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World 'must learn from Holocaust'
January 24, 2005

Six million Jews - and others - died at the hands of the Nazis

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has urged the world community to make sure evils such as those perpetrated in the Holocaust are never repeated.

Mr Annan was speaking to the UN General Assembly on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

"We rightly say, 'Never again'. But action is much harder," he told the special session - the first ever held.

Holocaust survivors were also due to address the foreign ministers and high-level diplomats in New York.

Mr Annan said the United Nations, which was founded shortly after the end of World War II, must do everything in its power to prevent the scale of the slaughter undertaken by Nazi Germany.

"Two-thirds of all Europe's Jews, including one and a half million children, were murdered. An entire civilisation, which had contributed far beyond its numbers to the cultural and intellectual riches of Europe and the world, was uprooted, destroyed, laid waste," Mr Annan said.

"Truly it has been said: 'all that is needed for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing'."

He also noted that Roma (Gypsies), Poles and other Slavs, Soviet prisoners of war, and mentally and physically disabled people "were likewise massacred in cold blood".

'Modern failures'

But Mr Annan admitted that taking action to prevent genocide was much more difficult than rhetoric.

"The world has, to its shame, failed more than once to prevent or halt genocide - for instance in Cambodia, in Rwanda, and in the former Yugoslavia," Mr Annan said.

He warned "terrible things" were happening now in Sudan's western region of Darfur, and action was needed.

On Tuesday, Mr Annan is due to receive the findings of an international panel investigating the atrocities in Darfur.

Once the Security Council has the report, it will have to decide how to act, Mr Annan said.

"It is a very solemn responsibility," he said.

The foreign ministers of Israel, Germany, France, Argentina, Armenia, Canada and Luxembourg, representing the European Union, are also scheduled to speak.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, himself a Holocaust survivor, is also expected to address the assembly.

Earlier on Monday, UN officials gathered in the Austrian capital, Vienna, began a week of events worldwide marking the anniversary.


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