Annan spoke with dismay of some 6 million Jews who died in the concentration camps and millions of others -- including homosexuals, Roma, and others -- who were killed, imprisoned, or used as slave labor during World War II.
"The tragedy of the Jewish people was unique. Two-thirds of all Europe's Jews, including 1.5 million children, were murdered," Annan said. "An entire civilization, which had contributed far beyond its numbers to the cultural and intellectual riches of Europe and the world, was uprooted, destroyed, and laid waste."
Annan and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, a death camp survivor, both questioned whether UN member states have the will to stop such an action from happening again.
In Strasbourg, France, today, the Council of Europe is scheduled to have a similar commemoration during a session of its Parliamentary Assembly.