Berlin virtual Plenary: 5 key things to know

Want a peek at what's on the agenda for the Berlin virtual Plenary meetings that are starting today? We have listed the top five items that you need to know about, from world premieres to important news about the work of the IHRA. And don't forget to follow the IHRA on social media @TheIHRA, and see what the delegates are up to with #IHRAfromBerlin

 

1. First virtual IHRA meetings

For the first time in the history of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the Plenary meetings will take place entirely online. Just as the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has seriously affected societies and individuals around the world, it has inevitably changed the way the IHRA works. Even though this presents a new set of challenges to delegates and organizers alike, there are also benefits. For instance, the welcome message from the German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, has been recorded and is now accessible to everyone, whether you are a delegate at the Berlin Plenary or not.

2. Good news about the educational recommendations

The updated IHRA Recommendations for Teaching and Learning about the Holocaust that were launched in December have had a very successful first six months. Presented at several conferences and seminars, the Recommendations are currently being translated into the languages spoken in the IHRA Member Countries. Already, they are available in Croatian, English, and German – and many more versions are right around the corner. Keep an eye on the IHRA website over the coming half year to find the Recommendations published in your language.

3. Opera world premiere

As part of the evening program, delegates at the Berlin Plenary are invited to an exclusive virtual premiere of two chamber operas about the Genocide of the Roma. Rromano Kidipe, composed by Adrian Gaspar, combines scenes of paintings by Roma survivor Karl Stokja with the poetry of Papusza, a well-known Roma poet and survivor. The second work, Wier schemen unz, shows an excerpt from the full-length opera dealing with the life and art of Roma survivor Ceija Stokja, ending with a Kaddish for the murdered Roma, sung together with “Djelem, Djelem,” the Roma anthem.

Rromano Kidipe & Wier schemen unz are now available to watch online.

4. Grant recipients for 2020

As always, a key point on the agenda for the IHRA Plenary is the presentation of the new IHRA grant recipients. In order to support its focus on countering distortion and safeguarding the record of the Holocaust, the IHRA provides funding to a number of outstanding projects every year. This year, the grant winning projects will focus on countering Holocaust distortion on social media, teacher training on how to confront antisemitism and Holocaust distortion, inspiring critical memory discourses in Southeast Asia, and more. Read more about all seven projects, and be inspired to apply for an IHRA grant.

5. On track: Global Task Force

The Global Task Force Against Holocaust Denial and Distortion was first announced in January by Minister Maas, and its work is now – despite working entirely online – well underway. Pursuing a key priority of the current German Presidency of the IHRA, the Global Task Force brings together experts and decision-makers from civil society and governmental bodies to identify and share the most efficient tools in the fight against Holocaust denial and distortion. In doing so, the Global Task Force closely follows the commitment made on 19 January in the 2020 IHRA Ministerial Declaration, “to continue working together to counter Holocaust denial and distortion, antisemitism, and all forms of racism and discrimination that undermine fundamental democratic principles.”

 

The first of two semiannual Plenary meetings hosted by the German Presidency of the IHRA will begin today, 29 June, and continue through 2 July. The virtual meetings will bring together over 250 delegates from a network of policymakers and Holocaust experts from more than 40 countries to discuss efforts in the field of Holocaust education, remembrance, and research.

The IHRA Presidency handover ceremony from Luxembourg to Germany, at the Berlin House of Representatives in March. Minister of State, Michael Roth, speaks (Credit: Thomas Köhler)