Recommendations & Guidelines

IHRA Reflections on Terminology for Holocaust Comparison

Words matter.

When we seek to compare the Holocaust with other events in which mass atrocity crimes (genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes) were committed, we engage with comparative approaches. When we strive to shed light on aspects that intersect or parallel one another, our choice of terms can communicate respect and bring clarity, or they can offend and distort. In comparative approaches, we strive neither to obscure the distinct features of the Holocaust nor different mass atrocity crimes. We can demonstrate contrasts between events.

The questions for reflection in this resource can help policymakers, educators, museums, memorial organizations, and journalists adopt good practice and make responsible choices in terminology when making comparisons between the Holocaust and other mass atrocities that:

  • Avoid Holocaust distortion 
  • Build critical thinking skills 
  • Enhance understanding of the Holocaust and other mass atrocities 

This resource neither encourages nor discourages comparative approaches. The Holocaust can be taught without using comparisons; many in the field do so successfully. Rather, this resource offers a guiding framework for those who use or respond to comparative approaches.

This resource covers:

  1. New practices in Holocaust comparison
  2. New popularization of terms
  3. New audiences
  4. Relevant resources and references
Download resource in English

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