UNESCO marked Holocaust Remembrance Day at its Paris headqarters for the first time.
The United Nations inaugurated the commemoration in 2005.
Against a backdrop of 180 yahrzeit candles. the program included speeches by UNESCO, French and philanthropic leaders. They included UNESCO’s director, Gen. Koichiro Matsuura, and Simone Veil, a former French minister and Auschwitz survivor who is the honorary president of the Rothchild Foundation.
Survivors and members of the Sons and Daughters of Survivors Association headed by Serge Klarsfeld were among those who attended the ceremony, which featured the French army choir singing Jewish religious hymns. An exhibit assembled by the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem was inaugurated at the UNESCO complex.
David Kornbluth, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations education and culture organization, said he is working with UNESCO officials to develop a Holocaust curriculum that could be disseminated in many countries where the extermination of European Jews is not taught.
“If countries can be handed a ready-to-teach curriculum, not just in the Arab world and Africa but also in Europe, people there will understand more about the Jewish people and about Israel,” said Kornbluth, who conceived the idea of the UNESCO commemoration. “And perhaps lives could be saved today. With more Holocaust education, perhaps the massacres in Rwanda and now in Darfur could have been avoided.”
“It is my job to see to see that the Holocaust is taught in schools throughout France,” said the French education minister, Xavier Darcos.