A new training for teachers and policymakers on countering Holocaust distortion and combating antisemitism was implemented for the first time this week in Zagreb.

Developed by the IHRA and UNESCO, the Capacity Building Training program aims to provide teacher trainers and policymakers with practical tools and strategies for countering these contemporary challenges. This inaugural training, taking place from 26 – 27 September 2023, was hosted by the Croatian Presidency of the IHRA.

The keynote address was given by Minister Radovan Fuchs, Minister of Science and Education of the Republic of Croatia, who shared that “it’s our common responsibility to educate, and to raise awareness among the young and older generations alike.”

False or misleading information doesn’t only threaten the memory and understanding of the history of the Holocaust — it also increases the likelihood of people rejecting the principles of human rights and becoming more susceptible to antisemitic tropes and Holocaust denial. As we enter an era when the last Holocaust survivors and witnesses are passing away, accurate and critical understanding of this history and the ways it can be misrepresented are crucial.

“By holding a conversation between generations, we can fortify our efforts, protect the facts from manipulation, and cultivate a collective responsibility to combat hatred and discrimination in the present day,” said IHRA Co-Chair Sara Lustig at the opening reception.

As part of the inaugural training, participants took part in workshops that aimed to develop their understanding of the diverse ways in which Holocaust distortion arises. They also heard from experts on the culture of Holocaust remembrance in Austria, Germany and Croatia and how museums and memorials can best safeguard the historical record.

“The leadership and efforts of school directors and teacher trainers are critical to ensure school classrooms are safe environments, free from prejudice, where young people can develop their critical thinking. This is key if we are to counter disinformation and hate speech,” said Siniša Šešum, Head of the Antenna in Sarajevo of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe.

The Capacity Building Training program will be available online later this year.