UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Friday honored Holocaust survivors, victims and "the ordinary people who took extraordinary steps to defend human dignity."
"On this International Day, let us remember all the innocent people who lost their lives during the Holocaust," Ban said in a video message aired at a UN General Assembly ceremony to mark the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.
Those who risked their lives to save Jews and others from mass extermination in the Second World War are inspiration for the courage to fight for a better world, he said.
The annual International Day was designated by a General Assembly resolution to fall each year on Jan. 27, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.
"This year's observance is meant to give those unsung heroes the regard they deserve" and "celebrate those who had the courage to care" because "courage is a rare and precious commodity," he added.
This year's theme is Rescue during the Holocaust: The Courage to Care, which aims to give those unsung heroes the regard they deserve, Ban said.
"Throughout the Second World War, Jews, Roma and Sinti, Soviet prisoners of war and others who failed to conform to (Adolf) Hitler's perverted ideology of Aryan perfection were systematically murdered in death camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau" and these acts of genocide "illustrate the depths of evil to which individuals and whole societies can descend," he said.
"But the examples of the brave men and women we celebrate today also demonstrate the capacity of humankind for remarkable good, even during the darkest of days," noted the UN chief.
Following the airing of Ban's remarks, profiles of rescuers punctuated the proceedings, ranging from Irene Sendler, a Polish woman who smuggled children out of the Warsaw Ghetto, to the Veseli family, Albanian Muslims who hid a Jewish family on their farm, to an unknown platform guard who saved a Dutch Romani boy.