Secretary-General António Guterres tours the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum with Dr. David Silberklang
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28 August 2017
Today, 28 August 2017, the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres visited Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. The Secretary-General toured the Holocaust History Museum, participated in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance, visited the Children's Memorial and signed the Yad Vashem Guest Book.
Yad Vashem Senior Historian Dr. David Silberklang guided the Secretary-General through Yad Vashem's Holocaust History Museum, and gave special mention to Portuguese Diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes, who was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations, Israel's highest award given to non-Jews who saved Jews from persecution during the Holocaust. To date, Yad Vashem has recognized over 26,500 individuals as Righteous Among the Nations - a program started in the late 1950's.
After signing the Guest Book signing, the Secretary-General met Yad Vashem Director General Dorit Novak for a tour of an exhibition of posters from a Yad Vashem and United Nations joint initiative "Keeping the Memory Alive-Our Shared Responsibility". The program, first launched in 2011, is part of cooperative efforts between the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem and the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme and serves as both an educational and commemorative activity for students all over the world. The Secretary-General saw some of the winning posters which have been displayed around the world in various high-profile governmental, civic and educational settings, including parliaments and UN offices. The competition is now entering its third cycle. This is just one example of the cooperative programs Yad Vashem conducts with the United Nations and its agencies to further Holocaust commemoration and education worldwide.
During his visit to Yad Vashem, the United Nations Secretary-General delivered the following statement:
"This visit to Yad Vashem is a tribute to the Jewish people, victim of the most hideous crime against humanity in the history of mankind, and a tribute to the courage of the survivors whose testimony we all have the obligation to repeat, to make sure that the future generations will never forget the Holocaust."
"I must say that I was particularly impressed by the first room [in the Holocaust History Museum at Yad Vashem]. The first room gives clearly the idea that the Holocaust was not a crazy initiative of a group of paranoid Nazis but it was the culmination of millennia of persecution and the discrimination of the Jewish people of what we today call antisemitism. Antisemitism is also part of [the history] my own country and I will recall the most tragic moment of them all with the expulsion of the Jews in the beginning of the 16th century."
"I believe that the horror of the Holocaust should be such that antisemitism should now be dead forever, but unfortunately, we see it alive and well. I was shocked a few years ago to hear the chants of a group of Neo-Nazis in a developed country of the world chanting "Blood and Soul", a slogan of the Nazis [from the Holocaust]. This is a dramatic demonstration that it is our duty to do everything possible, and as Secretary General of the United Nations I fully assume that commitment to find antisemitism in all of its expressions. As I said, I am fully committed to fighting anti-Semitism and also to fight all forms of racism, xenophobia, antimuslim hatred and all other forms of bigotry that unfortunately that we were not yet able to make our world free of."