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.

International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust

“Remembrance is a choice. The Shoah must remain etched on Europe’s collective conscience. Because it is by remembering the darkness that we continue to live in the light”, highlighted  Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić at the Council of Europe ceremony on Wednesday 24 January, marking the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.

Addresses were delivered by the Prime Minister of Liechtenstein, Daniel Risch, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly Theodoros Rousopoulos, the Ambassador of Israel to the international institutions in France, Haïm Assaraf, the Co-Chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Croatia, Sara Lustig, and the Chief Rabbi of France, Haïm Korsia.

The solemn ceremony was concluded by a laying of wreaths in front of the commemorative stone on the forecourt of the Palais de l’Europe and by a moment of silence. 

 Secretary General speech

 More information on Holocaust Remembrance



 Animated video of a poem written by a child victim of the Holocaust, courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic

Secretary General Strasbourg 24 January 2024
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