Holocaust » Overview

Overview

Over the last half century a great many programs on Holocaust education and initiatives on Holocaust remembrance have been launched and continue to be implemented in countries primarily located in Europe and North America and Israel, most of whom are members of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). However, little is known about programs and initiatives on the subject outside of IHRA.

Salzburg Global Seminar, together with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, seeks to bring greater awareness of Holocaust education and remembrance programs in other countries with the objective of fostering dialogue, promoting tolerance, and providing a knowledge-sharing resource platform.

“I am honoured to have been associated with this project since its inception in 2009. Working together, the Seminar and the Museum have brought together scholars, educators and policy makers from different academic disciplines, and from many different parts of the world, to consider how far, and in what ways, education about the Holocaust and other genocides can actually contribute to the prevention of further such tragedies in the future.”

- Kofi Annan

Visit the country profile pages for more detailed  information.
For information on Holocaust education around the world, please download:

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES ON HOLOCAUST EDUCATION: Trends, Patterns, and Practices, a publication of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Salzburg Global Seminar, 2013

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Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention Initiative Announce Professional Development Opportunity
Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention Initiative Announce Professional Development Opportunity
Salzburg Global Staff Writer 
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Salzburg Global Seminar are pleased to invite applications for the International Educator Institute. This professional development opportunity is aimed at those engaged in Holocaust and genocide education residing outside the United States, Canada and Western Europe. The workshop will be held from September 16-20, 2013, at the USHMM in Washington, DC, and is being offered as part of the USHMM and SGS Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention Initiative.  The Museum will cover all related expenses. Special consideration will be given to candidates applying from the Middle East and North Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe. To apply, please visit this website. The deadline for receiving applications is Wednesday, May 1, 2013. For further information please contact: Dan Napolitano or Marie-Louise Ryback.
Ongoing Initiative The Salzburg Global Seminar’s Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention Initiative is an ongoing project that has been developed in cooperation with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Austrian Foreign Ministry to investigate the links between Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention. Within the initiative, there are two programmatic strands: one focused on Holocaust Education (under which this opportunity falls), the other focused on Genocide Prevention. Holocaust Education The Holocaust Education programs have been running since 2010. These have included a series of working group meetings as well as two larger international conferences that have built on the work of the working groups. In 2012, a symposium was held to examine the role of the Holocaust as a reference point for educators around the world who teach about human rights and other genocides. This symposium particularly focused on those countries that were not members of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research (ITF).  Participants came from countries as diverse as Mexico, Turkey and South Korea, as well as countries that have suffered their own ethnic violence and genocides, such as Cambodia, South Africa and Armenia, together with countries more commonly associated with Holocaust education, research and commemoration, like Germany, Austria, and the USA, all of which are members of the ITF. The participants discussed not only how they could better teach about the Holocaust and the connected issues of human rights, shared history, prejudice, state and citizen responsibility and the role of democracy, but also what they could learn from this teaching to better understand and learn about and from their own countries’ violent, in some cases genocidal pasts. Genocide Prevention Within this initiative, Genocide Prevention has always been a central point of interest and has been embedded as a conceptual theme and goal in much of the partnered organizations’ work.  In 2012, a multi-year program in partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, focused exclusively on Genocide Prevention. In September, 2012, the USHMM hosted the first planning meeting for this project. Key experts were involved in this planning meeting to determine the specific case studies that this project will examine, and to shape its development, with Bosnia and Rwanda tentatively proposed as pilot studies to test which approaches including oral histories, archival documents, witness testimonies, and other primary source materials may provide the most effective means toward formulating a methodology in studying, and ultimately preventing other genocides.
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Understanding Past and Deterring Future Atrocities
Understanding Past and Deterring Future Atrocities
Marie-Louise Ryback 
