On the morning of 27 January 1945 the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps still held some 7,000 prisoners. Over a million people deported to Auschwitz perished there. It is estimated that six million Jews were exterminated in the death camps.

The Council of Europe was the moving spirit behind the introduction of a Day of Holocaust Remembrance and Prevention of Crimes against Humanity. Education ministers from member states took the decision in October 2002. While Germany and France have chosen 27 January, the day when Auschwitz was liberated, Holocaust Day varies in other countries according to the respective historical experience.

The Council of Europe also helps teachers with their Holocaust Remembrance Day preparations by making available teaching material for raising pupil awareness of those dark times and exploring the topics of genocide and crimes against humanity so as to promote prevention, understanding, tolerance, and friendship between nations, races and religions.

2015 Edition 2015 Edition

Monday 26 January 2015, 12 noon, Assembly Chamber: Commemoration ceremony of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau camp:

  • opening speech by PACE President Anne Brasseur
  • speech by Ida Grinspan, Holocaust survivor
  • speech by Samuel Pisar, Holocaust survivor and Unesco Special Envoy for Holocaust Education
  • speech by Jane Braden-Golay , President of the European Union of Jewish Students

Monday 26 January 2015, 12.45 pm, Forecourt of the Palais: wreath-laying and addresses by:

  • Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General
  • Didier Reynders, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Belgium, Chairman of the Committee of Ministers
  • Carmel Shama-Hacohen, Ambassador of Israel to the international institutions in France
  • Gheorghe Raducanu, President of the European Roma and Travellers Forum

Two exhibitions will also take place during the PACE session in the Lobby of the Assembly Chamber:

  • "A Path to Remembrance", paints and ceramics by Francine Mayran. Inauguration on Tuesday 27 January at 1 pm
  • "All victims of the unspeakable", paints and portraits.

On Tuesday 27 January, the Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland and the DG II Director General, Mrs Snežana Samardžić-Marković will participate in the official commemoration of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, together with the Polish President.