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Auschwitz-Birkenau: UNESCO Commemorates 75th anniversary of Nazi camp’s liberation

Wednesday, 15 January 2020
access_time 3 min read
© P. Sawicki | P. Sawicki

UNESCO’s International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust will take place on 22 January and focus on the Nazi concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, whose liberation took place 75 years ago (27 January 1945). This year, the Organization will mark the anniversary at its Headquarters in Paris with a conference, a ceremony, and two exhibitions (which will remain on display until 30 January).

The conference, Auschwitz-Birkenau 75 years after (3.15pm to 5.20pm), will focus on three themes:

  • “Preserving heritage. Site management and collective memory” will explore challenges relating to the protection and conservation of the site, which was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979, along with its artefacts and archives, their management and use for research and education, as well as the place Auschwitz occupies in the collective memory. Presentations by Olivier Lalieu, Head of Remembrance Sites Management and External Projects at the Shoah Memorial (France) and Mechtild Rössler, Director of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre.
  • “Studying Auschwitz-Birkenau. Research perspectives and academic freedom (4pm to 4.30pm) will present recent findings and outline new avenues in studying the history of Auschwitz highlighting the importance of free academic research and debate. Presentations by Piotr Setkiewicz, Head of the Research Department, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum (Poland), and Patricia Heberer-Rice, Director of the Office of the Senior Historian, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  • “Reaching new generations. Dealing with the past and youth empowerment” (4.40pm to 5.10pm) will examine educational approaches to the history of Auschwitz, ways to sustain the interest of new generations and raise awareness of its relevance in addressing contemporary issues. Presentations by Andrzej Kacorzyk, Director of the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and Paul Salmons, Curator and Pedagogue, international travelling exhibition Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away.

The commemoration ceremony, from 6.30pm to 8pm will be opened by UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay with the participation of Eric de Rothschild, President of the Mémorial de la Shoah (France), and Claudia Roth, Vice-President of Germany’s Bundestag. It will include performances by the Moscow Male Jewish Capella choir, historic video footage, a survivor’s testimony by Marian Turski of the Jewish Historical Institute Association, Chairman of the Council for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, and the chant of funerary prayers by Chief Rabbi Olivier Kaufmann (France).

Exhibitions, 22 to 30 January:

  • “Crimes Uncovered: The First Generation of Holocaust Researchers” Conceived by the House of the Wannsee Conference Memorial and Educational Site (Berlin), the Touro-College (Berlin) and the Wiener Holocaust Library (London).
  • “Seeing Auschwitz”, Conceived by Musealia, with the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum (Poland).

On 27 January, official date of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, the Director-General of UNESCO will join more than 200 Auschwitz and Holocaust survivors along with dozens of Heads of State and Government at the Auschwitz Memorial to mark the 75th anniversary of the the Nazi concentration and extermination camp’s liberation.

UNESCO’s Holocaust commemoration is organized in partnership with the Mémorial de la Shoah, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, the United Nations and the Holocaust Outreach Programme of the United Nations Department of Global Communications, as well as the World Congress of Mountain Jews, with the support of the Permanent Delegations to UNESCO of Austria, France, Germany, Monaco and the Russian Federation as well as Austria’s Zukunftsfonds.

About International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Media accreditation:
Monia Adjiwanou,
UNESCO Press Service, 

Media contact:
Roni Amelan,
UNESCO Press Service, 

Wednesday, 15 January 2020
access_time 3 min read
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