Journeys Through the Holocaust

27 January marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi German Concentration and Extermination Camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau by the Soviet troops in 1945. This date was proclaimed International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust by the United Nations General Assembly. 

The Holocaust was a defining moment in the history of humanity. The Nazi regime and its collaborators systematically murdered about six million Jewish men, women and children during the Second World War, in a continent-wide programme of destruction of all Jewish communities that would fall within its grasp. Driven by a fundamentally racist ideology, Nazi Germany also persecuted and killed millions of other people (Roma and Sinti, some of the Slavic people, and the disabled)  because they were considered as “racially inferior”, and others because of political, ideological or behavioural reasons.

We, the last survivors of the Holocaust, are now disappearing one by one. Soon history will speak about it with the impersonal voice of scholars and novelists, at worst, with the malevolent voice of falsifiers and deniers. This process has already begun. The United Nations international day of commemoration of holocaust victims is a vital link in the transmission of that awesome legacy to our fellow men – Jews and non-Jews alike. Unless we give it, through remembrance and education, the place and attention it deserves, and begin, collectively, to respect the core of universal values inherent in all great creeds – spiritual and secular – the forces of darkness may return with a vengeance to haunt us again.   

Samuel Pisar, survivor, international lawyer, UNESCO Honorary Ambassador, Special Envoy for Holocaust and Genocide Education

UNESCO believes that it is essential to learn about the history of the Holocaust in order to better understand the causes of societies’ descent into genocide and to raise awareness about the need to nurture peace and human rights to prevent mass violence in today’s world. The International Day is an opportunity to reach out to Member States and the public at large in a common endeavour to commemorate the victims and their legacy and in a global effort to alert young generations about the dangers of racist and fanatic ideologies.

Holocaust Education

Teaching and learning about the Holocaust calls attention to issues that are central in UNESCO’s mission to build peace and to promote of human rights. UNESCO works with its Member States in an effort to develop educational programmes to teach young generations the lessons of the Holocaust in order to help prevent future acts of genocide, in line with the United Nations General Assembly resolution 60/7 and UNESCO General Conference resolution 61 on “Holocaust remembrance”.


UNESCO Headquarters, Paris France

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CEREMONY, Monday, 27 January 2014, UNESCO Paris (Room I)

7:30pm  (Room 1)


Reading by Irène Jacob of La préface en prose (1942) by Benjamin Fondane


  • Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
  • Eric de Rothschild, President of the Shoah Memorial
  • H.E. Mr Michael Worbs, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Germany to UNESCO
  • H.E. Mr Nimrod Barkan, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Israel to UNESCO 

Reading by Irène Jacob of The Song of the Murdered Jewish People (1943) by Yitskhok Katzenelson

Guest of honour

  • H.E. Mr János Lázár, Minister of State heading the Prime Minister's Office of Hungary, President of the International Commission of the Hungarian Holocaust Memorial Year 2014

Great witness

  • Yisrael Meir Lau, Survivor, President of Yad Vashem and Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv (Israel)

Theatrical and Musical Show

  •  Haïm - by the light of a violin, Company C(h)aracteres, created by Gérald Garutti
    This show tells the real life of Haïm Lipsky, a Polish Jew born in Lodz in a poor working class family, who became violinist thanks to his willing, and was saved from concentration hell by his music. Upon leaving the camp, Haïm dropped the Polish language and music, henceforth conversing only in two languages: Yiddish and silence. Today, 91 years old Haim speaks Hebrew, and almost all of his children and great-children have become international musicians.  
  • With : Mélanie Doutey, storyteller, Naaman Sluchin, violinist, Alexis Kune, accordionist, Samuel Maquin, clarinettist


  • El Male Rachamim and Kaddish by Adolphe Attia, Officiating Minister
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EXHIBITIONS, 27 January to 13 February, UNESCO, Paris

9:30am - 5:30pm

  • Journeys through the Holocaust
    Exhibition of video testimonies of refugees, created by the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation in cooperation with UNESCO
    - Room: Miro 3
  • In the Footsteps of the Lost  
    Photographies by Matt Mendelsohn, prepared by the Shoah Memorial
    - Pas Perdus Room
  • The World Knew: Jan Karski’s Mission for Humanity     
    Exhibition created by the Polish History Museum in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland and the Jan Karski Educational Foundation, proposed by the Delegation of Poland to UNESCO - Salle des Actes
  • Shoa Survivors : Courage, Determination, Life   
    Paintings by Alain Husson-Dumoutier, UNESCO Artist for Peace
    - Pas Perdus Room
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SIDE EVENTS: Organised by UNESCO Permanent Delegations - UNESCO, Paris

  • Screening of the film Regina (2013) by Diana Groó (63’), story of the first ordained woman rabbi in the world Permanent Delegation of Hungary to UNESCO 
    - Room IV, from 12:30am to 2:00pm

  • Screening of the film Kisses to the children (2011) by Vassilis Loules(115’) by the Permanent Delegation of Greece to UNESCO
    - Room II, from 5:00pm to 7:00pm
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CONFERENCE: The impact of Holocaust Education: How to Assess Policies and Practices? - UNESCO, Paris (Room IV)

(From: 2:30pm to 6:30pm)


Opening speeches:

  • Qian Tang, Assistant Director General for Education, UNESCO
  • Eckhardt Fuchs, Deputy Director of the Georg Eckert Institute For International Textbooks Research(Germany)
  • H.E. Mrs Katalin Bogyay, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Hungary to UNESCO

Key-note speaker : Steven Katz, Director of the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies, Boston University, Adviser of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)


Session 1 - From Advocacy to Policy: The Holocaust in Textbooks and Curricula

Moderator: Clementina Acedo, Director of the International Bureau of Education (IBE), UNESCO

  • Creating Effective Education about the Holocaust: Bringing Research and Advocacy into Dialogue by Doyle Stevick, Associate Professor, University of South Carolina (USA), University of Tartu (Estonia)
  •  The International Status of Holocaust Education: Mapping Curricula and Assessing Textbooks: Initial Results of the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbooks Research and UNESCO study by Peter Carrier, Researcher at the Georg Eckert Institute (Germany)
  • Overview of the French situation by Claude Singer, Director of Education, Shoah Memorial
  •  Introducing the Holocaust in the Argentinean Curriculum: Assessing the first Years by Pablo Luzuriaga, Historian, Programme ‘Education and Memory’, Ministry of Education (Argentina)
  •  The Holocaust in Hungarian Textbooks and Curricula: Recent Evolutions and Discussions, by Andrea Szönyi, Zachor Foundation for Social Remembrance, University of South California Shoah Foundation (United States, Hungary)

 4:40 pm BREACK


Session 2 - Holocaust Education from Policy to Practice: Classroom Instruction and Professional Development  

  • Moderator: Eyal Kaminka, Director, International School for Holocaust Studies, Yad Vashem (Israel)
  • From Pedagogical Research to Classroom Practice, the Experience of England by Stuart Foster, Executive Director, National Centre for Holocaust Education, University of London (United Kingdom)
  • Understanding Polish Teachers’ Motivations to Engage with the History of the Holocaust by Magdalena Gross, PhD Candidate, Stanford University (USA, Poland) 
  • Measuring Holocaust Knowledge and its Impact by Jack Jedwab, Executive Director, Association for Canadian Studies (Canada)  
  • South African Learners engaging the Holocaust by Tracey Petersen, Director of Education, Cape Town Holocaust Centre (South Africa)


  • Conclusion by Soo Hyang Choi, Director of the Division of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development, UNESCO



The Survivors of the Holocaust

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon message