Holocaust » Overview


Since 2010, Salzburg Global Seminar has implemented the Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention Program in partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Through a series of global and regional gatherings, the Program has engaged participants from more than 40 countries on six continents, the majority of which are non-Western countries, and many of which have a recent experience of mass atrocities. The Program has established a network of individuals and NGOs across these countries, and strives to deepen and extend their collaborative work, allowing practitioners to identify cross-regional strategies to empower institutions and individuals with tools for ethical education and peaceful conflict resolution.

Faced with a rise in violent extremism, policymakers are under pressure to invest in prevention and to show that it works. Structured efforts to reduce extremist mindsets and behaviors have existed for some time, but evidence of effectiveness is often not widely known or utilized. Many interventions require considerable time to affect change, making rigorous measurement of their success over the long-term resource-intensive with sustained political will around an often-unpopular topic. What works? How do we know? And will it work in different geographic, cultural, and political contexts? 

Salzburg Global Seminar’s Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention (HEGP) Program works across cultures and contexts, including where perceptions and definitions of “extremism” differ widely. The emphasis on grassroots activity within existing institutional budgets anchors projects in their local communities and improves chances for longer-term sustainability. Activities depend on the partners and are demand-driven: the Program provides no financial support to activity implementation, but rather the Program facilitates networks and exchange of experiences across borders to help in-country partners achieve their own institutional mandates, and to help external partners (government, academic, and other interested parties) to have access to practical feedback from on the ground within affected countries and communities.

For detailed information on countries that are not currently part of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), please see: Holocaust Education.

For detailed reports from Salzburg Global Seminar sessions and compiled by Fellows, please see: Salzburg Global Publications

For further Holocaust Education resources from our partner, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, please see: Additional USHMM Resources


Updates from the Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention Program

Re-envisioning Salzburg Global Seminar
Re-envisioning Salzburg Global Seminar
Salzburg Global Seminar 
Salzburg Global Seminar proudly presents its new periodical, The Salzburg Global Chronicle. Replacing the traditional annual President’s Report, the new publication “chronicles” Salzburg Global’s programs at Schloss Leopoldskron and around the world, including profiles on both “up-and-coming” leaders and high profile Salzburg Global Fellows, and features on the impact Salzburg Global Seminar, its programs, staff and Fellows have in the world beyond the Schloss.

Highlights include:

15 Faces for the Future  

Salzburg Global Seminar’s mission is to challenge current and future leaders to tackle problems of global concern. To this end, Salzburg Global brings young, emerging leaders to Schloss Leopoldskron, not only for our Academies programs, but for every Salzburg Global session. Nearly 500 of our 1844 Fellows who attended sessions between 2011 and 2013 were under the age of 40, in addition to the more than 800 Academies participants. Below are just 15 of our remarkable young Fellows.

The Power of Partnership 

Salzburg Global Seminar’s programs would not happen without our partners. Partners provide not only the intellectual capital and input to drive the session forward but often the much needed financial capital necessary to bring Fellows and faculty to Salzburg. But what do partners get out of working with Salzburg Global?

A Distinct History, a Universal Message  

For three days, at a palace once home to the local Nazi party leader, experts from across the globe considered the value of Holocaust education in a global context at a symposium hosted by Salzburg Global and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. They proved the Holocaust is more than just a European or Jewish experience.

Strength in Diversity 

LGBT rights are moving up the international agenda, and while progress is being made, at the same time some countries are passing increasingly regressive laws. In June 2013, Salzburg Global convened its first ever Salzburg Global LGBT Forum addressing LGBT and Human Rights: New Challenges, Next Steps, starting a truly global conversation.

An Unlikely Constellation of Partners  

Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the Appalachian College Association, member institutions of which serve predominantly white students, do not seem like the most obvious of partners. But this did not stop them from coming together to transform their schools into sites of global citizenship through the Salzburg Global Seminar-led, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded Mellon Fellow Community Initiative.