When should external actors respond to what may be a potential genocide?  What considerations are parts of the decision-making process?  Conversely, what do we know about decision-making on the side of the perpetrators?  What influences their actions?  Can effective measures be taken to deter a potential genocide? If yes, how can these measures be determined and implemented? These are some of the questions that experts and senior policy makers grappled with at a meeting in Washington, DC from September 9 to 11.  Chaired by Edward Mortimer, Senior Adviser of Salzburg Global Seminar, Michael Abramowitz, Director of the Committee on Conscience at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), and Thomas Blanton, Director of the United States National Security Archive (USNSA), this initial planning meeting was convened to frame a larger, long-term joint project on genocide prevention. Bosnia and Rwanda were tentatively proposed as pilot studies to test which approaches including oral histories, archival documents, witness testimonies, and other primary source materials may provide the most effective means toward formulating a methodology in studying other genocides. There were keynote speeches from Francis Deng, formerly Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide to the Secretary-General, and now ambassador of South Sudan, to the United Nations, and Don Steinberg, Deputy USAID administrator and a member of President Obama’s new Atrocities Prevention Board. A follow up meeting is planned for July 2013 at Salzburg Global Seminar, at Schloss Leopoldskron, Austria. The objective of the initiative is to provide up and coming policy makers, journalists, social scientists, NGO activists and other stakeholders practical recommendations for countering possible future genocides. The meeting was funded by the Sudikoff Family Foundation and organized jointly by USHMM, SGS and USNSA.
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The Holocaust: A distinct history, a universal message
The Holocaust: A distinct history, a universal message
Louise Hallman 
Aloys Mahwa wasn’t in Rwanda when the genocide happened. He and his family were just 10 minutes over the border in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. “From Congo we could watch and see what was happening...we were touched because we had relatives in Rwanda,” says the now executive director and researcher at the Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies Center in the Rwandan capital, Kigali. Between April and June 1994, an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsi Rwandans were killed by their Hutu compatriots. Whilst Mahwa and his immediate family might have escaped the 100 days of killing, when they returned to their country as soon as it was deemed safe, his extended family had not been so lucky. “My father lost almost 80 per cent of his brothers and sisters. It was a very huge family of ten children. And also I lost aunts, nephews and cousins,” explains Mahwa. Knowing the exact times and places his family were slaughtered is difficult. “There is work to do in terms of document[ing] the members of our family – their ages, when they were killed, the circumstances. Sometimes it’s not easy because you don’t really identify perpetrators; you don’t find [the victims’] bodies, and so on. It’s a very frustrating history,” he adds. But with its own genocidal past, which it is still struggling to come to terms with, especially with regards to educating future generations about the atrocities that took place in the central African country, why is it important for Rwanda to learn about the Holocaust, which is widely considered a primarily European and Jewish experience? More than just a Jewish experience “First of all we want to understand our own genocide...It’s only 18 years ago that the genocide happened... and up until now, people are facing some realities like...victims living with perpetrators, orphans, survivors from genocide now are [having] children. “So that’s why we’re trying to be open and that’s why we’re learning about the Holocaust. We expect support from them [teachers of the Holocaust] because they have a huge experience and a long history, materials, personal engagement, and that’s very, very meaningful for us,” says Mahwa. For three days, at Schloss Leopoldskron – once home to the local Gauleiter (leader of the regional Nazi party), now the headquarters of Salzburg Global Seminar – 31 experts from across the globe considered the value of Holocaust education in a global context, in an international symposium held as part of an initiative co-sponsored by the Salzburg Global Seminar and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) with support of the Austrian Future Fund and the National Fund of the Republic of Austria. Rwanda is not the only country not traditionally associated with the Holocaust to recognize this value of educating future generations.  This symposium is focusing on the work that is currently being undertaken by educators in countries that are not members of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research (ITF).  Participants have come from countries as diverse as Mexico and South Korea, as well as countries that have suffered their own ethnic violence and genocides, such as Cambodia, South Africa and Armenia, together with countries more commonly associated with Holocaust education, research and commemoration, like Germany, Austria, and the USA, all of which are members of the ITF. These participants are here not only to learn about how they can better teach about the Holocaust and the connected issues of human rights, shared history, prejudice, state and citizen responsibility and the role of democracy, but also what they can learn from this teaching to better understand and learn about and from their own countries’ violent pasts. For teachers in South Africa, a country ravaged by years of racial segregation and violence, the Holocaust can provide a theoretical framework that can be used to help understand the Apartheid regime, which might otherwise prove to personal and “painful”, explains Tracey Peterson, education director of the Cape Town Holocaust Centre. “The history of the Holocaust ... illuminates our history in quite direct ways,” explains the former high school history teacher. “The most obvious connection is the fact that in order to understand what happens in the Holocaust you need to understand the construction of the state under Nazi rule and in many ways what the Nazi government does is what happens in South Africa under the Apartheid government; segregation had existed in South Africa before Apartheid but what the Apartheid government does it consolidates rules, introduces new laws and really concerted all other efforts to divide people according to made-up categories. So South Africans find a lot of resonance in that part of the history of the Holocaust. “But I think more than that, I think what it also does it reminds South Africans that there are in some ways other histories of suffering, but also other histories of moving beyond that trauma, and so I think it can be instructive on that level.” Cambodia, too, is using the Holocaust to illustrate that it was not only its own country that has a troubled past. “In Cambodia I think it is very good to introduce learning about the Holocaust because the majority, they don’t know what happened in World War Two or the Holocaust. So there is an effort from [the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam)] in trying to show the Cambodians that genocide does not happen only in their country but it has also happened in other places,” says Sayana Ser, Team Leader, Student Outreach and Cham Oral History Project, at the DC-Cam. Since its establishment in 1995, DC-Cam has aimed to “help Cambodians heal the wounds of the past by documenting, researching, and sharing the history of the Khmer Rouge period”. Facts, not emotions Firm in the belief that “a society cannot know itself if it does not have an accurate memory of its own history,”DC-Cam has been working towards “reconstructing” Cambodia’s modern history. To this end, Ser and her colleagues use the Holocaust as a case study through which to teach critical and comparative thinking about the Khmer Rouge-led genocide of 1975-1979, during which approximately 1.7 million people lost their lives (over a fifth of the country’s then-population). “[We use] the Holocaust as a case study and then they must study their own history so that they can compare, especially the concept that the survivors have suffering in common with a dark regime like this. When they learn about the Holocaust it can help them [to know] that it has not only happened in their own country,” says Ser. In the spirit of a thorough exchange of global knowledge and experience, not only have the Rwandan and Cambodian participants learnt from their international colleagues who have been teaching about the Holocaust, but they have also been sharing their own teaching experiences with each other. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge genocide did not appear in school history books until the 1990s, and even then, this was limited to a small number of paragraphs before being removed completely for political reasons in 1998. The DC-Cam has been working with both local and international experts in law, anthropology, and political science to design a new curriculum for genocide studies and human rights in the country. A text book was published in 2007 and in 2009 the teachers’ manual was also published. Through these new teaching materials, Ser hopes not only can Cambodians receive a fuller teaching of their nations history, but also move beyond the typically vengeful and retributive history that had previously been taught in schools. “We stick to the facts, not emotions,” says Ser. It is this example that the Rwandans now also hope to incorporate into the teaching of their own Holocaust. “We are not going to invent history when we are teaching genocide in a class,” says Mahwa. “We are afraid to talk about genocide because the wounds are very fresh. Not only because of that, but also there is an idea of protecting children. We don’t teach atrocity to children – we prefer protecting them, instead of exposing them... “But it is my perception that we should... We’re not choosing the same materials...but adopt[ing] textbooks. For example, picture books – these can help. In the post-Cambodia [situation] they’re trying to use this textbook for teachers and students.” Beyond countries that have faced their own genocides and ethnic conflict, the Holocaust is also being taught elsewhere, primarily through the prism of human rights, democracy and peace education, and also in the effort to prevent such atrocities from happening again – something Mahwa wishes had existed in Rwanda, pre-1994. “I was touched by the countries that [have] not experience genocide and who are engaged to understand Holocaust, in a perspective of preventing it,” says Mahwa, “...They can prevent genocide by teaching their students about Holocaust. So that touched me in the way that if we had profited from that experience before, maybe the genocide would not have happened in our context, in Rwanda.” Yael Siman Druker is the founder and director of Mexican civic association Nenemi Paxia that seeks to deepen the work of Facing History and Ourselves (FHAO) in Mexico and to strengthen democracy by building a civic culture of prevention. Through her work as a Holocaust researcher and educator she has helped develop the Holocaust exhibit at the Memory and Tolerance Museum Project in Mexico and also coordinate three “Facing History” seminars for Mexican high school teachers and, together with colleagues, introduced FHAO in the curriculum of a Jesuit high school in the country. Siman herself is Jewish, but she thinks Holocaust education in Mexico has a much greater resonance beyond that of her own religious heritage. “Some themes resonate to Mexicans. One of them is democracy, the fragility of democracy; we look at the Weimar period, for example where we see a new democracy taking shape with certain characteristics, with strengths and weaknesses, and then we can connect this period with not only Mexico during the same period – because at that same time there was also a new democracy taking shape, a new constitution being written – but also with today, because we can think of how we can strengthen our democracy, what weakens it, why is it fragile, how can we advance our democratization process?” explains Siman. Holocaust education also has resonance for modern Mexican society, adds Siman. “Then you have all these themes about ‘otherness’, ‘prejudice’, ‘discrimination’, ‘exclusion’...We haven’t had genocide in Mexico but we’ve had past experience with mass violence, and today we have terrible human rights abuses such as feminicide, violation of human rights of migrants who come from Central America, go through Mexico trying to get to the north, then they get kidnapped and killed... “There is also one theme: transitional justice. In contrast to countries that have had genocide and afterwards dealt with how to do justice, in Mexico mass violence has not been followed by transitional justice processes. So instead of having equal processes, we have contrasting ones, but you can still learn from those positive examples to work on it so that you can improve conditions in your country.” Another country not traditionally associated with the Holocaust which is taking its first tentative steps into Holocaust education is Turkey, which has held observer status to the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research, since 2008.  So far, the only Muslim-majority country to do so, it is currently considering applying for membership beyond this observer status, which requires an applicant country to open up its national archives to Holocaust researchers, establish a Holocaust memorial and develop a national curriculum of Holocaust education.  Deconstructing the myths It is against this backdrop that the first pilot project on Holocaust education led by the Netherlands-based Anne Frank House and the USHMM has been recently launched in the country, and representatives of the project have joined their peers at Salzburg Global Seminar to share their approach to the subject. The results of the pilot project will be presented upon completion to the Turkish government, in the hope of later gaining official backing. However in contrast to those from some of the countries taking part in the seminar at Schloss Leopoldskron, which also have their own painful national pasts, the education initiative in Turkey is focusing solely on the Holocaust, and not introducing links to the country’s own still very controversial history over the treatment of Armenians during the Ottoman Empire.  The death of between 300,000 to 1.5 million Armenians in 1915-16 is recognized as genocide by Armenia and now more than 20 other countries, including Argentina, Belgium, Canada, France, Italy, Russia and Uruguay.  However, the Turkish government heavily disputes this, denying that this was a systemic effort by the old imperial Ottoman authorities to exterminate the Turkish-Armenian population. Although there are no plans to use the Holocaust to approach this strained period of Turkish history, Cihan Tekeli, a Dutch Muslim of Turkish-born parents, working with the International Department of the Netherlands-based Anne Frank House, believes his organization’s education programs are still extremely worthwhile, in the predominantly Muslim country. “There is a link with the Holocaust [in Turkey].  It’s not as big a link as with, for example, the Netherlands [the home of the well-known Holocaust diarist and victim Anne Frank], but it is there. On one hand for the Turks it is important that they need to focus on this, their own history relating to the Holocaust and the war.  There are a lot of myths around it. “I see our task [at the Anne Frank House],” explains Tekeli, “of demythifying [sic] and deconstructing the myths and looking at a more neutral, more realistic picture of what did really happen at that time; what was Turkey’s role, what were Turkish Jews going through?  Both the positive – as well as the not-so-nice – stories, because they are also there.  “Some Turkish officials abroad helped [hide and save Jews], endangering their own lives... so this definitely needs recognition I think. It’s extremely important.  But, there were also other incidents where Turkey could have done other things, such as the Struma incident [Turkish officials turned away a boat of hundreds of European Jewish refugees, which was then bombed a Soviet warship and sank in the Black Sea], which is rather unknown, also for Turks... That’s history that needs to get more attention.” Whilst the Anne Frank House-USHMM Holocaust education projects do not plan to address the contentious Turkish-Armenian issue, part of their projects in the country have focussed on human rights, encouraging teenagers and young people to make videos debating certain aspects of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – written in the wake of the Holocaust – and applying these values to modern Turkey. One area of the world where Holocaust education is not being viewed through the prism of human rights education, however, is China. Like many of his Holocaust education peers at the Salzburg Global Seminar, Glenn Timmermans is rather lonely in the field in his region. As part of his teaching in the Department of English at the University of Macau, China, Timmermans has launched courses on the Holocaust at the university, despite some reservations from fellow faculty as to the relevance of the course for their students. Many of his students – primarily from Macau and mainland China – only have a passing knowledge of the Holocaust, mostly gleaned from Hollywood movies such as Schindler’s List. But this has not deterred the British professor. “I think the Holocaust is a subject that really is universal,” says Timmermans, who is also greatly involved in Holocaust education in the other special administrative region of China, Hong Kong, as well as being the co-ordinator of the annual Chinese Educators’ Seminar at Yad Vashem, the World Center for Holocaust Research, Education, Documentation and Commemoration in Jerusalem, Israel. “Even though it is a European Jewish experience, it is an earthquake in Western conscientiousness and I think that if people want to learn about all the glories of the West, the need to know about some of the negative aspects of the West,” he explains. “...As a literature professor, I think it is very important that my students know that if they want to know about Western culture, Western literature, they must know about this event... “But we have to be wary of using terms like ‘human rights’... As soon as you try and teach, as discussed at this conference, ‘how do we link it to human rights?’ – it’s potentially problematic. If we can introduce it through straight history, straight literature, then get people to cover the issues and perhaps draw their own conclusions without us having to prompt them, would be the most effective way,” concludes Timmermans. But whether taught through the prism of human rights, democracy and peace education, or in order to help a society recover from its own trauma, or through “straight history, straight literature” leading students to make their own conclusions, ultimately the Salzburg Global Seminar session on Learning from the Past: Global Perspectives on Holocaust Education could be summarized by the late night fire-side chat statement made by Ghanaian professor, Edward Kissi, a specialist in African perspectives on the Holocaust and associate professor of Africana Studies at the University of South Florida, USA. “The holocaust may have a distinct history, but it has a universal message: dreadful things happen when human rights are not respected.”
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“If, what and how do we learn from history?”
“If, what and how do we learn from history?”
Louise Hallman 
The second Salzburg Global Seminar symposium on Holocaust Education launched on Thursday, June 28 at Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, bringing together 29 experts from across the globe, all working in the field of genocide research, documentation and education. Speaking at the opening session, session chair Klaus Mueller, an international consultant for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, highlighted the twin challenges to be addressed during the three-day symposium – teaching about the Holocaust and learning from the Holocaust – and the need to recognize and appropriately treat the difference between these two aspects of Holocaust and genocide education. The session follows on from the 2010 session ‘The Global Prevention of Genocide: Learning from the Holocaust’. “The Holocaust was genocide, but no other genocide has been a holocaust,” said Mueller. However, whilst acknowledging that, Mueller was quick to point out that there would be no attempt to place genocides and their victims in any form of hierarchy. Instead, the focus of the symposium will be to learn about other genocides – how the atrocities were committed, and learn from other genocide – what actions were taken to stop them, as well as examining the role of the Holocaust as a reference point for educators around the world who teach about human rights and other genocides. In particular, this symposium will focus on the work that is currently being undertaken by educators in countries that are not members of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research (ITF). Mueller’s own research specialism is the persecution of homosexuals during Nazi rule, and although the session title primarily focuses on the Holocaust – namely the Nazi attempt to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe – participants of the session have research and first-hand experience of a wide range of other genocides, from Rwanda and former Yugoslavia to Armenia and Cambodia, amongst others. “How can we move from reaction to prevention?” asked Mueller, a key question for the session’s participants. Highlighting the attempts to prevent genocide through international declarations and conventions, and the formation of national and international government task forces to assess the potential risk of future genocide, Mueller also asked the gathered audience of experts: “Where do we stand with education as a form of prevention?” Recognizing that much of the work previously conducted by the Seminar in the field of Holocaust education had focused almost exclusively on the European and North American context, Mueller stressed the importance of the global aspect of this week’s symposium. “Our conversation is of value in itself,” he said. Discussions over the three days will cover the successes and challenges in developing Holocaust and human rights education programs, particularly in post-conflict societies, with case studies from Turkey and an excursion to the Documentation Center in Obersalzberg. Participants will not only assess current approaches, pedagogies, and methodologies for connecting education about the Holocaust, other genocides, and human rights, but also hope to produce new teaching materials that will aid in the future education on such matters. The session has been funded the Austrian Future Fund and the National Fund of the Republic of Austria, in partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Austrian Foreign Ministry.
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Kofi A. Annan,  Secretary-General of the United Nations, 1997-2006

Honorary President, Salzburg Initiative on Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention