January 27th marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi German Concentration and Extermination Camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945.
Fifty years later, in November of 2005, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed this date International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, or simply International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The Holocaust was a defining moment in the history of humanity. During the Second World War, the Nazi regime and its collaborators murdered about six million Jewish men, women and children. It was a continent-wide programme intent on the total destruction of all Jewish communities.
Driven by a fundamentally racist ideology, Nazi Germany also persecuted and killed millions of other people. These included Slavs, Roma, Sinti, the elderly, the disabled. Some the Nazis considered as “racially inferior.” Others were targeted for political, ideological or behavioural reasons.
UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, believes that it is essential to learn about the history of the Holocaust. This knowledge will help us to better understand the causes of society’s descent into genocide. And it will also help to raise awareness of the need to nurture peace and human rights in order to prevent mass violence in today’s world.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is an opportunity to commemorate the victims in a global effort to alert young generations about the dangers of racist and fanatic ideologies.
Here in Ukraine, we have been taking full advantage of that opportunity.
On January 24 of this year, an art exhibit dedicated to the International Holocaust Remembrance Day opened at the Ukrainian Centre for Holocaust Studies in Kyiv.
This exhibit promotes the development of Ukrainian social ideas of tolerance, understanding and inter-ethnic harmony. It is is entitled “History and Lessons of the Holocaust — The Holocaust through the eyes of children in Ukraine.”
The exhibit is a collection of art works created by students from all over the country for an annual competition launched by the Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies in 2008. The students looked into histories of their hometowns, regions, fates of individual families, commemoration practices and other aspects surrounding the tragedy.
The main activities of the Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies are Holocaust research, and Holocaust education. The Centre consults Holocaust history teachers in secondary and post-secondary institutions, promotes the creation of curricula and manuals on the Holocaust, and organizes annual competitions of students’ research and art works such as those in this exhibit.
The Centre also participates in international projects in alliance with academic and educational institutions all over the world.
The Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies is located at 8 Kutuzova Street, in Kyiv, Ukraine.
-Narrated by Renata Hanynets, at the Faina Petryakova Scientific Center for Judaica & Jewish Art, Lviv