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UN to hold International Day of Commemoration for Holocaust victims

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Moses Kuwema 

The United Nations Department of Global Communications has organized the first virtual and joint Commemoration Program in observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, to be screened on Wednesday, January 27, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Comprising both a commemorative ceremony and a panel discussion considering the topic of Holocaust distortion and denial, the Program is guided by the theme for United Nations outreach on Holocaust education and remembrance in 2021 — “Facing the Aftermath:  Recovery and Reconstitution after the Holocaust”.

The Commemorative Program marks the first time the Organization has partnered with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in organizing the annual observance, together with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. 

CNN International has contributed two elements of the programme.

The theme guiding the Commemorative Program focuses on the measures taken in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust to begin the process of recovery and reconstitution of individuals, community and systems of justice.  Integral to the process of reconstitution was the accurate recording of the historical account of what happened before and during the Holocaust. 

Challenging the denial and distortion of the historical events was interwoven into the processes of recovery and reconstitution.  The theme covers how the responses to the period immediately after the Holocaust inform our responses today, in the attempt to prevent atrocity crimes and support the victims of human rights violations.

The first part of the Program is a commemorative ceremony. Speakers will include the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the President of the seventy‑fifth session of the General Assembly, the Director-General of UNESCO and the Missions of Israel and the United States to the United Nations.

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, will deliver the keynote address. Irene Butter will share her experiences of surviving the Holocaust in a conversation with CNN’s Chief International Correspondent, Clarissa Ward, and Ms. Butter’s granddaughter.  Cantor Julia Cadrain of Central Synagogue, New York, will recite the memorial prayers.

Musical performances will feature Deborah Nemtanu, leader of the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, and Sarah Nemtanu, leader of the Orchestre National de France, violinist and Professor at the Haute École de Musique de Lausanne Renaud Capuçon.

The second part of the Program is a panel discussion on Holocaust denial and distortion.  Moderated by CNN journalist Hala Gorani, it will feature the following speakers:  Hella Pick, CBE, journalist and Kindertransport refugee; Professor Deborah Lipstadt, historian; Philippe Sands, QC, lawyer and writer; and Robert Williams, Chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial.  

Also delivering statements will be Alice Wairimu Nderitu, United Nations Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide; Serge Klarsfeld, UNESCO Special Envoy for Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention; and Michaela Kuechler, current Chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

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