President of the German Constitutional Court Andreas Vosskuhle (L-R) president of the upper house of parliament Bundesrat Hannelore Kraft, representative of German head of the central council of the Sinti and Roma, Zoni Weisz, German chancellor Angela Merkel and president of the Bundesstag Norbert Lammert arrive for a commemoration service for the victims of national socialism on International Holocaust Memorial Day at the Reichstag building, seat of the German lower house of parliament Bundestag, in Berlin, January 27 2011.
Ambassador Ertan Tezgor gives an address during a commemoration on International Holocaust Remembrance Day at Neve Shalom synagogue in in Istanbul, January 27 2011.
Holocaust survivors lay candles at the Victims Monument at the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz Birkenau during ceremonies marking the 66th anniversary of the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust, in Auschwitz Birkenau, January 27 2011
Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych has said that commemorations to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day should stir everyone to guard against anti-Semitism and racism.
Yanukovych said that in autumn 2011 Ukraine will mark the 70th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacres whereby attacks between September 29 and September 30, 1941 resulted in the deaths of 33 771 Jews.
Ukrainian prime minister Mykola Azarov described the tragedy of Babi Yar as "a symbol of Nazi crimes against humanity".
Yad Vashem, Jerusalem's Holocaust museum, has recorded the names of about 3000 Jews killed at Babi Yar, as well as those of about 7000 Jews from Kyiv killed during the Holocaust.
Meanwhile, conditions faced by Roma in present-day Europe were highlighted by Dutch-born Roma Zoni Weisz, the sole survivor of a family killed in 1944, during an address to the German parliament. Weisz told German MPs that Roma in Western Europe again faced discrimination and were living "in inhumane conditions in ghettos".
Addressing the German parliament, the Bundestag, Weisz singled out France and Italy as countries where Roma faced new "discrimination and exclusion".
"We are Europeans, let me remind you, and must have the same rights as any other resident, with the same opportunities available to every European," he said.
UK foreign secretary William Hague, quoted on the website of the UK embassy in Sofia, said he was determined to preserve the memory of the Holocaust.
"Today we remember the millions of people who were murdered or whose lives were changed beyond recognition during the Holocaust as well as those in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia and Rwanda. In remembering we must also learn the lessons of these events. As I saw during my visit to Yad Vashem in Israel last November...it is vital to educate future generations of the evils of that period in history and of the consequences of allowing intolerance and hatred to flourish.
"The government will encourage a wider public understanding of the history of 1933-1945 and the lessons to be drawn. We will continue to challenge racism and antisemitism and promote the human rights of all people across the world. I call upon other states to do the same"
A report by the UN News Service said that the United Nations honoured the memory of the estimated six million Jews and countless others who perished in the Nazi death camps of World War 2, with ceremonies around the world and pledges to wipe genocide off the face of the Earth.
The UN General Assembly in 2005 designated January 27, the date of the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest and most notorious of all of the camps, as the International Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, and this year's theme pays special tribute to the suffering of women.
"Mothers and daughters, grandmothers, sisters and aunts, they saw their lives irrevocably changed, their families separated and their traditions shattered," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.
"Yet, despite appalling acts of discrimination, deprivation and cruelty, they consistently found ways to fight back against their persecutors.
"They joined the resistance, rescued those in peril, smuggled food into ghettos and made wrenching sacrifices to keep their children alive. Their courage continues to inspire. On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, let us honour these women and their legacy.
"Let us pledge to create a world where such atrocities can never be repeated. We are all aware that such a future has yet to arrive," Ban said.
Paying homage to the millions of Jews and thousands of other victims, including Roma, Slavs, disabled people, homosexuals, Jehovah's witnesses, communists and other political dissidents "whose lives were brutally cut short by the ideology of hatred of the Nazis and their allies," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that the Holocaust should serve as a reminder of the dangers of marginalisation of particular groups and the need for urgent action at the first signs that a climate conducive to genocide is emerging.
"It should remind us that hateful words have the ability to translate into hateful actions. The threat of genocide still remains," Pillay said.
"While we can never compensate for the Holocaust, or do justice to its millions of victims and their descendants, we can at least ensure that by remembering their suffering, and acting on what we have learned, we can mitigate the suffering of others today and in the future," she said, emphasising the importance of bringing perpetrators to justice.
UN Special Co-ordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry led a delegation of senior UN staff to Yad Vashem to commemorate the International Day.
As part of their visit, Serry and Deputy Special Co-ordinator Maxwell Gaylard laid a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance to remember the six million Jews, and others, killed by the Nazis.
Exhibitions on the Holocaust are being held at various UN offices, including New York, Vienna and Paris, with a travelling exhibition due to visit other centres, including in Africa, all emphasising the categorical imperative of never allowing such a catastrophe to be perpetrated again.
The educational-preventive significance of the Day is a major focus of the UN Outreach Programme set up by the General Assembly in 2005 with the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) this year producing a Study Guide – Women and the Holocaust: Courage and Compassion – to help high school students better understand the experiences of Jewish, Roma and Sinti women during the terror brought on them by the Nazis and their collaborators, the UN News Service said.
"Faced with discrimination, impossible living conditions, and the prospect of death at every turn, these women were determined to meet their families' needs and protect their children to the best of their ability," UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Kiyo Akasaka says in a foreword to the Guide.
"As their husbands, sons and fathers were arrested and deported, traditional gender roles changed, placing greater responsibilities upon women in the family and community in the ghettos, and often making the difference between life and death in the camps... Once homemakers and caregivers, women had to work outside the home and adapt to stay alive in the worst of circumstances, even when their children were killed before their eyes."
Reporting from the Serbian capital, news agency Tanjug said that labour and social policy minister Rasim Ljajić, representatives of the City of Belgrade and members of the diplomatic corps and the Association of Jewish Communities in Serbia laid wreaths at a monument to the victims of the Holocaust at the grounds of the former German Nazi concentration camp Staro Sajmište, which the occupying army set up in Belgrade.
Ljajić said that dreadful crimes took place during the occupation of Serbia in World War 2.
"Staro Sajmište is one of the largest execution sites in Serbia where 6320 Jews, mostly women and children, were killed from December 1941 to May 1942," Ljajić said.
He underlined that about 90 per cent of Jews who lived in Serbia before 1941 did not survive World War 2.
Turkey held its first state ceremony in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
The ceremony was held at the Neve Salom synagogue in Istanbul. Officials from Turkey's foreign ministry and members of the local Jewish community attended the ceremony, according to reports.
As it has done every year since the day was instituted, the Turkish government issued a statement to mark the day.
The January 27 statement said that Turkey would continue to remember the Holocaust and to draw lessons from it to combat racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism, according to the English-language Hurriyet Daily News, quoted by the Jewish Telegraph Agency.
Greek news agency ANA-MPA said that deputy foreign minister Dimitris Dollis called on people to fight for "open societies, for prosperous societies, for societies of freedom, equality, brotherhood and justice", while addressing an event on the occasion of the Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was organised at an Athens synagogue.
"Without feelings of revenge, we must not forget this hideous part of world history," he said, adding "we must all unite our voice against anti-Semitism."
Unesco director-general Irina Bokova, accompanied by senior officials, laid a wreath at the Shoah memorial in Paris, saying that in years to come, every Unesco director-general should visit the memorial every January 27, the Jerusalem Post reported.
"A native of Bulgaria, Bokova has often expressed pride at that country’s protection of its Jewish community from deportation," the Jerusalem Post said.