A year of horrific crimes and renewed hope


The year 2019 was marred by highly worrying levels of antisemitism and antigypsyism, incidents of vandalism, and not least violent and deadly attacks against Jews, Roma, and Sinti across the world. In times such as these, we mourn the victims of these horrific crimes and we resolve to carry on our work for a world that remembers the Holocaust and for a world without genocide.

The international community has shown that it will not shy away from its responsibility to combat antisemitism, antigypsyism, and other forms of racism and discrimination. Over the course of the past year, more countries – and most recently, football clubs with millions of supporters – have adopted the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism.

In addition, our Recommendations for Teaching and Learning about the Holocaust were presented and adopted in Luxembourg City. These recommendations represent a tangible result of the combined efforts of experts from the many countries that make up the IHRA. Published in partnership with UNESCO, the recommendations will help teachers and educators, administrators, and policymakers develop knowledge about the Holocaust, create engaging teaching environments, promote critical and reflective thinking, and contribute to human rights and genocide prevention education. I am therefore more than pleased to see the enthusiasm with which the recommendations have been received by all Member Countries.

Kathrin Meyer edited

Finally, I take immense pride and satisfaction in the ability of our community to come together in consensus and adopt the 2020 Ministerial Declaration under the Luxembourg Chairmanship. The fact that 35 countries – many represented by ministers – met in Brussels on 19 January to adopt this powerful message is testament to our shared commitment and united efforts to remember the Holocaust and to fight antisemitism. As IHRA Honorary Chairman Professor Yehuda Bauer said, “there is hope in that statement … [it] is a pledge that you will be asked to fulfill in the future.”

The importance of this pledge cannot be overstated.

Signature KathrinDr. Kathrin MeyerIHRA Executive Secretary


  1. Credit: IHRA

    23 January 2019

    The 2018 IHRA Chair, Sandro De Bernardin, releases a statement in observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the liberation of Auschwitz on 27 January. He acknowledged that, "An accurate and nuanced understanding of the causes and consequences of the Holocaust are essential if we are to ensure such horrors are not repeated."

    23 January 2019
  2. IHRA Chair Ambassador Sandro De Bernardin. Credit: UN Photo

    28 January 2019

    Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, 2018 IHRA Chair Ambassador Sandro De Bernardin states: "The first human right to be protected is the right to memory. Therefore, the defence of human rights should start with the safeguarding of the record and the countering of distortion. Human rights are a public good and, as such, the property of all. A public good is indivisible: so, it cannot be denied to anybody, neither an individual nor a given group."

    28 January, 2019
  3. Buildings at the Fossoli concentration camp in Fossoli, Italy. Credit: Marco Caselli Nirmal

    1 February 2019

    The project Safeguarding Sites: the IHRA Charter for best practice is initiated. Over the next five years, this project aims to create guidelines for safeguarding authentic Holocaust sites - for adoption by all IHRA Member Countries - and to have these guidelines incorporated into national cultural heritage legislation.

    1 February, 2019
  4. IHRA Chair Ambassador Georges Santer. Credit: Neimënster

    1 February 2019

    Incoming IHRA Chair, Ambassador Georges Santer, speaks at inauguration of the USHMM exhibition “State of Deception – The Power of Nazi Propaganda" at the Neumünster Abbey Cultural Exchange Center (Neimënster) in Luxembourg City.

    1 February, 2019
  5. Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission. Credit: European Parliament

    7 February 2019

    The Incoming IHRA Chair, Ambassador Georges Santer, attends the forum “The fight against antisemitism: a common approach to better protect Jewish communities in Europe - from policy to action” at the European Parliament in Brussels. Ambassador Santer stated, "The challenges we are facing are enormous. We need to get our acts together because the stakes are high and thus we have to federate our efforts. We are ready to strengthen our ties with our Permanent International Partners and other important players."

