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World Marks Holocaust Remembrance Day


New York City students sing songs from the musical "Sosua: Dare to Dance Together," which is based on the true story of the emigration of Jewish refugees to the Dominican Republic.
A number of events are being held around the world to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the day when Soviet troops liberated the German Nazi-run Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland in 1945.

The theme of the remembrance day this year is “Children and the Holocaust.”

It is estimated that 1.5 million European Jewish children died in the Holocaust, alongside some 4.5 million Jewish men and women.

The UN General Assembly designated January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2005.

In its resolution, the General Assembly rejected any denial of the Holocaust as an historical event.

It also urged states to develop educational programs that will instruct future generations about the horrors of genocide, and called for actively preserving sites that were involved in the Holocaust.

On January 27, the world body held a solemn event in the General Assembly hall with the theme "Children and the Holocaust." Keynote remarks were made by Professor Robert Krell of Canada, who survived the Holocaust as a child and is now a psychiatrist.

Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor and Dominican Republic Ambassador Héctor Virgilio Alcántara -- the representative of one of the few countries that accepted Jewish refugees fleeing persecution -- also spoke, as did UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon via video link.

Turkey marked the day by airing a French documentary about the Holocaust -- the first broadcast of its kind by state-run media in any Muslim-majority country.

On January 26, state-run Turkish Radio and Television broadcast the first part of filmmaker Claude Lanzmann's "Shoah," a nine-hour documentary on the killing of European Jews in Nazi death camps during World War II.

Ceremonies In Germany, Poland

Consisting largely of Holocaust-survivor interviews, the documentary was aired as part of a campaign to promote understanding between Jews and Muslims and to fight Holocaust denial.

During a ceremony in Berlin, Bundestag President Norbert Lammert said Germans should make a stand against anti-Semitism and the threat posed by the country's far right.

His call came after the publication of a survey this week, which indicated 20 percent of Germans had anti-Semitic feelings.

Lammert said that this was "exactly 20 percent too much."

Meanwhile in Poland, the 67th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp was marked by a Mass for the victims at a church in Oswiecim (known in German as Auschwitz), the town where the camp was located.

Some 30 survivors took part in the Mass.

Pleas For Tolerance

The UN's high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, said in a statement marking the remembrance day that the Holocaust serves as a reminder for the world to learn from the past.

Pillay added that the remembrance day was held every year to ensure that "young people are aware of the important historical events, terrible as they may be, so that they can learn early on of the importance of their words and attitudes towards those who are different from them."

U.S. President Barack Obama issued a statement marking the event, in which he said the United States pledges "to stand strong against all those who would commit atrocities, against the resurgence of anti-Semitism, and against hatred in all its forms."

The chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Irish Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore, who is currently on a visit to the Middle East, reiterated the need to continue to fight hate and intolerance.

He said in a statement that "the unique horrors of the Holocaust can never be forgotten. We can only truly honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust by continuing to fight well as other forms of hate and intolerance present in our societies today."

compiled from agency reports