The Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities (AIPG) observes January 27, 2022, as the 17th International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. Marking the 77th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945, the United Nations General Assembly established this annual International Day in November of 2005 through General Assembly Resolution 60/7.
The theme of the 2022 International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust is “Memory, Dignity and Justice,” placing a particular focus on the actions taken by Holocaust survivors in the immediate years following the ravages and brutality to reclaim their rights, history, heritage, and their dignity. This theme reflects the urgent need to maintain policies and practices that promote educational programs challenging hatred, strengthening solidarity, and preserving historical sites, documentation, and research — to protect the victims’ dignity and their ability to access effective legal processes in the pursuit of justice. Safeguarding the historical record and remembering victims is essential in combating antisemitism and other identity-based discrimination, as well as the acceleration of denial, distortion, and trivialization of past atrocities. Education is vital to ensuring that acts of genocide never again occur.
In his message in commemoration of this year’s International Day, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres delivered a call to action:
Today, we witness an alarming resurgence of xenophobia and hate. Antisemitism –the oldest and most persistent form of prejudice – is rising again. Attempts to downplay or downright deny the Holocaust are proliferating. No society is immune to irrationality or intolerance. We must never forget that the Holocaust could have been prevented. Remembering the past is crucial to safeguarding the future. Silence in the face of hatred is complicity.
Today let us commit to never be indifferent to the suffering of others, and never forget what happened or let it be forgotten by others. Let us pledge to always be vigilant and uphold human rights and dignity for all.
The theme of the 2022 observance is reflected throughout the work and programs of the Auschwitz Institute, which recognizes the importance of memory, dignity, and justice to essential “downstream” efforts to foster resiliency by dealing with the long-term consequences of mass atrocities. This theme is part of the Raphael Lemkin Seminar series curriculum, which represents the Auschwitz Institute’s longest-running program and one of the main pillars of AIPG’s work.
The Lemkin Seminar series welcomes government officials from around the world to join AIPG’s expert instructor team and other atrocity prevention experts on the grounds of the former concentration and extermination camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, an online version of the Lemkin Seminar — which includes a virtual tour of the grounds — was developed by AIPG in collaboration with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. The Lemkin Seminar aims to connect the powerful lessons of the Holocaust and other mass atrocities with the development and implementation of policies and practices that protect populations. Through the seminar, AIPG continues to create a community of policymakers educated in the latest genocide prevention policy strategies, supporting each other in identifying best practices for dealing with atrocity crimes, especially in places of high risk.