    07 February 2019
  6. Incoming IHRA Chair, Ambassador Georges Santer.

    5 March 2019

    Ambassador Georges Santer takes over the Chairmanship of the IHRA from outgoing Chair Ambassador Sandro De Bernardin of Italy. The handover takes place at the Embassy of Luxembourg in Berlin, and is attended by members of the diplomatic corps representing the IHRA’s Member Countries. Dr. Juliane Wetzel and Dr. Brigitte Bailer present the IHRA publication Mass Murder of People with Disabilities and the Holocaust.

    5 March 2019
  7. IHRA Chair, Ambassador Georges Santer. Credit: Oliver Acev

    19 March 2019

    IHRA Chair, Georges Santer, speaks at the commemoration to mark the deportation of Jews held in Republic of North Macedonia in 1943, noting his appreciation for the attention given to education and remembrance in the country. "The Holocaust is certainly the biggest downfall of humanity," Ambassador Santer said, "however it should not be seen only as the cataclysm having happened eighty years ago. In times of rising antisemitism especially also in the Western World, the Holocaust is an issue of contemporary political importance."

    19 March, 2019
  8. IHRA teacher workshop in Berlin. Credit: IHRA

    25 March 2019

    The IHRA Permanent Office hosts a workshop as part of the project to safeguard the historical record by promoting the use of fact-based, educationally sound approaches for teaching and learning about the Holocaust in both formal and informal settings. The project would eventually lead to the publication of the IHRA Recommendations for Teaching and Learning about the Holocaust.

    March 25-26, 2019
  9. Credit: AJR

    15-16 April 2019

    Head of the UK Delegation to the IHRA and UK Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues, Lord Eric Pickles, and the Association of Jewish Refugees co-host Remembering & Rethinking: The international forum on the Kindertransport at 80.

    April 15-16, 2019
  10. Credit: IHRA

    29 April 2019

    "With humanity still scarred by genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, antisemitism and xenophobia, the international community shares a solemn responsibility to fight those evils," says IHRA Chair, Georges Santer, in a statement on the Shooting at Chabad of Poway Synagogue, San Diego.

    29 April, 2019
  11. Ambassador Santer, Katharina von Schnurbein, and Mark David Cole. Credit: European Union, 2019

    18 May 2019

    The IHRA Chair, Georges Santer, takes part in the Citizen Dialogue: Forgetting – A Threat to Peace in Europe? with Katharina von Schnurbein, European Commission Coordinator on Combatting Antisemitism, organized by the Representation of the European Commission in Luxembourg.

    18 May, 2019
  12. Participants at Safeguarding Sites meeting. Credit: IHRA

    2 June 2019

    The experts of the IHRA project Safeguarding Sites: IHRA Charter for Best Practice meet as part of their work on how best to protect sites associated with the Holocaust and the genocide of the Roma. A cooler “heritage model” rather than an immediate-response “fire-fighting model” is adopted for the project, which will consider a broad range of types of risk.

    June 2, 2019
  13. The Plenary in session in Mondorf-les-Bains. Credit: Martin Korcok

    3-5 June 2019

    One hundred and fifty-eight delegates from all IHRA Member Countries, Liaison and Observer Countries, and Permanent International Partners meet in Mondorf-les-Bains, Luxembourg for the first bi-annual Plenary meetings of the year.

    June 3 - 5, 2019
  14. IHRA Chair Georges Santer speaking in Bucharest. Credit: AGERPRES FOTO / Radu Tuță

    17 June 2019

    IHRA Chair, Georges Santer, gives an address at a high-level event organized by the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU. Ambassador Santer reminded the audience that the "fight against antisemitism is thus not just a fight for the rights of our Jewish citizens and compatriots; it is a fight for our societies as a whole."

    June 18, 2019
  15. Left to right: Oliver von Mengersen, Romani Rose, Georges Santer, Jacques Delfeld, and Romain Butti. Credit: Dokumentationszentrum

    8 July 2019

    Ambassador Georges Santer, IHRA delegate Oliver von Mengersen and others visit the “Dokumentations- und Kulturzentrum Deutscher Sinti und Roma” in Heidelberg. The visit included discussions of the preservation of sites, the mission of IHRA and its achievements, and the general situation of the Roma communities in Europe.

    July 8, 2019
  16. Parliament of Luxembourg. Credit: Cayambe [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

    10 July 2019

    The Parliament of Luxembourg adopts a resolution calling upon the Government to adopt the IHRA Working Definition on Antisemitism.

    July 10, 2019
  17. IHRA Delegates visit Alderney in the Channel Islands. Credit: Alderney Press.

    12 July 2019

    An IHRA expert delegation visits Alderney, a part of the Balliwick of Guernsey in the Channel Islands, as part of the IHRA project Safeguarding Sites. The island has been chosen as the first case study of the project, and the delegation makes a preliminary observation and assessment of the island's Holocaust and Holocaust-related heritage sites.

    July 12, 2019
  18. Partcipants in the workshop. Credit: IHRA

    29-30 July 2019

    As part of its project on the topic of Memory laws under its five-year priority theme ‘Countering Holocaust Distortion and Safeguarding the Record,’ the IHRA hosts an expert workshop. The workshop brought together renowned international experts to discuss the status, efficacy, and impact of memory laws, as well as research on them to date.

    July 29-30, 2019
  19. Ambassador Georges Santer, IHRA Chair, and Luxembourg's Ambassador to Poland, Conrad Bruch, visit the exhibition on the genocide of the Roma and Sinti at the Auschwitz Memorial State Museum. Credit: IHRA

    2 August 2019

    The commemoration ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the extermination of the Roma and Sinti in the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau takes place. The IHRA Chair, Georges Santer, is in attendance and addresses the audience: "Paying tribute to the victims and honouring them, notably in commemoration events like this, are the responsibility of the whole of our societies, not only of the victim groups directly concerned."

    August 2, 2019
  20. "Recording Cultural Genocide and Killing Sites," a grant project from 2016, used laser scans to virtually recreate destroyed artifacts. Credit: S.D. Reece.

    20 August 2019

    Ten new projects receive funding from the IHRA Grant Program. Every year the IHRA sends out a call for grant applications from new projects. In 2019, the IHRA grants supported such diverse projects as academic conferences, monitoring and reporting of antisemitism and distortion, policy training of government officials, and more.

    August 20, 2019
  21. Christian Wee, Dr. Milan Koljanin, Ambassador Santer, Martina Maschke. Credit: IHRA

    9 September 2019

    IHRA Chair, Georges Santer, and a delegation consisting of Lennart Aldick (IHRA Deputy Executive Secretary), Christian Wee (Chair of IHRA’s Memorials and Museums Working Group) and Martina Maschke (former Chair of IHRA’s Committee on the Genocide of the Roma) visit Belgrade to see and discuss the sites of Staro Sajmište and Topovske Šupe.

    September 9, 2019
  22. Credit: Bundesministerium des Innern.

    16 September 2019

    The Institute Pierre Werner hosts a discussion on modern forms of antisemitism in Luxembourg with Dr. Felix Klein, Commissioner of the Federal Government for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against Antisemitism, in cooperation with the Luxembourg Chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany.

    September 16, 2019
  23. IHRA delegates visit Alderney in the Channel Islands. Credit: Alderney Press

    25-28 September 2019

    The Safeguarding Sites project organizes a workshop at the University of Cambridge in collaboration with DAAD-Cambridge. Immediately following the workshop, a delegation of IHRA experts pay a second visit to the island of Alderney as part of the five-year IHRA project that will include visits to five different sites related to the Holocaust and the genocide of the Roma, with the aim of drawing upon findings to help create heritage guidelines for best practice.

    September 25-28, 2019
  24. Credit: IHRA

    10 October 2019

    Expressing his deep shock, IHRA Chair, Georges Santer, releases a statement on the attack on a synagogue in Halle. "We are not just calling on political, social and religious leaders to counter hate crimes and acts of violence and incitement," Ambassador Santer said, "but urge all members of society to stand together in order to ensure that we can all live in security and peace and ultimately stop the rise of antisemitism."

