"The Holocaust, like any event, was not inevitable. It was the result of choices made. So how do we unpack and understand that?" asked Jennifer Ciardelli of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum at this week's Trans-Atlantic webinar on Holocaust Education, hosted by the United States State Department.
This event, "Policy and Practice: Trans-Atlantic Avenues for Holocaust Education", held on 19 November, discussed in detail the IHRA Recommendations on Teaching and Learning about the Holocaust. Specifically, it looked at how the recommendations were developed, and how government officials and Holocaust educators can make use of them to continue the important task of spreading understanding about the Holocaust in the face of rising antisemitism.
Learning in a digital context — challenges and opportunities
"It’s not just about the history. It’s about the future," said Cherrie Daniels, Head of the United States delegation to the IHRA, who hosted the event in her capacity as State Envoy on Holocaust Issues. Discussing the urgency of Holocaust education, she said, "it’s our responsibility to do more individually and collectively to raise Holocaust awareness and really promote deeper understanding that will affect our future."
Also taking part in the panel was IHRA Chair Ambassador Michaela Küchler, who spoke about the pressures that teachers have found themselves under during the pandemic. She mentioned that despite the challenges posed by teaching and learning in a digital context, there are also opportunities, such as the wide reach that events like this can have.
Chair of the IHRA Education Working Group, Zuzana Pavlovska, discussed the importance of integrating local context when teaching about the Holocaust – for instance by using testimony from local survivors – in order to accurately deal with each country's unique relationship to this difficult history. She also stressed the importance of studying the period prior to the Nazi regime and the Second World War, so that learners are able to see "the person not just as a victim, but as someone with a normal life."
Watch the panel
The entire panel is available to watch now: U.S. Department of State Hosts Trans-Atlantic Webinar on Holocaust Education
This event was the first part in a two-part series. The second webinar, which will take place in February, will be aimed at education practitioners, at secondary and college level.
The IHRA Recommendations have now been translated into seven languages. Find out more, or read excerpts at IHRA Recommendations on Teaching and Learning about the Holocaust.