Annual Commemoration of the International Day in memory of the Victims of the Holocaust at the Ministry of Costa Rica

Annual Commemoration of the International Day in memory of the Victims of the Holocaust at the Ministry of Costa Rica

January 24, 2014

Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

San Jose, Costa Rica


His excellency the Vice-President of the Republic of Costa Rica, Alfio Piva Mesen; minister of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, Enrique Castillo; Holocaust survivor, Salomón Fachler, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations Systems, Yoriko Yasukawa; diplomatic corps accredited in Costa Rica, members of the Jewish community. 

On November 1, 2005, the United Nations General Assembly approved January 27 as the International Day of Remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust. The United Nations chose that date because it was January 27, 1945 when the Soviet army cornered the German military forces and released the prisoners who were held in subhuman conditions in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Today and always we will remember the victims of the Nazi genocide, because we are aware that one day alone is not enough to remind the survivors of the different genocides. It is necessary to promote, establish and carry out activities in different political, social, cultural, academic and governmental scenarios so that, in compliance with the United Nations Organization’s exhortations, we reflect day by day on the causes of injury, persecutions, and the lessons of this international crime. 

For many years the idea that the Holocaust was a crime against the Jewish people has been thought and spread. The Holocaust, in fact, was a crime against the human family.

This atrocious fact left universal lessons that we must teach in schools and universities as an effective tool to prevent and avoid future commission of genocidal acts of this nature, which overflow evil, hatred, and intolerance that can be expressed by the human being against their peers. 

Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, political dissidents, physically and mentally disabled, were considered “not pure” by the Nazi regime, and as such, enemies of the purity of blood.

What moved Hitler was ethnic hatred against the Jewish people; this hatred was transformed into a racist ideology based on the idea of a presumed hierarchy of the “Aryan race” in front of others, considered inferior of parasitic, whose eliminations were necessary; and this justified extermination, an extremist ideology that the Nazis implanted from the schools.

The Holocaust was a stain of indignity and disgrace in the life of the human family; because those who perpetrated the acts were not the only responsible of the death of millions of people, but also those who by keeping silent and denying refuge to the victims, became accomplices of this cruelty.  

Today, the words of the Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion, in 1961 when he expressed: “We want the public to know that not only Nazi Germany was responsible for the destruction of six million European Jews. We want all nations to know that they should be ashamed.” 

In the Resolutions 60/7 of November 1, 2015, the Organization of the United Nations “Urges Member States to develop educational programmes that will inculcate future generations with the lessons of the Holocaust in order to help to prevent future acts of genocide.” And in the Resolution 61/255 in January 26, 2007 “rejects efforts to deny the Holocaust which, by ignoring the historical fact of those terrible events, increase the risk they will be repeated.”

In compliance with these UN Resolutions, the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace aims to promote the teaching of the “The Holocaust: Paradigm of Genocide” in schools and universities, taking the history of the Holocaust as a necessary reference to prevent another genocide in humanity, to reflect on the importance of an education based on ethical and constitutional values and principles, which allows the student to take actions in defense of Human Rights against manifestations of violence, injustice, or intolerance that threaten their environment as well as other cultures, peoples, or nations. 

With this purpose, the Embassy carries our forums in different universities in Latin America with the subject “Educating to Remember - The Holocaust: Paradigm of Genocide.”

The Embassy also promotes the expedition of a law to include “The Holocaust: Paradigm of Genocide” as the subject of study in the educational system of the different Latin American countries. 

The Global Embassy of Activist for Peace also promotes the project “Traces to Remember” designed with the objective to keep the Holocaust survivors testimony alive and to make known the universal lessons left by this dark stage that divided the history of humanity in a before and after. 

As part of this initiative, a plaque like today’s and for a month will be exhibited in this enclosure of the Ministry, with the palm prints of a Holocaust survivor and of their descendants.

In a similar way spaces of study are formed and of reflection through the educational forums in universities, institutes, professional colleges and schools. 

The Holocaust is an act of the past that has living teaching for present and future generations; acts that, even though they happened in another continent, will allows students to learn about the consequences of intolerance, hatred, discrimination, prejudices, stereotypes, disrespect for life and human dignity. It will help them to identify the warning signs of the appearance of extremist governments, groups or people that could trigger a new international crime, whether it be a genocide, a crime against humanity, a war crime or a crime of aggression. 

Genocide is not an accident of nature. It is a premeditated crime that can be foreseen and as such can be prevented. 

Just as the Italian thinker and master of Criminal Law, Francesco Carrara said: “He, who foresees, warns.”

In fact, nowadays the precursors to another genocide to occur are given; however, it is avoidable if we make the world population aware that we cannot be indifferent or passive in the present circumstances of intolerance and discrimination. And seeing the resurgence of extremist groups in Latin America and Europe, especially neo-Nazis, we realize that we are facing the warning signals that call us to action.

All the legislators, authorities, and educators of the world have the freedom, but also, the political responsibility and the ethical and moral commitment to promote and enact laws in defense of Human Rights that guarantee the right to life and outlaw all forms of discrimination. 

Costa Rica is an example to the world, of the prioritization of education over arms investment.

The teaching of the genesis, history, and repercussions of the Holocaust as Paradigm of Genocide, will rise awareness to new generations, the ravages of hatred, the intolerance and discrimination, will allow them to identify the warning signs to counteract them, and preventing the recurrence of another genocide. 

Ladies and gentlemen, it is better to educate to prevent, than judge to punish. 

Thank you very much.