Educating for a Better Future : the Role of Historical Sites and Museums in Holocaust Education

Those who deny or relativize the crimes of the Holocaust seek to perpetuate the causes of genocide and to revive violence. Education remains the last bastion to protect us against this threat, and this is where UNESCO’s mission takes on its full significance.   Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General


Every year around 27 January, UNESCO pays tribute to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and reaffirms its commitment to counter antisemitism, racism and all other forms of intolerance that may lead to group targeted violence. 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 and was officially proclaimed International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust by the United Nations General Assembly. This year’s International Day is placed under the theme “Educating for a Better Future: The Role of Historical Sites and Museums in Holocaust Education”.

Beyond their initial function to bear witness to the crimes perpetrated, memorial sites play a fundamental role in educating about the genocide of the Jewish people and other crimes perpetrated by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. Memorial sites combine the functions of education, cultural and research centers as well as museums. They ensure capacity building for education stakeholders, produce education resources and, due in part to the particular learning experience they provide, are laboratories for innovative pedagogies. The International Day will highlight their indispensable role, and examine how memorials and museums tackle contemporary issues with young people, helping them to make sense of the past and be more active citizens in today’s societies.

Events at UNESCO HQ

Tuesday 24 January 2017


Premiere of the film The Maestro: In Search of the Last Music by Alexandre Valenti at 7:30 pm (upon invitation).
View the trailer.

Thursday 26 January 2017


Official opening of the exhibition Archeologia by the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum at 2:30 pm.

The Exhibition will be presented from 26 January to 10 February 2017 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm weekdays.


'The Role of Historical Sites and Museums in Holocaust Education' - 3 pm.

  • Mr Piotr Cywinski, Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
  • Mr Serge Klarsfeld, UNESCO Honorary Ambassador and Special Envoy for Education about the History of the Holocaust and for the Prevention of Genocide
  • Mr Jacques Fredj, Director of the Shoah Memorial (France)
  • Ms Dorit Novak, General Director of Yad Vashem (Israel)
  • Ms Agnès Sajaloli, Director, Memorial Camp Rivesaltes (France)


10th Ceremony in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust at 7 pm, in the presence of

  • Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
  • Mr Eric Rothschild, President of the Shoah Memorial
  • H. E. Mr Carmel Shama Hacohen, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Israel to UNESCO

Concert by

  • Ms Martha Argerich, pianist
  • Mr Ivry Gitlis, violinist and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador
  • Ms Anne Catherine Dutoit, narrator

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Mémorial de la Shoah

Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

With the support of

In coordination with


Interview with Alexandre Valenti and Francesco Lotoro