On January 27, we joined together with others around Aotearoa and the globe in acknowledgement of UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The date marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau by Soviet troops on 27 January 1945.
UNESCO established Holocaust Remembrance Day to pay tribute to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and to reaffirm its unwavering commitment to counter antisemitism, racism, and other forms of intolerance.
The day was commemorated by a number of ceremonies across Aotearoa New Zealand, organised by the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand.
NZ National Commission for UNESCO Commissioner Communications and Information, Vanisa Dhiru, spoke on behalf of the National Commission at the Remembrance Day event held at Parliament. She was joined at the Wellington event by UNESCO Aotearoa Youth Leader, Aimee Clark and our Secretary General, Zuleika Chang. The event included speakers and young people reflecting on the importance of Holocaust Remembrance Day and the four priorities of witness, remember, educate and act in relation to the events of the Holocaust.
“2023 marks the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and this was the central focus for the Remembrance Day this year. The day reminded me of the importance of never forgetting the acts of heroism and activism that changed the lives of many. We must know the stories of the Holocaust will continue to change the lives of our treasured rangatahi and tamariki, our future generations,” said Vanisa.
Our UNESCO Aotearoa Youth Leaders Sabrina Manū, Katja Neef and Kauri Tearaura attended events around the motu, each reading out the UN Secretary General’s Remembrance Day message which included the importance of this day and efforts to address racism, discrimination and prejudice particularly when social networks provide echo chambers for conspiracy theorists.
It was an honor and a privilege to attend the UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day hosted at the Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum,” said Katja.
“Before the event, I was able to go through the Holocaust memorial as part of the museum and read through the stories. A quote that read "They must not be killed again through forgetfulness" by Elie Wiesel stood out to me. This serves as a reminder that we must continue to actively work against hate and remember the past. What is so important to remember is that the Holocaust and the hatred that fuelled such an inhumane part of our history was an accumulation and build-up of hate and oppression rather than a short fragment of history.”
“The stories and letters read out from the Jewish youth, such as Mordechai Anielewicz, which demonstrated resistance and resilience inform and inspire us young people that we must also lead in fighting against racism, hate, and injustice in every space that we occupy. It was incredibly powerful hearing the stories of the Holocaust survivors. Robert Narev, a survivor read out a Yizkor, a Jewish memorial prayer. Their strength and bravery resonated across the room as they continue to use their voice and stories to give voice the those that were lost during the Holocaust," concluded Katya.