Irina Bokova in Auschwitz-Birkenau for a historic intercultural gathering
On 1 February 2011, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, visits the Auschwitz-Birkenau site while on an intercultural journey organized as part of the Aladdin Project, sponsored by UNESCO, together with a delegation of more than 150 eminent persons from around the world, leaders and representatives from the Middle East, Africa, the United States of America and Europe.
The Director-General is accompanied, among others, by Mr Bertrand Delanoë, Mayor of Paris, Mr Abdoulaye Wade, President of the Republic of Senegal and Chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Ms Asha-Rose Migiro, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Ms Anne-Marie Revcolevschi, President of the Aladdin Project.
The delegation also includes Sheikha Haya Rashed al-Khalifa of Bahrain, Mr Gerhard Schröder, former German Chancellor, Mr Mohamed Vall, former President of Mauritania, and representatives of the Heads of State of France, Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan and Turkey. The mayors of 12 cities in Europe, Africa and the Middle East will also be travelling there.
The purpose of the visit is to convey a unanimous message to combat Holocaust denial and all forms of racism. “The Holocaust does not concern not only one people or only one region of the world. The Holocaust concerns us all. All politicians, all intellectuals, all religious leaders in every country of the world must come together for the rapprochement of cultures and to combat the denial of that genocide”, the Director-General said.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau site has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1979. It is the only site that has been included by States Parties with an explicit aim of ensuring transmission to and the duty of remembrance among future generations. Irina Bokova has also said: “As the survivors die out, it is essential to preserve memory by protecting documents and visiting the sites of the genocide of the Jews in order to understand and to learn lessons from that ignominy”.
UNESCO started its Holocaust education programme in 1997. The Organization develops educational material and approaches to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive and provides teaching resources for the general public and teachers. In the context of its work to encourage Holocaust remembrance, UNESCO published a handbook in 2010 to assist teachers in sub-Saharan Africa in dealing with this subject in the classroom and is holding a training worship at Beit Berl, Israel, for teachers in UNESCO Associated Schools in Israel, Canada and Germany. UNESCO is affiliated to the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research.
- Auschwitz-Birkenau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- International Holocaust Remembrance Day (27 January)
- Aladdin Project – Building bridges of knowledge between Jews and Muslims
- Video highlight of the visit