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UN Holds Holocaust Memorial Service

The United Nations has held observances to mark the International Day of Commemoration of Victims of the Holocaust. VOA's correspondent at the U.N. Peter Heinlein reports.

The U.N. General Assembly Hall was filled Monday with Holocaust survivors, along with relatives and friends of victims. They were there to observe the second annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, dedicated to teaching young people about the dangers of hatred, bigotry and racism.

Israel's U.N. ambassador, Dan Gillerman, reminded the visitors that they were sitting in the same seats where, in 1975, General Assembly delegates adopted a resolution equating Zionism and racism.

He said, "Your presence here today, filling this very hall, where only 30 years ago, Zionism was equated with racism, is the ultimate answer to all the evil rhetoric, and the ultimate victory of good over evil."

The Zionism-equals-racism resolution was eventually revoked in 1991 by an overwhelming majority of the Assembly.

The current Assembly President, Sheikha Haya Rashed al-Khalifa, called the Holocaust a "unique evil," with consequences that reverberate in the present.

Sheikha Haya, a Bahraini national reminded the gathering of the need to remain vigilant against the forces of hatred engaged in genocide and other horrific crimes around the world.

"It is a tragedy that the international community has not been able to stop new horrors in the years since the Holocaust," said Haya. "This makes it all the more important that we remember the lessons of the past so that we do not make the same mistakes in the future."

Monday's observance opened a week of Holocaust remembrance activities at U.N.

The General Assembly adopted a resolution last Friday condemning attempts to deny the Holocaust. The measure was approved without a vote, although one country, Iran, spoke out against it.

Holocaust Memorial Day is timed to coincide with the date in January 1945 when Soviet troops liberated the infamous Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.