Category: Society / January 25, 2013 3:41 PM EST
The United Nations (U.N.) held its annual memorial service to honor the victims and survivors of the Holocaust on the annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday (January 25).
This year's theme was "rescue during the Holocaust and the courage to care," and guests were welcomed by a video message from U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon, who was traveling for business in Europe.
"On this international day let us remember all the innocent people who lost their lives during the Holocaust. And let us be inspired by those who had the courage to care - the ordinary people who took extraordinary steps to defend human dignity," Ban told the guests in the General Assembly Hall.
"Their example is as relevant today as ever. In a world where extremist acts of violence and hatred capture the headlines on an almost daily basis, we must remain ever vigilant. Let us all have the courage to care, so we can build a safer, better world for today," he said.
Speakers wanted to remind the crowd that anti-Semitism is still prevalent today.
"Every year from this very podium the Iranian president denies the Holocaust while threatening to carry out another one. Every day Hamas teaches anti-Semitism to the next generation of children in Gaza, telling them that the Holocaust is and I quote 'a lie made up by Zionists.' Similar messages echo across the Arab world," he told guests.
"The hands of time threaten to cloud the world's memory. It is our responsibility to rescue the history and the lessons of the Holocaust, just as the men and women that we honor today rescued its victims," Ron Prosor, Israeli ambassador to the United Nations added.
The two-hour long service included addresses honoring people who rescued Jews during the Holocaust as well as musical performances of pieces by Austrian-Jewish composer Viktor Ullmann who died in Auschwitz on October 18, 1944.