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Observing the International Holocaust Remembrance Day

George Santayana wrote the oft repeated, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," (Life of Reason, Vol. 1, 1905 retrieved January 23, 2010 from http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/George Santayana/).

Recognizing the need to "prevent future genocides" due to a group's race, ethnicity, cultural identity, political practice or religious beliefs like World War II's Holocaust, the United Nations passed in 2005, UN resolution A/RES/60/7. Following the passage of A/RES/60/7, the United Nations declared January 27 as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day to commemorate the release of World War II Nazi war prisoners, mostly Jews, from the Auschwitz death camp on that date in 1945 by Soviet troops.

Using education as the vehicle, A/RES/60/7 has a three-fold purpose:

  • For future generations to remember the Holocaust genocide victims of World War II;
  • To condemn future genocides for any reasons, and;
  • To develop the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme to provide educational resources for genocide awareness and prevention, (Background. The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, retrieved January 23, 2010 from http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance/bg.shtml).

Holocaust lesson plans and resource materials for students, ages thirteen and up, are posted on the Educational Materials web page. Materials are available upon request focusing on Holocaust genocide victims' mountains of shoes and what they represent called, Footprints for Hope, that include posters, a DVD, and a discussion booklet in multiple languages, The Briefing Notes web page features other online resources that may be good for student research projects, library discussions, classroom or after-school program use from prior years that include podcasts, panel discussion dialogs, lesson plans, pictures and other support materials. The Additional Resources web page has an extended link list to lesson plans, websites, university programs, and Holocaust museums located around the world.

The Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation hosts the Holocaust Remembrance Project - an annual writing contest for high school students to research and to write about the Holocaust. This year, the winning top ten students will be flown to Los Angeles to visit a nationally recognized Holocaust museum and will be awarded up to $5,000. Teachers can also participate and attend a Holocaust symposium. Anyone can access free Holocaust education materials on their website.

The theme for this year's observance is "The Legacy of Survival." As time passes and survivors age, it is critical that their lessons in survival must be passed on to others to keep these lessons from being forgotten by future generations. In Atlanta, the William Bremen Jewish Heritage & Holocaust Museum hosts Bearing Witness: Holocaust Survivors Speakers Series, the first Sunday of every month. Museum guests get to listen to Holocaust victims recount their survival experiences followed by a tour of the museum's main exhibit gallery.

* For more information about the William Bremen Jewish Heritage & Holocaust Museum and the Bearing Witness Speakers Series, go to their website at www.thebreman.org, or call Dr. Liliane Kshensky Baxter at 404-870-1872 or email her at lbaxter@thebreman.org. To locate books written by Holocaust survivors now living in Atlanta, go to http://thebreman.org/shopsite_sc/page9.html. Holocaust Remembrance Project rules and writing prompts are available at http://holocaust.hklaw.com/2010/index.asp.

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