Skip to main content

the future of holocaust education

Following the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, this briefing on the Future of Holocaust Education brought together experts from academic institutions and international organizations, researchers, educators and authors who examined current trends in Holocaust research and education. 

They discussed ways to expand teacher training and Holocaust education around the world; how to adapt to a changing environment with the rise of multicultural classroom settings and losing eye witnesses to testify to the Holocaust; and what role international organizations have to play in the field.

Moderator: Kimberly Mann, Chief, Education Outreach Section
Spoke of the five Holocaust events that took place during the week
Welcomed two survivors who were present in the audience.
Set the stage for the briefing “How do we reach young people to educate and remember?”

Ms. Jane Jacobs-Kimmelman, Director, International Relations Department, International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem
Over 20 years ago the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem was established with an emphasis on education especially for future generations.
400,000 students come annually.
The School works with programs in 60 countries in 24 languages from across Europe as well as an increasing global reach to Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Argentina and even into the Arab world-in Turkey, Morocco and Israel.
Courses discuss what happened before, during and after the war and are age appropriate. The “human story” is emphasized with survivor testimony.
Challenges include revisionism, holocaust denial, anti-Semitism, and “holocaust fatigue”.

Ms. Zehavit Gross, Professor, Bar-Illan University and UNESCO Chair in Education for Human Values, Tolerance, Democracy and Peace
Ms. Gross, a survivor, feels we must keep discourse burning.
Education, in the context of human rights literature, meaning not only connected to the past but toward the future, lies in its ability to be relevant to future generations.
We need to learn from the Holocaust which is now the defining symbol of denying human rights.
Social media provides students with basic steps to prevent racism.
We cannot be indifferent. We must act.
Teachers need to equip students with practical tools to combat anti-Semitism.
 Remembrance has not faded and that is why education is so relevant.

Ms. Cecilie Felicia Stokholm Banke, Senior Researcher, Danish Institute For International Studies
Almost every European country commemorates the Holocaust Remembrance on January 27.
Deeply affected by refugees fleeing ISIS in Syria and Iraq and the mass rapes, killings and genocide.
Drawing comparisons to the Holocaust, she asks, “What will be the impact?”
To make decisions in this situation, we must draw on history
Well-known fact that Denmark helped Jews fleeing from the Nazis, escape to Sweden.
In the 1930s, Denmark failed to recognize what was happening to the Jews in Germany.
So, now as in then, how to handle all the fleeing refugees?

Ms. Deborah Dwork, Professor, Clark University
There are new developments and trends in the field of Holocaust education.
The core question now being asked is: what is the purpose of Holocaust education? For middle and high school students emphasis is on genocides, prejudice, bullying, and racism.
There is a trend to widen the lens of holocaust study to include all genocide.

Mr. Szabolcs Takacs, Chair, International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) is an intergovernmental political organization established in 1998. Its mandate was founded on the Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust. Its aims are to mobilize and coordinate support for education, remembrance, research, genocide prevention and combating anti-Semitism on the national and international levels. Teacher training, curricula development, establishing museums, and study trips are all part of its mission.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) is made up of 31 countries with a global mission.
IHRA is an inter-governmental organization, not a Jewish or political one.
For 25 years in many countries behind the iron curtain, the Holocaust was denied and could not be discussed.
Through education, remembrance of the Holocaust and its victims (the Jews, ROMA, LGBTs and so many others) can be maintained through more sustainable long-term goals.
It is important to fight ignorance and intolerance with education.
There is still the “shadow of anti-Semitism” in Eastern Europe-maybe it’s not demonstrated with violence but is certainly part of social media.
Governments cannot be bystanders and must have responsibilities and roles. Along with zero tolerance, rules and legislation are needed.

During the Q and A:
A survivor spoke eloquently and issued this warning not to compare the Holocaust with other genocides. He also hopes that emphasis should be placed on the good deeds of the “Righteous Among the Nations” and with Jews who saved Jews.


January 28, 2016
REPORTED BY FRAN BUTENSKY AND JUDY MINTZ, ICJW Representatives UN NY