Meetings & Events

Dennis Francis (General Assembly President) at…

Dennis Francis (General Assembly President) at the Holocaust Memorial Ceremony 2024

Categories
Production Date
Video Length
00:05:48
Speaker Name
Speaker Affiliation
Summary
Remarks by Dennis Francis, President of the UN General Assembly, at the United Nations Memorial Ceremony marking the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
View moreView less
Description

Your Excellency, Gilad Erdan, Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN,

Mr. Secretary-General,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, let me acknowledge, in particular, the Holocaust survivors who are joining us for this solemn Remembrance event today.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Day – 27 January – marks 79 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the Nazi concentration and death camps.

Today, we honour the lives of the 6 million Jewish people, Roma, Sinti, and countless others who suffered and perished during the horrors of the Shoah.

It is with profound humility that we mark this occasion in the presence and grace of those who survived this unparalleled depravity.

The poignant accounts and extraordinary courage of survivors shocked the world – and summoned humanity to action, nearly eight decades ago.

Today, those who tragically perished, and the survivors are the powerful, animating force behind all we do at the United Nations – to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to promote and defend human rights and to work relentlessly for a more just and peaceful world.

It is true – as Elie Wiesel observed – that "for the dead and the living, we must bear witness."

Promoting the memory and education about the Holocaust is, therefore, essential to ensuring that the crime of genocide is never seen as either normal or justifiable, in any circumstance, and therefore to work towards ensuring that it is never repeated. 

The harrowing stories of the survivors – and those who risked their lives to save them – play a central role in our collective remembrance of this dastardly episode in human history. 

They are stories of ordinary people who took extraordinary actions to resist unspeakable brutality.

People like Johanna Eck – who sheltered Jews in her small apartment.

Like Irena Sendler – who smuggled children safely out of the Warsaw Ghetto.

And like Jeanne Daman – a teacher who joined a rescue network to save Jewish children.

There are countless more – heroes and heroines – who rose to the occasion in the face of enormous personal danger, to save innocent souls from an unthinkable tragedy.

They are reminders of our duty to deter, repudiate and counter hatred and intolerance – without any reserve, wherever such heinous crimes against humanity occur. 

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We cannot be complacent.

We see an alarming surge in hate speech across the world, while rising antisemitism and xenophobia have stoked fears that "Auschwitz is only sleeping" – as Ceija Stojka, a survivor of Roma descent, once described it. 

Today and every day we must recommit and do more than just say "never again". We must live our lives daily by this mantra.

The Holocaust must forever be a warning to all of us to stay vigilant against widespread hatred, racism, prejudice, and intolerance; divisive and destructive views and forces that seek deliberately to dehumanize and often to demonize human beings on the most spurious of grounds.

In the memory of those who were lost, and in honour of those who survived, we must strive towards a common future that is safer, free from fear, and characterized by mutual respect, tolerance, and harmony.

It is high time we learn to live together, as equals, in dignity and respect for all by all.

I thank you.

View moreView less