Media Change Makers

Since helping to launch the program in 2007, Salzburg Global President Stephen L. Salyer has taken a hands-on role in the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change: helping to devise the program, delivering lectures and mentoring students. This year, he met with student representatives from each region represented at the eighth annual program to find out how the Academy is helping shape them. The Chronicle is available online at chronicle2013.salzburgglobal.org and to download as a PDF and in our ISSUU Library    Download the Salzburg Global Chronicle as a PDF Print copies are available at Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron and all upcoming Salzburg Global Seminar events and programs.
Former Resident Director Tim Ryback Publishes New Book
Former Resident Director Tim Ryback Publishes New Book
Jonathan Elbaz 
Timothy Ryback, the former resident director for Salzburg Global, just published a new book about the first victims of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. It's called Hitler's First Victims: The Quest For Justice, and it's currently available to purchase on Amazon. The book follows the courageous German prosecutor, Josef Hartinger, who risked everything to expose the first killers in the Holocaust. The book description explains, "Hitler’s First Victims exposes the chaos and fragility of the Nazis’ early grip on power and dramatically suggests how different history could have been had other Germans followed Hartinger’s example of personal courage in that time of collective human failure." Meanwhile, read reviews of the new book by the Wall Street Journal and the Boston Globe.
Helena Kennedy and Michael Kirby: "A Law Unto Themselves"
Helena Kennedy and Michael Kirby: "A Law Unto Themselves"
Tanya Yilmaz 
Helena Kennedy had not even finished listing attributed qualities when Justice Michael Kirby interrupted her with a good-humored laugh.

“God that makes me exhausted! I didn’t know I’d been accused of so many crimes,” Kirby remarked.

In an interview for BBC Radio 4,
Cutler Lecturer Baroness Helena Kennedy spoke to Salzburg Global Fellow, Justice Michael Kirby, in a new series of talks called “A Law Unto Themselves”. The series will see Kennedy interview four eminent international lawyers and judges whose courage and dedication to protecting the rule of law has helped make societies more justifiable.

Kirby discussed how his life-long pursuit of justice was driven by his own experiences with equal gay rights in Australia which has led him to use his expertise to fight for human rights in North Korea.

He was the first Australian High Court judge to come out as gay in 1999 after he revealed that he had been in a stable same-sex relationship since 1969. Kirby has since campaigned for gay rights which have brought him into conflict with not only politicians but also the church and fellow judges.

As a Salzburg Global Seminar Fellow, Kirby has attended numerous sessions in the past including, “Biotechnology: Legal, Ethical and Social Issues” and “Telecommunications: Policy Issues and Regulatory Practices.” Kirby also expressed support for (though was unable to attend) the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum in Berlin this year. Whilst in North Korea, Kirby produced a report detailing and investigation into the widespread violations of human rights in the country and to ensure full accountability is evident, particularly, for acts which may be classified as crimes against humanity. In 2014, Kirby penned a letter to the participants of the Salzburg Global session Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention: Sharing Experience Across Borders”, where he outlined the work of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry on human rights violations, particularly within the context of North Korea. He not only discussed the modern definition of genocide but also called for participants to engage with new issues such as the global approach to narcotic drug control; human rights issues presented by HIV; the issues of animal rights, protection and welfare. In his letter, Kirby stated: “I applaud the program at which the marvellous Salzburg Global Seminar will address issues presented by Holocaust and genocide education.” When talking with Kennedy about his judicial work within the High Court of Australia and the Court of Appeal of New South Wales, Kirby made reference to how he adopts the rule of law based on his values.

“I do admit that my background, my experience, my education and my sexuality have an impact on your values and values are critically important – the higher you go up the judiciary ladder, the more important are your values because in the spaces left in the ambiguities of law and statues,” Kirby explained.

Baroness Helena Kennedy has also strong ties with Salzburg Global having been the Cutler lecturer at the “Third Annual Lloyd N. Cutler Lecture on the Rule of Law: ‘Conversation at the Court’”. She also attended Cutler Fellow Program in 2012 as well as the November Board of Directors Dinner in the same year. During the interview, Kennedy described Kirby as the “Great Dissenter”, as he frequently votes against his fellow judges and expresses his personal views outside of the courtroom – something which judges are not supposed to do.

The BBC program also featured speakers such as John Doth and Geoffrey Robertson, who both praised for Kirby’s openness about his sexuality.

Robertson said: “He had two qualities which were remarkable as a judge…He was gay and he came out, and that gave him the perspective of a minority group, it gave him a real, visceral understanding of how law and non-discrimination law was important for different groups of people… [which] marked him as someone who was particularly able to bring the law into the 21st century and into a position where it could better advance human aspirations.”

Doth added that by coming out as gay, Kirby “gave a real respectability to the gay community” and it made a huge difference to public attitudes in Australia. 
To listen to Baroness Helena Kennedy interview Justice Michael Kirby, go to the BBC iPlayer website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04bnd0l Download Michael Kirby's letter to Salzburg Global Fellows on Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention
Holocaust Education: The Case of Australia
Holocaust Education: The Case of Australia
Tanya Yilmaz 
Australia is not typically associated to the Holocaust; it is geographically far from both where the systematic decimation of European Jewry took place and the two countries now most commonly associated with the commemoration and memorialization of those lost – Israel and the USA. It is also not a member of the International Holocaust Memorial Alliance (IHRA), which is predominantly made up of European and North American countries.

But actually, as the Salzburg Initiative on Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention’s publication Global Perspectives on Holocaust Education: Trends, Patterns, and Practices – 2013 outlines, Australia has a surprisingly strong connection with post-Holocaust history.

In 1933, there was a small Jewish community of just 23,000 in Australia, and at the time, the government’s immigration quota restricted the number of immigrants to 5,000 per year during the war – a number which Australia was not keen on increasing at the 1938 Evian Conference, the international consultation meeting devoted to solving the problem of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution in Europe.

Whilst speaking at the conference, Australian delegate Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas W. White controversially said: “As we [Australia] have no real racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one by encouraging any scheme of large-scale foreign migration.”  

A few months later Australia reassessed its policy to accept 15,000 refugees over three years.

Now, Australia is home to the second largest percentage of Holocaust survivors, and it is estimated that 60,000 pre-war and post-war Holocaust survivors, mostly Jewish refugees, immigrated to the city of Melbourne alone by 1961. Israel is the only country with a larger percentage of Holocaust survivors in their population, currently standing at 150,000.

However despite the significant Jewish population, intolerance of Jewish communities has remained in Australia and the country has seen a recent upsurge in anti-Semitic attacks. In the last year alone there was a rise by 21% and this is the highest level on record, with 657 reports of racist violence against Jewish Australians and Jewish communities between October 2012 and September 2013 compared to 517 reports in 2011 to 2012.

Whilst speaking at the Salzburg Global session on “Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention: Sharing Experience Across Borders,” Sir Andrew Burns, Chair of IHRA, addressed the rise of anti-Semitism, acknowledging how such racist agitation can become more acute in times of economic uncertainty.

“Societies need to either remedy the problems of anti-Semitism or be much more forthright about the dangers of arousing hostility and prejudice against different groups,” Burns said in an interview with Salzburg Global. One way to remedy such problems is to ensure future generations are taught about history’s most extreme example of deeply-ingrained and state-sponsored anti-Semitism – the Holocaust.
In Australia, teaching about the Holocaust was explicitly included in the national curriculum in 2012, and currently, students across the country start to learn about the Holocaust from the age of 14. However, the level of detail regarding the topic can vary immensely from state to state and school to school. Some schools mention the Holocaust as part of an overview in the world history curricula. A more in-depth study of the Holocaust is also available in the German history course offered in grades 11 and 12, age 16 or 17, but this is an optional component. The varying depth of teaching about the Holocaust raises the question about the willingness of teachers to educate students about the Holocaust to a sufficient level.

Discussing teacher training at the Salzburg Global symposium on Holocaust education and genocide prevention, Yotam Weiner, education manager of the Sydney Jewish Museum said the core issue regarding the lack of Holocaust education lies with teachers – if they are disinterested in the topic, then so too will their students be.

“This is one of the challenges for us, to engage with teachers, even though it [Holocaust education] remains optional in their framework, not to treat it as optional,” Weiner explained.

The other aspect of the debate facing Holocaust education is how educators can or should teach through the Holocaust – rather than just generally about the Holocaust.

With its significant Jewish population, the Australian education system has paid close attention to highlighting such intolerance and prejudice as was present in Nazi Germany.

However, Australian education has questionably disengaged its Holocaust education from highlighting failures within their own cultural history – predominantly with the treatment of Aboriginal Australians.

From the emergence of colonization in Australia in 1778, the country tried to maintain racial purity by not only limiting immigration quotas, but also by imposing land ownership laws which drove Aboriginal people from their homelands – many dying from starvation in the process due to prohibited access of food. Many Aboriginal tribes died out completely and were either killed or beaten or contracted diseases by this economic marginalization. Those who survived were forced into slavery and it is unknown how many Aborigines died before 1909.

The situation declined once more for the remaining Aborigines after this time. Between 1909 and 1969, the Australian government forcibly removed over 100,000 children from their families in what was later described as a “resocialization” process – a rationale to, reportedly, protect children from the high levels of alcoholism and drug addiction found in Aboriginal communities. This was landmarked by the term “the Stolen Generation”. It was only in 2008 when the then-newly-appointed prime minister, Kevin Rudd, publically apologized to Aboriginal Australians for the historical treatment of Aboriginal people.

Today, Aboriginal Australians comprise 3% of the Australian population and remain marginalized.

Weiner believes there are clear educational benefits for students in teaching about other human rights violations through the lens of the Holocaust.

“It has the effect of helping students become reflective rather than reactive when they encounter other people.

“We need to teach students about the failures of societal structures and then equip and inspire them to build structures that don’t fail,” Weiner said.

Konrad Kwiet, Pratt Foundation Professor in Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies, at University of Sydney, Resident Historian at the Sydney Jewish Museum, and also a speaker at the Salzburg Initiative on Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention symposium, added that despite the valuable insight gained teaching through the Holocaust, precautions must be taken to ensure that the Holocaust is not overly instrumentalized and subsequently diminished by the teaching of other genocides and humanitarian atrocities.

“You reduce the significance of the Holocaust for Jews and you use the Holocaust for all sorts of issues – which are important  – but in doing so more or less the Holocaust becomes totally instrumentalized, and that is a now major concern which I see,” Kwiet explained. Finding a new audience
Besides these two issues, educators in Australia are also weighing in on the age dispute. To whom should we be teaching Holocaust education and at what age should this teaching start?  Currently, each country has their own answer. In the UK, Holocaust education is introduced to students at age 14, and this is currently the age from which students in Australia are also taught. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has produced guidelines for teaching Holocaust history from the age of 11, utilizing multimedia tools to introduce children to the topic rather than proceed with an in-depth examination.

In Israel, children learn about the Holocaust in 11th and 12th grades, age 16 and 17, and partake in a class trip to a Nazi concentration camp as part of their history and civics classes. However, educators have controversially proposed to start Holocaust education from the age of five – prompting much debate amongst international scholars. The Israeli Education Ministry and the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem have designed the program, which is aimed to serve as “prepatory” Holocaust education, teaching children about the social dynamics which led up to historical event for the ancestors of much of country’s population.

Weiner argues that children at such a young age may not understand the Holocaust’s complexities, and teaching of the subject should not risk raising a generation which is fearful of the powers of humanity.

“What you risk doing is failing in your endeavor because what you will be doing is reveal to students society’s biggest failure, and a huge chasm of human horror – and then just leaving them there. We need to also help them find a way out of that and help them find a way forward, and inspire and equip them to move forward,” Weiner explained.

Kwiet added that Australia must also consider the social and cultural setting in which Holocaust education is taught – a contributing factor to differing audiences due to the multicultural communities in the country.

“You need to know the schools in which you are offering classes and in Australia there is a diversity of schools – there are Jewish day schools, public and private schools, there are schools located in multi-national areas, particularly in Muslim districts,” Kwiet elaborated. Action call
Compared to others countries that are also not directly linked to the Holocaust, Australia arguably has the necessary initiatives in place – and its inclusion of the topic into its national curriculum is somewhat more developed than many other non-IHRA countries. But the issue educators now face is to agree on what to do with the topic which is more substantial than mere lip-service. For example in the state of New South Wales, Holocaust education was mandated in the national curriculum in 2012, but only came into effect in 2014. Like many other schools, the Holocaust is predominantly taught in the world history curricula and teachers have the option of adopting the syllabus in a variety of forms.

But as Weiner argues, this isn't enough: “In New South Wales, you could say it is compulsory but a teacher could get away with just mentioning it [Holocaust] in a sentence, so it isn’t really compulsory,” Weiner said.

Scholars have argued that in order to combat this, Holocaust education in Australia should be interdisciplinary, transcending both cognitive and emotional teaching approaches for an ever-changing – and a disagreed – audience.

Sydney Jewish Museum has sought to aid widespread teaching of the Holocaust by publishing its own training program – Teaching the Holocaust. The curricular source book, written by Sophie Gelski and originally published in 2003, includes an interdisciplinary scope, appropriate for English, geography, history, religious education, society and culture, and visual arts classes.

The materials aim to link the Holocaust to Australian history, noting the “cold and unwelcome” attitudes toward Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Europe while also making reference to the large proportion of Holocaust survivors in Australia today. In order to cater for all students, several versions have been created, one aimed at final year secondary students while another is devoted to younger teenagers.

Australia has seen, and will continue to see, countless debates regarding Holocaust education. Scholars, historians, teachers and policy makers must now mold these debates into a cohesive Holocaust curriculum – one that can be nationally applied yet locally appropriate, with an understanding of the primary audience as well as a clear judgment on whether to teach through or about the Holocaust.
The session "Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention: Sharing Experiences Across Borders" was developed in partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, with support from the Austrian Future Fund, the Austrian National Fund, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and the Pratt Foundation. The session was the third symposium in the joint Salzburg Global-USHMM Initiative on Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention. For more information and updates from the session, please see the session page: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/535 and on Twitter with the hashtag #SGShol
Sir Andrew Burns: "Societies need to be forthright about the dangers of arousing hostility and prejudice"
Sir Andrew Burns: "Societies need to be forthright about the dangers of arousing hostility and prejudice"
Tanya Yilmaz 
Sir Andrew Burns has revealed to Salzburg Global Seminar six-points of recommendation in the teaching of Holocaust education and genocide prevention on an international level. In our latest audio feature, Sir Andrew Burns reaffirms the importance of Holocaust education, particularly in countries that are not part of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). Burns is currently the Chair of IHRA for 2014-2015 as well as serving the role of UK Envoy for Post-Holocaust issues.

He was one of a number of guest speakers during the recent Salzburg Global session on "Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention: Sharing Experience Across Borders".

As head of the UK’s delegation to IHRA as well as to the International Commission for the International Tracing Service since 2010, Burns lectured at Salzburg Global on the achievements and challenges of Holocaust education and memorial, particularly in countries in IHRA. After his keynote speech, he spoke with Salzburg Global about how he believes society should teach about the Holocaust and how this in turn can help stop future atrocities.
The session "Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention: Sharing Experiences Across Borders" was developed in partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, with support from the Austrian Future Fund, the Austrian National Fund, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and the Pratt Foundation. The session was the third symposium in the joint Salzburg Global-USHMM Initiative on Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention. For more information and updates from the session, please see the session page: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/535 and on Twitter with the hashtag #SGShol
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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

“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