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.

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Secretary General Strasbourg 24 January 2017
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Commemoration events for victims of the Holocaust

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland today opened a series of ceremonies to mark the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.

In front of the commemorative stone on the forecourt of the Palais de l’Europe, addresses and wreath-laying were also made by Nicos Anastasiades, President of the Republic of Cyprus, Klaus Werner Iohannis, President of Romania; Carmel Shama-Hacohen, Ambassador of Israel to the international institutions in France, Miranda Vuolasranta, President of the European Roma and Travellers Forum and Denis Erhart, President of "Les Oublié(e)s" de la Mémoire Association Civile Homosexuelle du Devoir de Mémoire. Closing remarks were made by Pedro Agramunt, President of the Parliamentary Assembly.

Commemoration ceremonies and Remembrance events will also take place in several member states with the support of their Council of Europe field offices.

The exhibitions “Education and Remembrance - The Holocaust in Romania” and “There was a life” will be on display at the Ante-Room of the Committee of Ministers, and a training activity for school children will be held at the European Youth Centre in Strasbourg on 26 January.

See also:
Statement by the Chair of the Committee of Ministers, Ioannis Kasoulides, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cyprus