“Liberty, Life and Legacy of the Holocaust Survivors”.

27 January 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Over 1.1 million people were killed in Auschwitz, including nearly 1 million Jews and tens of thousands of Poles, Roma and Sinti, Soviet prisonners of war and political opponents from all over Europe. 

A testament of our respect to those who survived and a tribute to the memory of the victims, this International Day is also is a call for action. 

UNESCO was established in the wake of the Holocaust on the conviction that lasting peace must draw on the mutual understanding of peoples and cultures, nurtured through education and knowledge sharing, in ways that highlight the best of humanity in ourselves. The Holocaust has shown us the worst of ourselves, and remembrance of the victims must accompany us in our quest for a world where such horrors will never reoccur.   

Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General

It is an opportunity for Member States to engage in further efforts against antisemitism and racism, and to develop educational programmes that will help preventing similar atrocities from occurring in the future. Education has a vital role to play in fostering a culture of prevention, undermining prejudice, promoting peaceful co-existence and human rights, and cultivating respect for all peoples. 

The further the genocide recedes in time, and as the last survivors pass on, the greater the need to teach about it, and understand its meaning. UNESCO promotes globally education about the genocide, believing that it will help young people, whatever their origin and culture, become more aware of the mechanisms that can lead societies to descend into violence, and how to prevent it.

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WEDNESDAY, 21 JANUARY 2015 - Premiere Screening, Room I

7:30 pm

Annihilation, the Destruction of Europe's Jews, a documentary film series by William Karel and Blanche Finger

Produced by Pawel Rozenberg, Céline Nusse, coproduced by Zadig Productions and Looks Film

Texts read by Yvan Attal, Lambert Wilson and Rut El Yuvi.

(In partnership with France 2)

The film “Annihilation, the Destruction of Europe's Jews” examines the historical events building up to the Holocaust from 1933 to 1945, the year when the notorious Auschwitz-Birkenau camp was finally freed. Producers William Karel and Blanche Finger explore how the Holocaust was methodically conceived, developed and executed to obliterate Jewish identity – communities, cadavers, language, heritage - not only in Germany, but also in all countries occupied by the Reich. Expert analyses, provided by eminent historians, shed light on the workings of this genocidal project, which mobilized the entire state apparatus from beginning to end: progressive segregation, territorial exclusion, mass murder by shooting on the eastern front, and death camps. With testimonies by writers like Aaron Appelfeld and Daniel Mendelsohn, the film enriches our understanding of Holocaust remembrance, such as survivor witness accounts and the challenges of presenting an integral view of Holocaust in museum practice.

Screening of two episodes, 2 x 52’, French version.

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MONDAY, 26 JANUARY 2015 - Concert of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra , Room I

7 pm - Concert of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra - Conducted by Frédéric Chaslin

  • Ode to Peace, by Frédéric Chaslin
  • Symphony No 13 in B flat minor  (op. 113, « Babi Yar »), by Dmitri Chostakovitch. Based on poems by Yevgeny Yevtushenko
  • Suite yiddish by Norbert Glanzberg
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TUESDAY, 27 JANUARY 2015 - Commemoration Day : « Life, Liberty and Legacy of Holocaust Survivors » ( Room II)

« Culture, Remembrance and Transmission »

In partnership with The Shoah Memorial and France Culture With the support of the Government of Canada and SNCF

2:45pm -  Welcome speech by Ms Soo Hyang-Choi, Director, Division of Teaching, Learning and Content, Education Sector, UNESCO

3 :00pm  -  Speech by Raphaël Esrail, President of the Union of Auschwitz             Deportees (France)

3:15pm  -  Speech by Michael Newman, Director of the Association of Jewish         Refugees (United Kingdom)

3 :30pm  - Live broadcast of the official ceremony of the 70th anniversary of the   liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau will be broadcasted live from the                           Auschwitz-Birkenau 

4 :15pm  - Round Table « Culture, Remembrance and Transmission »                Moderated by Sandrine Treiner, Assistant Director of France CultureWith the participation of :

  • Jean-Claude Grumberg, writer
  • Daniel Mendelsohn, writer
  • Uri Orlev, writer
    (Interpretation provided in French and English)


Mistress of ceremony, Ariane Ascaride, actress, actress, director and screenwriter

Opening - Music by the soloists of the Maîtrise de Caen


  • Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
  • Mr Eric de Rothschild, President of the Shoah Memorial
  • H.E Mr Carmel Sharma Hacohen, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Israel to UNESCO
  • Ms Henryka Moscicka-Dendys, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland

Music -  Sergueï Markarov, pianist, UNESCO Artist for Peace

Screening  -  Éclats de mémoire by Alain Fleischer based on survivors’ testimonies collected by the Shoah Memorial 
2014 |22 minutes | original version in French

Reading  -  Excerpts from a manuscript by Zalmen Lewental, Sonderkommando in Auschwitz-Birkenau, by Ysé Tran, actress, based on a concept by Tania Mouraud, artist

Statement -  Solemn message presented by young ambassadors of Holocaust memorials in France

Testimony -  Uri Orlev, writor and survivor

Prayers -  El Malé Rachamim and Kaddish by Rabbi Olivier Kaufman

 (Interpretation provided in French and English)

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EXHIBITIONS, 27 January to 13 February, UNESCO, Paris (Open access)

10 a.m. to 5 p.m -  working days, upon presentation of a valid ID.

Shoah by Bullets:10 years of investigations, by Yahad - In Unum

Hall Ségur, 26 January – 10 February 2015

For 10 years, the French Yahad – In Unum Association has been investigating massacres of Jews perpetrated by Nazi units, especially the Einsatzgruppen, in Belarus, Lithuania, Russia, the Republic of Moldova, Poland and the Ukraine. Yahad collects testimonies of witnesses of these crimes who were then children and teenagers.  Most had never before spoken of these crimes. Each of these investigations is based on extensive research in the Soviet and German archives. Village after village, Yahad documents the crime and gathers evidence of the killings.

  • Guided tours of the exhibition will be provided by Yaha-In Unum members on Tuesday, January 27, Thrusday, January 29, Tuesday, February 3, Thrusday, February 5 and Tuesday February 10 in English, French, Russian, Ukrainian, German and Spanish  
  • Reservation: contact(at)yahadinunum.org

Auschwitz-Birkenau 1940-1945, Concentration Camp and Killing Centre, by the Shoah Memorial

Pas Perdus Hall, 26 January  – 6 February 2015

Since the end of the Second World War, Auschwitz became a world symbol of the crimes perpetrated by the Third Reich. More than a million people were murdered there, a vast majority of which were Jews deported from all European countries occupied by Germany. This exhibition of the Shoah Memorial, recounts in details the history of Auschwitz-Birkenau, site inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List.

1945 : The Liberation of the Camps, by the Shoah Memorial and UNESCO

UNESCO fences, 19 January – 6 February 2015

Through a series of exceptional photographs from the archives of the Jewish Contemporary Documentation Centre, this exhibition, prepared by the Shoah Memorial and UNESCO, presents the discovery of the horror of the concentration camps by the Allies. It also shows the system of destruction of European Jews developed by the Nazi regime as well as the fate of survivors in 1945.

Partners and supports

Concert | Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah, Fondation Patrick & Lina Drahi, Fondation Rothschild, Institut Alain de Rothschild, Alliance israélite universelle, Bank Hapoalim, i24 news, , Radio de la communauté juive

Round table, ceremony and exhibitions | Mémorial de la Shoah, France Culture, SNCF, Gouvernement du Canada, Yahad - In Unum 


70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz