“We share a commitment to throw light on the still obscured shadows of the Holocaust.”
-- Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust
IHRA has funded 93 projects since the implementation of its current grant strategy in 2010. Below you will find summaries of some selected projects that reflect the wide scope of IHRA’s Grant Programme.
Click on a name to go directly to the project description, or scroll down to view them all.
The Raphael Lemkin Seminar for Genocide Prevention ● Teaching about the Genocide of the Roma ● Raoul Wallenberg-Symbol or Mystery? ● Lithuanian Holocaust Atlas ● Messaging to Remember ● Combating Antisemitic Conspiracy Theories as Tools for Political Mobilization ● Conference for Influential British, Eastern European, and Russian Journalists
The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation aims to create a genocide prevention-sensitive international community by nurturing a network in which policymakers and government officials from around the world can freely communicate, support each other, and identify best practices for dealing with mass atrocity. The Auschwitz Institute effectively builds its genocide prevention coalition through the Raphael Lemkin Seminar for Genocide Prevention, which initially brings together 20-25 mid-level government officials from the entire world in week-long seminars several times a year. The December 2013 seminar was attended by participants from Argentina, Burkina Faso, Chile, Georgia, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, South Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, the United States, and Vietnam.
The lectures, presentations, discussion groups, and simulation experiences during the seminar are organized and delivered by practitioners in the field who have firsthand experience in working to prevent genocidal situations, international NGO activists working in areas where human rights are at a high risk, as well as world-renowned researchers from disciplines ranging from law to psychology who present their innovative approaches to understanding how genocides occur and how they can be prevented. The aim is to empower participants with the tools to act and strive to put them in a position where they are able to decipher precursors of genocide, determine the extent to which their region is at risk, and what measures they can take.
The seminars take place at the site of the former German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland, a location that bears strong symbolic value for the topic and allows participants to immerse themselves both emotionally and intellectually in the topic of genocide. The choice of Auschwitz-Birkenau as the site of the seminars is also indicative of how AIPR conceives its genocide prevention mission: building upon the study of the Holocaust in addressing contemporary issues.
The one-week seminars are only the beginning of the program for the participants. The seminars are followed by a series of activities which include a virtual community to enhance interaction and collaboration and share information. AIPR has also instituted the Raphael Lemkin Advisory Fellows program, which pairs seminar participants with an Advisory Fellow from a government within the Fellow’s region who holds a similar position in their institutional office. Former participants become members of 2PREVENT, the Auschwitz Institute’s network for Lemkin alumni designed to help decision makers learn from and support each other in their daily work on the front lines of prevention.
AIPR also runs other regional and sub-regional programs, including the Latin American Network for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention and the African Network for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention.
In 2010, the Kanzlei Internationaler Verein für Wissenschaft und Kultur started an initiative in the field of teaching the genocide of the Roma. The project aimed at developing didactic materials in the form of case sheets to serve both as teaching material for educators and pupils and as informational material for journalists, opinion-shapers, and politicians. Three major workshops with historical experts in the field of the genocide of the Roma were organized to develop the teaching material “The Fate of the European Roma and Sinti during the Holocaust.” This was published as a first draft version online in English and German in 2011 (www.romasintigenocide.eu).
In order to support teaching about the genocide of the Roma and to further the implementation of these teaching materials, in 2012 Erinnern.at took this project a step further by creating a network of educators and policymakers from across Europe.
The teaching materials developed in 2010/11 were discussed by an international group of educational experts from 13 countries during two meetings. The first meeting was held in Eisenstadt, Austria (8-10 November 2012) in parallel to a conference attended by 150 participants including historians, Roma activists, and teachers from Austria and other European countries. Some of the major challenges identified in teaching about the genocide of the Roma and Sinti were: 1)The lack of basic general knowledge on this topic among teachers; 2) The limitations in teaching time and; 3)The prejudices among teachers and students concerning Roma and Sinti.
In spring 2013 a small editorial group worked with the comments from the first meeting to finalize a revised version of the teaching materials and prepare a teacher’s guide. The website with materials was launched in its finalized version (German and English) early July 2013, with significant pedagogical improvements in the presentation of the materials and the assignments for students. The French version was published in April 2014, and translation into further languages is underway.
During the second implementation meeting, at the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno from 11-12 November 2013, 25 experts from 11 countries shared their experiences in working with the materials and future plans for working with the materials. Experts from Roma NGOs in Poland, Germany, Serbia and the Czech Republic were able to connect the project with other efforts to make the history of the genocide of the Roma and Sinti better known. The participation of international organizations (OSCE/ODIHR, Erionet and TernYpe) and of institutions with international outreach (Yad Vashem, Living History Forum. Erinnern.at, Anne Frank House) gave extra input to future international cooperation in this field.
Drawing on the successful results of these two projects, in 2014 the Milan Šimečka Foundation (Slovakia) initiated a network for educational, remembrance and research activities in central European countries to advance the awareness and research on the genocide of the Roma in this region. Two partner meetings in 2014/15 and an international conference in 2016 will be held for researchers, educators and policymakers who have expertise on the genocide of the Roma. The participants will exchange their research results and discuss the translation of the existing teaching materials in seven other languages (Slovak, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Romanian, Croatian, and Romani).
During 2012, the Swedish Government commemorated Raoul Wallenberg’s centenary by honoring his memory with various events and activities. Several of these activities were conducted by The Living History Forum.
On October 18-19 2012 The Living History Forum arranged an international conference in Stockholm dealing with current research about Raoul Wallenberg and how he has been presented throughout the past 67 years. The conference focused on the historiography on Raoul Wallenberg's deeds in Budapest during July 1944 until January 1945 and what happened to him after January 1945. Another theme that the conference dealt with was the representation of Raoul Wallenberg in art and education.
The conference was targeted towards scholars, diplomats, educators and decision makers with missions in connection with these areas as well as people involved in culture and education. The 300 participants were all personally invited based on their expertise in these fields and participated in lectures and panel discussions. The Wallenberg family was also present.
George Soros was the keynote speaker, and other presenters included the Swedish Speaker of Parliament, Minister of Culture, Minister of Integration, and IHRA’s 2012 Belgian Chair Ambassador Jan Deboutte. Selected remarks can be viewed here.
The actions of Raoul Wallenberg were used as a starting point for activities where young people could discuss questions such as: who is a bystander? What is personal responsibility? Who is a hero?
The Raoul Wallenberg conference inspired The Living History Forum to conduct many more initiatives on the issue, such as the publication of a “Hero’s Calendar” with the stories of 365 heroes and the subsequent daily broadcast on the Swedish national radio channel of theater programs based on the stories of these heroes.
The Lithuanian Holocaust Atlas project was initiated in 2010 and carried out by the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum and the Austrian organization Gedenkdienst. The primary aim was to collect, organize, and present information about the mass murders of Jews that took place in Lithuania. Previously, this information was either divided between different publications or remained in archives. The main result of the project is the website http://www.holocaustatlas.lt and the publication of the Lithuanian Holocaust Atlas book in English and Lithuanian.
Jews settled and spread throughout the ethnic Lithuanian territory around the second half of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century. Jews became residents of nearly every Lithuanian town and their culture, traditions, and language became part of the country’s everyday life. Between the two world wars there were approximately 200,000 Jews living in Lithuania. During World War II, Lithuania lost more than 90 per cent of its Jewish citizens. Most of them were killed near the places they lived their entire lives. The Holocaust Atlas tries to show the extent and location of the mass killings that took place between 1941 and 1944.
The mass murder sites are shown on a map with precise geographical coordinates. The Atlas provides historical information on the mass executions as well as the address, date, number of victims, perpetrators, directions to the sites, and information on existing monuments.
The Lithuanian Holocaust Atlas was presented to a number of historians, scholars, and teachers and was distributed in schools, where it was part of lectures and workshops held across Lithuania.
The overarching goal of the project was to preserve living historical memory and to make it more accessible and comprehensible to encourage mutual understanding and respect.
Messaging to Remember is a project designed to engage students directly in the development of Holocaust and genocide education for the 21st century. Today’s teenagers are the first generation to have grown up in the digital age, and educators are faced with the challenge of adapting to the changing needs and demands of this pioneer generation, along with the responsibility for developing suitable educational tools and compelling teaching materials. A collaborative effort between New York University in the United States and the Mauthausen Memorial in Austria, the project drew on the opinions, reactions, and ideas of 480 students (ages 17-21) across two countries through an online, multi-media exhibit and corresponding survey, with the aim to provide a unique, interactive learning experience and include the emerging “digital generation.”
Another primary goal of Messaging to Remember was to better understand the use of technology by established Holocaust educational institutions and memorial sites. Given that almost all museums and many sites have curated, interactive websites, it is important to gather information on the effectiveness of students using online materials and visiting online “exhibitions.” Is this experience as informative and/or effective as a physical visit? Should more attention be paid to these online exhibits, or are physical visits students’ preference?
The Messaging to Remember online exhibit and survey were created and administered using state-of-the-art survey software that enabled the incorporation of picture, audio, and video files, offered various visualizations for different types of questions, and allowed the survey to run on mobile devices.
The results of the survey can be viewed here. One of the most significant results of the survey was the gap between the students’ interest in digital resources and their poor usage of Holocaust and genocide-specific sites. The resulting recommendation was that Holocaust and genocide institutions, in cooperation with political representatives in the field of education, should critically examine their websites and digital offerings with a specific perspective to reaching young audiences.
Taking as its starting point populist antisemitic politics and the special role of conspiracy theories in the political cultures of Hungary, Slovakia and Poland, the Political Capital Institute sought to research and raise public awareness about conspiracy theories and to elaborate a pilot educational program to combat antisemitic conspiracy theories present in current political cultures. The project later expanded through the Open Society Initiative to include France and Norway in the research and education process.
The project consisted of three primary steps:
The Political Capital Institute released its data analysis and report on the prevalence and functions of conspiracy theories and organized three conferences in Hungary to present the results. The policy recommendations for tackling extremism and antisemitism gained considerable attention among journalists, experts, and politicians.
The Political Capital Institute also published an analysis entitled "Seven Statements about the Nature of Antisemitism in Hungary," which is a brief report based on research and survey results.
The project helped the Political Capital Institute to participate in the Radicalization Awareness Network, an umbrella organization working for the European Commission to collect best practices and elaborate policy solutions for the growing threat of right-wing radicalization.
The concept of a series of three seminars organized by the London Jewish Cultural Centre was to examine the nature of racial prejudice in Central and Eastern Europe and the role of the media in addressing it. Journalists from a number of European countries, media representatives, politicians, academics, and others from the UK were brought together to debate issues including antisemitism, Holocaust denial, anti-Roma attitudes, media regulation, and political partisanship of journalists and news organizations.
Amongst the seminar speakers in London were a former Foreign Office minister, the former editor of the Independent newspaper Simon Kelner, the columnist Jonathan Freedland, and filmmakers Rex Bloomstein and Nick Fraser. At the third seminar in Budapest there were presentations from an MEP and by leading Hungarian academics.
The context of the seminars was that journalists and the media are both opinion-formers and opinion-reflectors – what role can or should they play in combating historical and modern forms of antisemitism and racism?
For many participants, the type of discussions they had at the seminar was a new experience. They were not used to discussing practices of reporting with others or analyzing the language or style they used. Many of the journalists expressed the view that the seminar afforded a rare or unique opportunity to discuss the attitudes and pressures of their own news rooms away from those environments. The journalists openly debated bias and political pressures in the media environment.
The seminars created an international network of journalists throughout Europe with an increased awareness about the Holocaust and its causes as well as the role of the media in portraying related issues such as antisemitism.
Following the project, the Minister of State commented in the UK Parliament on the initiative and the UK’s commitment in combating all forms of discrimination.