Victims and survivors of the Nazi genocide were commemorated at special remembrance services across the United Kingdom, as part of the 68th annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The UK celebrates Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January every year, a tradition that started in 2001. The day marks the liberation of the largest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Baroness Jennifer Randerson, a Liberal Democrat and a junior member of the Wales Office, was at one such event at the City Hall in Cardiff and she stressed on the importance of Holocaust Memorial Day, particularly for future generations.

"Holocaust Memorial Day allows us to reflect upon the appalling consequences of persecution. It provides the opportunity to remember and pay tribute to those who have suffered and died as a result. It also reminds us of the courage shown by the survivors of genocide and the importance of learning lessons from these tragic events," she said.

The service in Cardiff was led by First Minister Carwyn Jones.

Meanwhile, commemoration candles were lit across London and the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. The theme of Holocaust Remembrance Day 2013 is "building bridges".

"Whole communities were completely destroyed during the Holocaust and subsequent genocides, which is why we are asking people to honour Holocaust Memorial Day 2013 by building bridges within their communities," Olivia Marks-Woldman, the chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust said in a BBC report.

Prime Minister David Cameron was also on hand, tweeting: "Memorial Day is a day to remember the innocent victims of the Holocaust, and re-commit to combat all forms of racism & prejudice."

Meanwhile, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has sparked controversy by praising Benito Mussolini, the Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party, at a ceremony in Milan to commemorate the Holocaust.

"Obviously the government of [Mussolini's] time, out of fear that German power might lead to complete victory, preferred to ally itself with Hitler's Germany rather than opposing it," Berlusconi said, "adding, "The racial laws were the worst fault of Mussolini as a leader, who in so many other ways did well."

Finally, Liberal Democrat MP David Ward has apologised for widely criticised comments comparing the treatment of the Palestinians by the Israelis to the treatment of Jews in the Holocaust. In a post on his blog, he wrote:

"My criticisms of actions since 1948 in the Palestinian territories in the name of the State of Israel remain as strong as ever. In my comments this week I was trying to make clear that everybody needs to learn the lessons of the Holocaust. I never for a moment intended to criticise or offend the Jewish people as a whole, either as a race or as a people of faith, and apologise sincerely for the unintended offence which my words caused. I recognise of course the deep sensitivities of these issues at all times, and particularly on occasions of commemoration such as this weekend. I will continue to make criticisms of actions in Palestine in the strongest possible terms for as long as Israel continues to oppress the Palestinian people."

Check out photographs of Holocaust Remembrance Day 2013

A Japanese visitor touches the death wall at the Auschwitz concentration camp January 27, 2013. A ceremony to mark the 68th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust was held in Auschwitz-Birkenau on Sunday.Reuters
School children from Turkey's Jewish community leave notes on a symbolic railway track during a commemoration event on International Holocaust Remembrance Day at Etz Ahayim Synagogue in Istanbul January 27, 2013. The International Day of Commemoration, which was designated by the United Nations General Assembly to honour Holocaust victims, occurs annually on January 27.Reuters
Former prisoners arrive to lay wreaths and flowers at the death wall of the Auschwitz concentration camp on January 27, 2013 during a ceremony marking the 68th anniversary of the camp's liberation by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust, in Auschwitz-Birkenau.Reuters
The sign "Arbeit macht frei" at the main gate to the Auschwitz concentration camp is seen on January 27, 2013. A ceremony to mark the 68th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust was held in Auschwitz-Birkenau on Sunday.Reuters
Grand-daughter of Holocaust survivor Gucia Teiblum, takes a photograph of a sweater knitted by her grandmother at a Nazi concentration camp, during the opening of a new display at the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem January 27, 2013. "Gathering the Fragments", the new display features Holocaust-era keepsakes handed over by aging Israeli survivors or their relatives, in a campaign to preserve their memory for future generations. The new displayed opened on Sunday, which is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.Reuters
Pictures of former prisoners hang on a wall at one of the barracks at the Auschwitz concentration camp January 27, 2013. A ceremony to mark the 68th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust was held in Auschwitz-Birkenau on SundayReuters
A visitor passes through a newly-opened Russian exhibition at the Auschwitz concentration camp January 27, 2013. A ceremony to mark the 68th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust was held in Auschwitz-Birkenau on Sunday.Reuters
A woman lights a candle during a memorial ceremony for International Holocaust Remembrance Day at Raoul Wallenberg Square in Stockholm in this January 27, 2013 picture taken by Scanpix Sweden.Reuters
Tzvia Shkolnik, a friend of late Holocaust survivor Edit Faber, poses for a photograph near a doll which had been hidden with Faber during World War Two, during the opening of a new display at the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem January 27, 2013. "Gathering the Fragments", the new display features Holocaust-era keepsakes handed over by aging Israeli survivors or their relatives, in a campaign to preserve their memory for future generations. The new displayed opened on Sunday, which is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.Reuters
Turkey's Chief Rabbi Izak Haleva (2nd R), Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yusuf Cetin (front L), Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (2nd L) and Turkish Ambassador Ertan Tezgor (front R) stand in remembrance of holocaust victims during a commemoration event on International Holocaust Remembrance Day at Etz Ahayim Synagogue in Istanbul January 27, 2013. The International Day of Commemoration, which was designated by the United Nations General Assembly to honour Holocaust victims, occurs annually on January 27.Reuters
Members of Turkey's Jewish community gather at Etz Ahayim Synagogue to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Istanbul January 27, 2013. The International Day of Commemoration, which was designated by the United Nations General Assembly to honour Holocaust victims, occurs annually on January 27.Reuters