On April 20, 2009,  the day that Iranian President Ahmadinejad opened the U.N.’s “Durban II” World Racism Conference, in which he mocked the Holocaust and called for the elimination of Israel, UN Watch and Geneva Jewish communities co-organized a major Holocaust commemoration, in the adjacent public square, to mark Yom Hashoah. (For more on UN Watch’s counter-protest that week, click here.)
The 3,000 seats were filled to capacity, attended by international diplomats, Swiss dignitaries, and Jewish communities and church groups from Geneva and all across Europe.
Keynote speakers were Elie Wiesel, Bernard-Henri Levy, Professor Irwin Cotler, and Father Patrick Desbois.


In Memory of the Victims

  • Reading of names of those who perished in the Holocaust
  • Musical interlude “ Blessing Nigoun” performed by the musicians of l’Association des Amies de
    la Musique Juive –AMJ, directed by Michel Borzykowsky
  • Master of ceremony Mr. Elie Vanier
  • Words of Welcome from Mr. Joel Herzog, President of the Organization Committee of Yom Hashoah
    [French]     [English]
  • Message by the State Councillor Mr. Laurent Moutinot, Head of the Department of Institutions of
    the Republic and Canton of Geneva
    [TEXT-French]     [English]

Holocaust Commemoration – a Message for Humanity

  • “Nuit & Brouillard” by Jean Ferrat, performed by the Intercommunity choir directed by M. Pascal Salomon & Mme Sara Benamram
  • Address by Mr. Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Holocaust Survivor
    One of the most prominent contemporary writers devoting his work to the haunting memory of the Holocaust
    [TEXT-French]  [TEXT-English]   [VIDEO-Part I]     [VIDEO-Part II]
  • Reading of Psalm 91 – “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty…”
  • Lighting of the Memorial Flame by Survivors and Representatives of other Minorities who were victims of the Holocaust, by Righteous among Nations and the Jewish Heroes of the Resistance.
    Lighting of this flame symbolizes the memory of the Holocaust being transferred from one generation to the next.
  • Moment of Silence
  • Prayer for the Dead – “El Male Rahamim” (“Gods Merciful”) delivered by Cantor Rav Jacob Toledano, followed by the Kiddish recited by the present Rabbis
  • Musical Note
  • Address by Father Patrick Desbois, Vatican Advisor for Jewish Relations, Author of the book: Porteur de memoires – Shoah par balles
    In order to fulfill his duty to never forget the atrocities of the Holocaust, Father Desbois dedicates his work to the memory of the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were assassinated in Eastern Europe by mass shootings.
    [TEXT-French]     [TEXT-English]     [VIDEO]

Homage to Mr. Rene Cassin and Mr. Raphael Lemkin, respectively, the creators of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention against Genocide

  • Homage read by the Presidents of the Geneva Jewish Communities
    From the ashes of the Holocaust came into being the two founding texts that continue to frame the fight for the betterment of humanity
    Rene Cassin:         [TEXT-French]     [TEXT-English]
    Raphael Lemkin:   [TEXT-French]     [TEXT-English]
  • Address by Mr. Irwin Cotler, Member of Parliament, former Canadian Minister of Justice, Lawyer and Defender of Nelson Mandela and Andrei Sakharov
    His career as a political leader and lawyer was marked by his rigorous and uncompromising fight for human rights
    [TEXT-English]     [VIDEO-Part I]     [VIDEO-Part II]

Universal Message of the Holocaust

  • “Chants du Marais” Song of the Deported, Intercommunity Choir
  • Closing address delivered by Mr. Bernard-Henri Levy, Writer and Philosopher
    Mr. Levy’s career is characterized by his endless efforts to attract the world’s attention to the most serious violations of fundamental Human Rights in the four corners of the world.
    [TEXT-French]    [TEXT-English]     [VIDEO-Part I]     [VIDEO-Part II]
  • Musical Note
  • Candle lighting by the public
  • Signing in Yiddish “Zog nie Keynmol” (Never Say) Inter-Community Choir
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