    October 10, 2019
  25. Recent photo capturing the current state of the buildings. Credit: Center for Public History

    1 November 2019

    A project for the preservation of the Topovske Šupe camp site is launched in Belgrade, relying partly on funds by the IHRA to conduct research in order to permanently preserve the memory of the concentration camp and its victims.

    November 1, 2019
  26. 8 November 2019

    IHRA Chair, Georges Santer, releases a statement on the threats against Liliana Segre. On the same day, the Prime Minister of Greece, His Excellency Kyriakos Mitsotakis, announces that Greece will be the first country to adopt both IHRA Working Definitions on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial and Distortion.

    November 8, 2019
  27. Portugal is welcomed as an IHRA Member Country and North Macedonia as a Liaision Country. Credit: Charles Caratini

    2-5 December 2019

    The second bi-annual IHRA Plenary meetings take place in Luxembourg City. New Recommendations for Teaching and Learning about the Holocaust are adopted, Portugal becomes a Member Country and North Macedonia a Liaison Country, and the IHRA 2020 Ministerial Declaration is endorsed by the Plenary.

    December 2, 2019
  28. Credit: IHRA

    12 December 2019

    IHRA Chair, Georges Santer, releases a statement on the shooting in New Jersey, expressing his "sincere condolences to the families and friends of those murdered in the attack, as well as its survivors, and the whole Jewish community across New Jersey."

    December 12, 2019
  29. Credit: IHRA

    30 December 2019

    IHRA Executive Secretary, Dr. Kathrin Meyer, releases a statement on the knife attack in New York State. "A Rockland County legislator said the Jewish community was 'scared but not surprised' by this latest abhorrent incident, which is a frightening indication of the growing number of antisemitic threats and attacks we are seeing throughout the United States and beyond," Dr. Meyer stated.

    December 30, 2019
  30. IHRA Executive Secretary Dr Kathrin Meyer, alongside (from the left) Chairman Bruce Buck, Lord John Mann, and Frank Lampard. Credit: Chelsea FC

    17 January 2020

    The Chelsea Football Club adopts the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism at a press conference attended by IHRA Executive Secretary, Dr. Kathrin Meyer. During the press conference, Dr. Meyer said, “Football is such a critical part of communities around the world, bringing hundreds of millions of people together. Given the significance of football, it is vital that clubs like Chelsea, that are a role model for so many, demonstrate their commitment to fighting antisemitism so that football continues to be a source of enjoyment and pride, not exclusion and hatred.” Other football clubs have since followed the example of Chelsea FC.

    January 17, 2020
  31. 2020 ministerial meeting in the Residence Palace, Brussels. Credit: IHRA

    19 January 2020

    Ministers and representatives of the IHRA's 34 Member Countries and one Liaison Country adopt the 2020 Ministerial Declaration, reiterating their commitment to Holocaust education, remembrance, and research. IHRA Honorary Chairman Prof. Yehuda Bauer applauds the declaration, and reminds the participants that "you and your societies and your countries will be held responsible for following it up. And that won't be easy."

    January 19, 2020
  32. Commemorative event in Tallinn. Credit: Estonian Ministry of Education and Research

    27 January 2020

    On the day of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, International Holocaust Remembrance Day is commemorated around the world. The IHRA Chair, Georges Santer, attends the commemoration in Auschwitz-Birkenau, and, notably, an apology is issued by the Prime Minister of the Netherlands for the failure of the country to save the more than 100,000 Dutch Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.

    January 27, 2020
  33. Ambassador Santer addresses the Permanent Council. Credit: OSCE

    30 January 2020

    IHRA Chair, Georges Santer, addresses the OSCE Permanent Council at its meeting in Vienna. Underscoring the importance of dealing openly with the past of the Holocaust, Ambassador Santer made the point that "[n]o country, including my own, can claim to have found a flawless and perfectly self-reflected way of dealing with the past. But governments and administrations carry a special responsibility to counter distortion of the past, the Holocaust and related crimes. That includes particularly our own national roles or the past roles of our societies during that dark part of our common history."

    January 30, 2020


Decisions and Highlights

  • Highlight

    "Although the past year brought several great strides forward, there is no question that the 2020 Ministerial Declaration was the highlight of the Luxembourg Chairmanship. It is no less than a tremendous achievement for our organization that 35 countries could agree to come together and unanimously adopt such a strong statement against antisemitism and antigypsyism and for a world that remembers the Holocaust.
    This declaration will keep governments accountable to the promises made in it and will guide our work for years to come. My heartfelt thanks go out to all who helped in its creation."

    GEORGES SANTER, IHRA CHAIRCredit: Charles Caratini
  • Highlight

    "For me, 2019 can be summed up in one word: change. The IHRA is an organization that is able to respond to changes in the world and to strive for efficiency and sustainability in achieving its goals. The organization relies on intersectional collaboration in the Working Groups and Committees and enables each delegate to make the most of their strengths. The IHRA is also very democratic, and for Bulgaria, becoming a full Member Country has been a very inclusive process. These democratic values are increasingly important, as the IHRA brings education to the fore with the new recommendations."

  • Highlight

    "The IHRA gives countries a sense of community and opens doors for specialists by providing access to knowledge, contacts, and opportunities to work with leading experts. Together, we can work to remember the victims and to ensure that the tragic events of the Holocaust never repeat. As the new chair of the Committee on the Genocide of the Roma, I find it important to commemorate all victims and not to forget the suffering of the Roma. I consider a definition of antigypsyism to be a great challenge in light of the discrimination that continues to be inflicted on many members of the Roma community even today."

  • Decision: Membership Application

    The Plenary accepted Australia's application for IHRA membership.- MONDORF-LES-BAINS PLENARY, 4 JUNE 2019

  • Highlight

    "My major concern was the design of the international archival and educational project "Mapping the Genocide of the Roma in Hungary," which was awarded the Yehuda Bauer Grant. This project aims for the inclu-sion of the history of the Roma into national historiography, public discourse and comme-moration. I believe tendencies of nationalist exclusionism throughout Europe make this endeavour very timely. The present political and social climate underlines the importance of transnational cooperation, and I am grateful to my colleagues in the IHRA for taking on active roles in the project. It would not have been possible without them."

  • Highlight

    "Accompanying the Chair to Serbia and Croatia to discuss the sites at Staro Sajmište, Topovske Šupe, and Jasenovac with political stakeholders and experts was a highlight. It shows that continuous involvement of IHRA experts in combination with a certain encou-ragement from the political level can achieve great things. We have already seen improve-ments, and I hope to see these sites follow the example of Lety. As former Committee Chair, I am also happy that the report on the gaps in research on the genocide of the Roma is being finished and that we can encourage research that is sorely missing. "

  • Decision: Paper acknowledged

    The Plenary acknowledged the Paper on Holocaust Distortion and Denial.- MONDORF-LES-BAINS PLENARY, 4 JUNE 2019

  • Highlight

    "The most important outcome was without a doubt the Recommendations for Teaching and Learning about the Holocaust. The recommendations are useful, encouraging, and written with more openness towards the fact that different countries have different educational systems. The previous guidelines were great to begin with, but now all members of the Education Working Group can truly say that they gave input. Secondly, Sweden was a reporting country this past year. The feedback was read carefully on the political level, and it is encouraging to see the effect of the IHRA's work."

