The International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust was observed by the United Nations Information Centre for India and Bhutan in association with our traditional partners the Alliance Française and the Embassy of Israel. Unusually, the commemoration was partnered by 18 other diplomatic missions and supported by a few others.
The support from so many partners means that the lessons of the holocaust are considered imperative in a widening circle of diplomatic partners; in fact the embassies of Canada, Switzerland and the European Union reached out to UNIC to ensure that they would be included I next year’s edition!
Our observance was supported by three exhibitions:
An art installation set up by UNIC showed the skeleton of a woman with a metal skirt on which visitors pinned uplifting messages and lessons learnt.
SPOTS OF LIGHT: To be a Woman in the Holocaust by the Israel
The Good Samaritans from Markowa by Poland.
As in previous years, our ceremony was conducted in two phases – the morning session was arranged with school students and the formal ceremony in the evening was for diplomatc partners and others.
The morning session saw attendance by more than 150 students from 10 schools from Delhi and its neighbouring areas. After screening of the video message of the Secretary-General, Rajiv Chandran, National Information Officer addressed he students about the Holocaust and spoke of what the UN was doing to prevent another similar tragedy.
The highlight of the morning ceremony was screening of the a Yad Vesham film Nyosha, about a little girl whose parents are killed and is left alone to fend for herself and her story of survival. The film, short but compelling, left the audience emotional and thoughtful. This led to a wide-ranging discussion and a Q&A session with representatives from seven diplomatic missions on the subject of holocaust and of its contemporary relevance. Avigail Spira, spokesperson from the Embassy of Israel, narrated her linkages and interaction with the Holocaust and the impact it has had on her. She also emphasized the importance of keeping the memory and lessons alive.
Pensive, the students then penned down their thoughts and reactions on to cards that were pinned to the UNIC art installation in the atrium.
Teachers accompanying the students told us how meaningful the event was and congratulated UNIC on highlighting contemporary issues of concern against the backdrop of history.
It was truly an educational experience for these young Indians to understand how normal people can turn beastly under propaganda and influence. The most compelling message that emerged was to stand up for people in need and not give in to any hate agenda.
The second phase of the ceremony in the evening saw 150 diplomats, media persons and civil society representatives participating in the event. The diplomats were taken through the three exhibitions and then the official ceremony was conducted. Ms. Maya Kadosh, deputy chief of mission of the Embassy of Israel stated how the holocaust is not just a Jewish issue but a human tragedy. The remembrance ceremony ended with the all guests lighting candles in memory of the victims of the holocaust.
Indian national television covered the evening observance and broadcast it as part of its national news channel, bringing the holocaust to over 400 million viewers.