28 January 2013
"The Power of Civil Society during the Holocaust: The Bulgarian Story 1940-1944”
Opening remarks by Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva
“The Power of Civil Society during the Holocaust:
The Bulgarian Story 1940-1944”
Palais des Nations, Salle des pas perdus, A Building, 3rd Floor
Monday, 28 January 2013 at 6 p.m.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Palais des Nations for the opening of this exhibition organized to mark the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Permanent Missions of Bulgaria and Israel for making this event possible.
The Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of millions of the Jewish people, along with countless members of other minorities, will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice. This day of remembrance is so important because it is by remembering that we pay tribute to the victims. It is by remembering that we instill the lessons learned for future generations. For indeed, we have learned that it is not only our responsibility as a human family to ensure that it will never happen again, but also our responsibility as individuals.
This point is illustrated clearly by Bulgaria’s story - represented in the photographs, documents and text we see before us today. This exhibition recognizes the collective efforts of individuals who came together to fight against Anti-Semitism in all its forms, in order to protect fellow citizens and their human rights. We see the extraordinary actions of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, community leaders, and members of the Bulgarian Government itself to prevent or undermine the implementation of Nazi policies and the deportation of Bulgarian Jews. And we reflect on the capacity of each and every one of us to turn compassion for others into decisive and heroic action in their time of need.
I am pleased that we are able to showcase this exhibition and these important messages at the Palais des Nations. It is here that the international community meets to protect and promote the dignity and human rights of all members of the human family. It is through this work to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred, that the memory of the victims, as well as those who fought to save them, is honoured. Let us continue to be inspired by these individuals and their stories as we collectively work towards a better and more peaceful world.