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The International School for Holocaust Studies

International Youth Congress

About the Program

International Youth Congress

On January 27, 2008, Yad Vashem initiated the International Youth Congress as part of its activities to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day. One hundred and twelve youth leaders from sixty-two countries had an opportunity to meet at Yad Vashem, exchange ideas and voice their opinion on the subject of shaping Holocaust remembrance and its significance for the future. Christians, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists, speakers of some 30 different languages, discussed the shaping of Holocaust remembrance and its importance to coming generations. 

Countries as varied as Senegal, Morocco, Australia, Thailand, Nepal, China, The Gambia, Canada, Russia, Poland, France, Great Britain, Guatemala, Turkey, Israel and the United States were represented. The Congress, under the patronage of UNESCO, was devoted to the study of the Holocaust and discussions of its universal significance. 

On the first day of the conference, participants toured the Holocaust History Museum and the Valley of the Communities and participated in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance. The opening session of the Congress was attended by Israeli Minister of Education Professor Yuli Tamir, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev, and Director of The International School for Holocaust Studies Dorit Novak, with greetings from Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO. Reflecting upon the universal lessons that emerge from the Holocaust, Professor Tamir said “we are remembering for the sake of the future, because we believe that the future is determined by the way we understand the past”.

The second day of the conference continued at Yad Vashem with a tour of the Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations. Participants attended lectures and discussions, including a lecture titled “Ambassadors: The Power of Youth Around the World” by Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni. H.E. Mr. Henri Etoundi Essomba, Ambassador of Cameroon in Israel and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, addressed the delegates as well. The second day of the conference concluded with meetings between the delegates and Holocaust survivors.

On Tuesday, the final day of the conference, participants toured other sites on the campus, including the Museum of Holocaust Art, Synagogue, and Learning Center. They met with President of the State of Israel Shimon Peres and Holocaust survivor and Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv Rabbi Israel Meir Lau. At the concluding session of the Congress, the participants presented an international youth declaration formulated during the conference to Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev and Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Joseph (Tommy) Lapid.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

On November 1, 2005, more than sixty years after World War II, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 60/7, establishing the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. This International Holocaust Remembrance Day is annually observed on January 27, marking the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 27, 1945.

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