This year's observance will focus on the theme "Women and the Holocaust: Courage and Compassion", and will pay tribute to the bravery and ingenuity of the women who faced Nazi persecution with strength and dignity during the Second World War. "Jewish women performed truly heroic deeds - in the face of danger and atrocity - they bravely joined the resistance, smuggled food into the ghettos and made wrenching sacrifices to keep their children alive. Their courage and compassion continue to inspire us to this day," said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Hosted by Kiyo Akasaka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, the ceremony will open with a message from the Secretary-General. Statements will be made by Vice-President of the General Assembly; Francisco Carrión, Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations; Susan Rice, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations; and Meron Reuben, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations.
The keynote speech will be delivered by Lenore Weitzman, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at George Mason University, who has devoted her career to advocating for women's issues. She co-edited the book Women in the Holocaust (1999), and is now completing a book on the "Kashariyot" - the young women that served as secret underground "couriers" for the Jewish resistance movements in the ghettos.
Also featured in the memorial ceremony will be Nesse Godin, a Holocaust survivor, originally from Lithuania. As a child during the Holocaust, Mrs. Godin survived a ghetto, concentration camp, four labour camps and a death march. Mrs. Godin has dedicated her life to teaching and sharing memories of her horrific experience and serves as a volunteer at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Ádám Banda, a renowned concert violinist from Hungary, will perform, and Cantor Yaakov Lemmer, Chief Cantor of the Congregation Anshe Sholom, will recite the memorial prayers. Three young students from the United Nations International School, Tinglan Cao, Boteng Maluke, and Gabriela Ruiz Pez, will read excerpts from a diary and letters of women who perished in the Holocaust.
In the afternoon, there will be a panel discussion held by B'nai B'rith International, entitled "The Survivors, 1945-2011: Struggle and Perseverance" and a round table organized by the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation, entitled "A World Without Nazism - A Global Goal for Humanity Today and the Sixty-fifth Anniversary of the Nuremberg Trials". This event is co-sponsored by the United Nations Department of Public Information, the International Human Rights Movement "World without Nazism" and the American Forum of Russian Jewry.
The week-long events in New York will include the opening on 24 January of the exhibition "The Memories Live On", which features drawings of Auschwitz made by an unknown prisoner of the concentration camp. This exhibition is sponsored by the International Auschwitz Committee in Germany, the State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the International Youth Meeting Centre in Oswiecim, Poland, the German Resistance Memorial Centre in Berlin, Germany, the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations and the United States Permanent Mission to the United Nations. The exhibition "Hélène Berr, A Stolen Life", curated by Mémorial de la Shoah in Paris, France, will also be displayed in the United Nations Visitors' Lobby. This exhibition, based on the diary of a young Jewish girl, documents the persecution of Jews in Occupied France during the Second World War (see Note No. 6291).
Other events include a screening on 25 January of the documentary film Daring to Resist, produced and directed by Barbara Attie and Martha Goell Lubell and distributed by Women Make Films. The film recounts the stories of three young Jewish women who found unexpected ways to fight back against the Nazis. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Frank Blaichman, a former partisan, whose presence was made possible with the help of the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation, and Bonnie Gurewitsch, an archivist and curator at the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, New York City.
Around the world, United Nations Information Centres (UNICs) will also commemorate the Day with screenings of this film, memorial ceremonies and educational activities with local schools. The United Nations Holocaust Programme and the Mémorial de la Shoah produced a travelling exhibit in English, French, Russian and Spanish, which will be hosted by Information Centres in Bujumbura, Dakar, Manila, Mexico City, Moscow and the United Nations International Service in Vienna. For more information on the Mémorial, please visit www.memorialdelashoah.org.
In line with this year's theme, the United Nations Holocaust Programme also produced an educational study guide and companion DVD for high school students, entitled Women and the Holocaust: Courage and Compassion, to help youth better understand how the Holocaust affected women. The materials were developed in partnership with the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, and the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education. The study guide and DVD can be downloaded from the Holocaust programme's website and will be available in all United Nations official languages. For more information on these partners, please visit www.yadvashem.org and www.usc.edu/vhi.
All guests must pre-register to take part in the events at New York Headquarters. Photo identification will be required and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Please see the Programme's website www.un.org/holocaustremembrance for registration details and www.un.org/media/accreditation for media accreditation.
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