On November 1, 2005, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution and called upon the world to mark January 27 every year as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On that day in 1945 as World War II was still going on the prisoners of the Auschwitz concentration camp were liberated. This was the largest Nazi death camp where about 1.5 million people including the elderly and children were murdered, of whom about 1 million were Jews.
Lithuanian is a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance which actively participates in international programs to combat anti-Semitism. In 1941 Nazi Germany occupied Lithuania and over a few months the majority of the Lithuanian Jewish community had been murdered. Some Lithuanian Jews were sent as labor to ghettos set up in the cities. The Panevėžys ghetto was liquidated on August 17, 1941. About 13,500 Jews were shot. Studies by the International Commission show 200,000 Jews were exterminated. There are more than 200 mass murder sites in Lithuania, and about the same number of old Jewish cemeteries.
The date was marked on January 26 at the Sad Mother statue in Memory Square in the Jewish cemetery in Panevėžys. Participating were Panevėžys mayor Rytis Mykolas Račkauskas, Panevėžys city council member Alfonsas Petrauskas, teachers and students from the Margarita Rimkevičaitė Services and Business School and the J. Miltinis Gymnasium, members of the Panevėžys Jewish Community and city residents. Mayor Račkauskas spoke and laid a wreath, and city council member Petrauskas also spoke. Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman recalled the horrible facts of Jewish extermination, Lithuanian-Jewish cooperation and mutual aid, and thanked Lithuanians who rescued Jews. He laid a wreath before the memorial. Jewish calendars from the LJC and stars of David paid for by Panevėžys Jewish Community member Jurij Grafman were passed out to participants. Wreathes and flowers were also laid at the Ghetto Gates monument. A documentary film about the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp was screened at the Panevėžys Jewish Community, a conference was held and there was discussion on the facts in the cases of heroic rescuers of Jews.