The UN General Assembly on Friday held its annual International Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony in the presence of Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
Noah Klieger, a survivor of Auschwitz, was the main speaker at the ceremony and addressed the General Assembly.
Addressing the General Assembly, Klieger recalled three dreams that he had in Auschwitz: “To survive this hell on earth, to tell as many people as possible what the Nazis did to the Jews and to help to regain the land from which we were driven into exile. My dream came true and our historic Jewish homeland has been restored.”
He then went on to implore the world to continue to tell the story of the survivors and called on the UN to adopt a resolution encouraging member states to educate the next generations about the horrors of the Holocaust.
Klieger had met with a delegation of UN ambassadors at the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem last August when they visited as part of a delegation led Israel’s Ambassador Danny Danon. Following that meeting, Ambassador Danon suggested that Klieger be invited to speak at this year’s ceremony.
Klieger was accompanied to the podium in the General Assembly hall by Danon and his grandson, Yuval, an officer in the Israel Defense Forces, who was dressed in his uniform for the ceremony.
In his address to the General Assembly, Danon said, “We remember our history as painful as it may be, so that we learn from it and never let it repeat itself. And we remember the bravery of the survivors. Those brave souls who are slipping away from us as they implore the next generation to heed the lessons of this darkest of periods with two simple words: Never again.”
Danon then went on to explain the important lessons learned from Noah Klieger’s life story.
“Noah has made it his lifelong mission to use the beautiful power of the spoken and written word to educate and warn about the evil humanity can inflict upon the world. He is a hero in so many ways. Not only did he survive Auschwitz, but he then immigrated to Israel, enlisted in the IDF and fought bravely in our War of Independence,” said Danon.
“To this day Noah continues to fight. His willingness to speak the truth is an inspiration to all of us, and his presence reminds us that the Holocaust cannot be denied or forgotten,” the Ambassador continued.
The ceremony also included special addresses by Secretary-General Guterres, President of the UN General Assembly Peter Thomson and Deputy Permanent Representative of the United States to the UN Ambassador Michele Sison.
In addition to the main ceremony at its New York headquarters, the UN also held Holocaust memorials in more than forty seven countries around the world.
“It would be a dangerous error to think of the Holocaust as simply the result of the insanity of a group of criminal Nazis. On the contrary, the Holocaust was the culmination of millennia of hatred and discrimination targeting the Jews – what we now call antisemitism,” said Secretary General Guterres.
“History keeps moving forward, but antisemitism keeps coming back. There is also a new trend of Holocaust revisionism, with the rewriting of history and even the honoring of disgraced officials from those days,” the Secretary General continued.