1 February 2006

UNIS Vienna Marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day with Photo Exhibition "The Visible, yet Incomprehensible"

VIENNA, 1 February (UN Information Service) -- To mark the first United Nations International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, observed on 27 January, the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna today opened a photo exhibition titled "Das Sichtbare Unfassbare" ("The Visible, yet Incomprehensible"). The exhibition was inaugurated in the Rotunda of the Vienna International Centre (VIC) by Austrian Federal Minister for Internal Affairs, Liese Prokop.

In his video-message, played at the opening of the exhibition, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan emphasized that "the United Nations was founded as a reaction to the horrors of the Second World War.  Even so, the international community has too often failed to stand up to mass atrocities.  In recent years, we have taken important steps to improve on that record, such as establishing the International Criminal Court and agreeing on the collective responsibility to protect. On this International Day of Commemoration, the theme of our observance is "remembrance and beyond".  In that spirit, let us pledge ourselves to even greater efforts to prevent genocide and crimes against humanity".

"It is taken for granted by many Europeans nowadays that they live in a democracy," said Austrian Federal Minister for Internal Affairs, Liese Prokop. "As a result, it is sometimes suggested to let the past lie. Should one not forget the horrors of the past and concentrate on the present?  The answer is given to us by the survivors, warning us to be vigilant and take the lessons of the past seriously. It is our duty to spread the knowledge about the atrocities in the concentration camps and the horrors of the Nazi dictatorship, to consult the witnesses, and to support research, which has not yet answered all questions on the Nazi regime."

The exhibition presents more than 450 visual images of the Nazi death camp Mauthausen, Austria, and its satellite camps, in which approximately 200,000 persons from all over Europe were imprisoned, tortured and forced into heavy labour between 1938 and 1945. Almost half of them were killed. The black and white photographs document different aspects of the concentration camp system, the liberation and the time thereafter. Many of these visual testimonials are on display for the first time -- the reason being that after the end of the War, the photos were dispersed all over the world.

The United Nations General Assembly decided, in its resolution 60/7 in 2005, to designate 27 January as an annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. This is the date the Auschwitz camp was freed by allied forces in 1945.

The exhibition was compiled by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Internal Affairs and can be viewed as part of a guided tour of the VIC until 24 February.

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For information on guided tours contact:

UNIS Visitors Service
Telephone: +43-1-260 60 3328
E-mail: tours@unvienna.org