samuels, Director for International Relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Ilya Altman, Director of the Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Centre (RHC), Richard Odier, President of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre - Europe, Alla Gerber, Member of Special Chamber and co-Chairman of the Russian Holocaust Centre (RHC); Israeli Ambassador to UNESCO Nimrod Barkan; Rabbi P. Bebe, CRIF President Roger Cukierman; Verbe et Lumiere Alexandre Kaplan, and Researcher from the Russian Government Archive of Economic History Maria Altman.

Representantives of the Permanent delegations of Germany, Russia, Belarus and Canada were also in attendance.

The Director-General stressed the paramount importance of Holocaust Education  “to every society and to every individual” in order to advance respect for human rights and human dignity.

CRIF President Roger Cukierman praised the three organizations-organizers of this event - SWC, "Verbe et Lumiere" and UNESCO – for their work in Holocaust education and defense of human values. He noted the rise in anti-Semitism all over Europe and the growing popularity of extreme-left and extreme-right parties. Dr. Cukierman emphasized the need to find ways to live together peacefully and underscored that religion should not be used to foster hatred, but rather as a means to promote tolerance and peace.

Russian Holocaust Centre Director, Dr. Ilya Altman, introduced the five laureates and noted that next year’s ceremony would be conducted in partnership with Yad Vashem in Israel.

The ceremony featured presentations of abstracts of the laureates essays addressing specific dimensions of the Holocaust, from art to the legal prosecution of anti-Semitism in the present days. This year, over 2,000 submissions from all over the former Soviet Union were judged by the competition coordinator, the Russian Holocaust Centre (RHC) in Moscow.

The five winners were invited to UNESCO  by the French Association Verbe et Lumiиre - Vigilance founded by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre - Europe.

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