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.

2018 Edition 2018 Edition
Secretary General Strasbourg 25 January 2018
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Ceremony to mark International Day of Holocaust Commemoration

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland and Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen led tributes to the memory of Holocaust victims, at a ceremony outside the main Council of Europe building in Strasbourg.

Other participants who made addresses and laid wreaths in front of the commemorative stone included :

  • Carmel Shama-Hacohen, Ambassador of Israel to the international institutions in France
  • Miranda Vuolasranta, President of the European Roma and Travellers Forum,
  • Denis Erhart, President of "Les Oublié(e)s" de la Mémoire Association Civile Homosexuelle du Devoir de Mémoire
  • Michele Nicoletti, President of the Parliamentary Assembly.

Commemoration ceremonies and Remembrance events to mark the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust  will also take place in several member states with the support of the Council of Europe field offices.

See also:
'Never again may the darkest pages of our common history be repeated'