UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday that the Nazis tried to steal millions of Jews of their names before killing them during World War II — but upon opening a UN facility with the names of 4.8 million Holocaust victims, he said they had failed and everyone who was massacred ” He will never be forgotten.”
On the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the UN Secretary-General said the exhibit is a call to action because one million victims remain unidentified.
It is also a call to the world to “stop the tide of human cruelty and fight anti-Semitism and all forms of racism wherever and whenever it appears,” Guterres said.
The large installation – “The Book of Names of Holocaust Victims” – was brought to the UN headquarters in New York by Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem.
Measuring 6.56 feet (2 m) high, 3.3 feet (1 m) wide, and 26.45 feet (8 m) long, the names of the 4.8 million victims identified to date by Yad Vashem are arranged alphabetically on the pages. There are blank pages at the end that symbolize the more than a million murdered Jews who are still unidentified.
Guterres noted that when the prisoners arrived at the Auschwitz concentration camp, “their names were erased and replaced with a number burned on the forearm.” He said they lost their lives after losing their names. But millions of their names have been collected, and their memory lives on.
Yad Vashem president Danny Dayan addresses two names in the book, his great uncles, saying that the Nazis and their collaborators, “driven by an obsessive hatred of Jews, and anything they consider Jewish,” sought to exterminate and obliterate every Jew everywhere. Names, identities and culture.
He said, “We cannot revive even one of the millions killed.” “But we can — and do — recover the names and stories of the victims.”
Yad Vashem is the biblical Hebrew term for “name and remembrance,” and Dayan said the center collects every iota of information about the lives and deaths of the victims.
“We’re doing this because the victims deserve nothing less,” he said.
But Yad Vashem also hopes that by recording and teaching their stories “we help prevent horror that may remotely resemble the Holocaust,” the Hebrew word for holocaust, he says.
“History never quite repeats itself, but extreme anti-Semitism and other forms of racial hatred, aggressive violence and corrupt dictatorships do,” Dayan said.
To prevent another Holocaust, Dayan said, it is essential that we remember its victims, “which is why the Book of Names is here at the United Nations today, and why it is so important.”
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, whose grandfather lost his wife and seven of his eight children in the Holocaust, said their names are written in the book and “thanks to Yad Vashem their memory will live on forever.”
He also warned of “evil forces” who distort and deny the Holocaust, saying that such lies spread at “terrible speeds” on the Internet.
Erdan said, “The United Nations, an institution that emerged from the ashes of the Holocaust, has a central and integrated responsibility to combat the phenomena of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.” “It is the responsibility of each one of us to call out this hate.”
“The exhibition stands in silence, but it speaks volumes,” Under-Secretary-General Melissa Fleming told the inaugural event.
“She stands at the entrance to the headquarters of the United Nations to remind us of our responsibility to confront anti-Semitism and every form of prejudice, violence and hate,” she said.