  • Highlight

    "In September, the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory organized 'The Beginning of the End: Massacre at Klooga 75,' an international conference and commemoration in Tallinn. This was a perfect IHRA event: Our entire delegation was involved, the speakers came from other IHRA delegations, and it was the first time that we applied for and received an IHRA grant. We were so glad to be able to host this meaningful event, and the fact that this conference could take place was thanks to our networking and involvement in the IHRA over the past several years. "

  • Decision: Membership Application

    The Plenary accepted Portugal's application for IHRA membership.- LUXEMBOURG CITY PLENARY, 4 DECEMBER 2019

  • Highlight

    "During the time Greece has been repre-sented by Dr. Efstathios C. Lianos Liantis, the country has made great strides to safeguard the memory of the Holocaust and fight antisemitism. A Special Envoy position has been established, a Holocaust museum is planned in Thessaloniki, educational programs have been launched, and the Prime Minister has announced the adoption of the Working Definitions of both Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial and Distortion - a first in the world. I deeply appreciate the contribution of the IHRA in encouraging Holocaust research, access to archives, and the safeguarding of historical sites."

  • Decision: Liaison Application

    The Plenary accepted North Macedonia's liaison country application.- LUXEMBOURG CITY PLENARY, 4 DECEMBER 2019

  • Highlight

    "The ministerial declaration that we have adopted in Brussels is especially important for the IHRA. Therefore it was critical to agree on a meaningful text that truly resonated. As a career diplomat with extensive experience in multilateral diplomacy, the complexity of the drafting process, the need to accomodate the views of all concerned, and above all the importance of clear, accurate language are not unknown to me! Although I have been the Head of the Irish Delegation to the IHRA for three years, this drafting experience nevertheless provided a fascinating window for understanding more about the organization."

  • Decision: Recommendations adopted

    The Plenary decided to adopt the Recommendations for Teaching and Learning about the Holocaust.- LUXEMBOURG CITY PLENARY, 4 DECEMBER 2019

  • Highlight

    "The new Recommendations for Teaching and Learning about the Holocaust were unquestionably the highlight of the year for us both. So many delegates contributed to the creation of the recommendations, which makes them quite special and a great example of international cooperation. It it also important to say that we did not create something new, but rather took one of IHRA's core documents and improved it. The new recommendations show that the IHRA isn't just about talking and sharing best practices – but is also about finding practical solutions to challenges based in teaching and learning about the Holocaust."

  • Decision: IHRA 2020 Ministerial Declaration

    The Plenary decided to adopt the IHRA 2020 Ministerial Declaration.- BRUSSELS MINISTERIAL MEETING, 19 JANUARY 2020

In Memoriam

The IHRA lost three members of its community in 2019.

Jan Munk was Chairman of the Prague Jewish Community, former Director of the Terezín Memorial and a long-term member of IHRA’s Memorials and Museums Working Group as part of the Czech delegation. It was under his leadership from 1990 to 2017 that the Terezín Memorial evolved into its current form. Jan Munk passed away on 12 May.

Professor Mihai Chioveanu was dedicated to the study of the history of the Holocaust in Romania, both from a political and historical perspective. He was a member of the Romanian delegation to the IHRA from its inception, where he was a member of the Education Working Group. Mihai Chioveanu passed away on 27 May.

Paul Levine was a long-time associate professor of Holocaust history and genocide studies. He spent the last six years in his favorite town, Berlin, as a freelance historian. The author of several books about the Holocaust, Levine was part of the Secretariat of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust that led to creation of the IHRA. Paul Levine passed away on 28 October.

The IHRA offers its deepest condolences to all family, friends, and colleagues.

From the top: Jan Munk, Mihai Chiovenau, and Paul Levine. Photo credit: Radim Nytl (Památník Terezín).

Coming up



Chairmanship Handover to Germany, 3 March


Safeguarding Sites workshop and site visit to Mauthausen/Gusen, first week of September


Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism, 26-27 October


First bi-annual Plenary Meetings under the German Chairmanship in Berlin, 29 June - 2 July


Call for IHRA Grant Applications opens, 15 September


Second bi-annual Plenary Meetings under the German Chairmanship in Leipzig, 30 November - 3 December

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