The Council of Europe commemorates the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps
Ceremonies in Poland
Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General, will participate, on 27 January 2005, in the International Forum ''Let My People Live'', a meeting organised, in Krakow, by The European Jewish Congress and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Poland. She will also take part in a number of other events commemorating the anniversary
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René van der Linden: ''We must not accept that the horrors caused by the Nazi regime and the memory of the Shoah are banalised, questioned, denied or even ridiculed'' (more...)

Terry Davis: ''Collective commitment was central to the Council of Europe's mission. While it was an individual responsibility to rail against injustice, it was more effective to speak together with a single voice''

Giovanni di Stasi: ''The duty
In the framework of the ceremonies commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, two exhibitions, sponsored by the representations of Russia and Israel, are taking place in the Palais de l'Europe, from 25-28 January. (more...)

At midday on 25 January 2005, a commemoration ceremony involving Mr Szewach Weiss, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council and former Speaker of the Knesset, and Mr Jean Samuel, an Auschwitz survivor, was held to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The President of the Parliamentary Assembly gave a speech on the subject in the Assembly chamber before observing a minute’s silence. On the forecourt, the Secretary General Terry Davis made a statement and then, Szewach Weiss and Jean Samuel unveiled a memorial stone. During the ceremony, the flags of the member States in front of Council of Europe headquarters were flown at half-mast.

The Council has also introduced a “Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and for the prevention of crimes against humanity”, a measure proposed by the Ministers of Education of the Council of Europe member States, meeting in Strasbourg on 18 October 2002.

On this occasion they expressed the wish that each country should be able to choose the day on which it would commemorate the Holocaust according to its own experience of history. Thus, while France and Germany have chosen the actual day on which Auschwitz was liberated, 27 January, to remember the Holocaust, Hungary commemorates the creation of the first Jewish ghetto, on 16 April, and Luxembourg remembers 10 October, the day on which its inhabitants refused to call themselves Germans.
On the morning of the 27th January 1945, the Soviet Army liberated some 7.000 prisoners still in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps. Just a few days before the arrival of the Soviet troops, about 60,000 people had been evacuated by the SS on the “Death March” to Germany. Of the 1.3 million people deported to the camp of Auschwitz, 1.1 million died. Of this number, 960.000 were Jewish, between 70.000-75.000 were Polish, 21.000 were Roma-Gypsies, 15.000 were Soviet prisoners of war… The number of Jews exterminated in the death camps is estimated at 6 million
The Council of Europe also assists teachers in preparing for remembrance days by providing them with teaching materials and documents and helping them to gather eye-witness reports.

The project is intended in particular to help school pupils to be aware of these events which darkened our history, to think about all the genocides and crimes against humanity which marked the 20th century, to educate them to prevent such events from recurring and to nurture understanding, tolerance and friendship between nations and racial and religious groups.

From 4 to 6 May 2005, a ministerial seminar will be held at the initiative of the Polish chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers. This, the second meeting of its kind forms part of the action taken to implement Recommendation (2001) 15 of the Committee of Ministers on history teaching in twenty-first century Europe and the Decision of the Ministers of Education on Holocaust remembrance day. One part of the seminar will take place at Jagellon University in Krakow, founded in 1364, and the other on the actual site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps.

Archive photo - Liberation of prisoners from Auschwitz in 1945
A memorial stone

[25.01.2005 - Palais de l'Europe, Strasbourg]
Unveilling of a memorial stone by Szewach Weiss, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council and former President of the Knesset, and Auschwitz survivor Jean Samuel, in the presence of the Secretary General
Video of the ceremony
Ceremony at the Hemicycle (verbatim report)

Photo gallery
of the comme-
Declaration by the European Ministers of Education (18 October 2002)
Dates of days of remembrance in Europe
Education material
The Council of Europe has the task of helping to prepare educational material for teachers in its member States (more...)
The Europe of cultural Co-operation
Theme File
''Teaching History''