This Wednesday is International Holocaust Memorial Day. Every year on Jan. 27 people all around the world hold events to honor the 11 million people killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

The date — chosen by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005 — marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1945. The U.N. created the day of remembrance after a special session in January 2005 commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust.

When the day was created, the U.N. encouraged member nations to develop educational programming about the Holocaust to “instill the memory of the tragedy in future generations to prevent genocide from occurring again.” The resolution also rejected any denial of the Holocaust, commended nations that had actively worked to preserve sites that served as Nazi concentration camps and condemned all kinds of religious intolerance and harassment based on ethnic origin or religious belief.

Before the 2005 resolution, several countries including Israel, Germany and the United Kingdom had developed their own Holocaust remembrance days. Now, many countries hold events on both the international day and their own traditional observance.



Many communities honor the victims of the Nazi era by listening to Holocaust survivors tell their stories, reciting the names of those killed by the Nazis, holding educational programs about the genocide and discussing ways the memory of the Holocaust can help combat hate and extremism in the modern world.

For example, this Wednesday, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. has several events planned. One is a ceremony of remembrance that will include a reading of victims’ names and another is a program titled “Combating Hate in Europe” that will focus on educating young people about violence against religious minorities today.

In the United Kingdom, there is a website dedicated specifically to Holocaust Memorial Day, which includes information about local events, social media pushes and guides for those who wish to get involved or learn more.

The United Nations has a slate of events lined up this week to commemorate the day, and the UNESCO headquarters in Paris will also feature several events with the theme of examining Nazi propaganda. You’ll be able to live stream the opening remarks and memorial prayers for that program Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. EST. If you're looking for local events in your community, check with Jewish organizations or civil rights advocacy groups that often take party in honoring the day.