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UN rights chief says world 'haunted' by suffering endured by millions during Holocaust

26 January 2015 – Ahead of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, taking place tomorrow, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement to mark the "forever solemn day" when the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp was liberated.

Seventy years since the camp was liberated on 27 January 1945, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said he bowed "both personally and as a representative of the United Nations" to every woman, man and child who was forced to endure terrible suffering at the hands of the Nazis.

"We continue to be haunted by the fate of the millions of Jewish men, women and children, as well as Roma, Poles, Soviet prisoners of war and other prisoners and deportees from all over Europe, people with disabilities, homosexuals, and dissidents, who suffered and were killed by this ghastly extermination machine," Mr Zeid said. "The memory of well over a million Jewish children, and thousands of other children, who were put to death is particularly unbearable."

Underlining the fact that the UN Charter was shaped in response to the atrocities of the Holocaust and the Second World War, he said the document pursues a vision of "what the world should be", where people are able to exercise their human rights in freedom, dignity and equality, in full accordance with international human rights law.

Nonetheless, he noted also that the "toxic influences" of discrimination and racial and ethnic hatred have not disappeared, while atrocities continue.

"Discrimination and hatred kill and wound thousands of people," he said. "In memory of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust, and the pain that many others have since endured, I believe that it is urgent for us all to strengthen our moral courage. We must resist discrimination of every kind so that all may live in liberty, with respect, equality and justice."

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