IHRA Safeguarding Sites Project visits Auschwitz

Developing a Charter that outlines contemporary threats to sites of the Holocaust and genocide of the Roma, provides guidance on how to mitigate these threats, and reminds governments of their responsibilities to safeguard the record of the Holocaust.

About our work

Launched in 2019, the IHRA’s Safeguarding Sites Project is addressing:

  • The reasons why safeguarding Holocaust-related sites in today’s world is important
  • Contemporary threats that Holocaust-related sites are facing
  • Practical steps governments can take to follow good practice and address the identified risks
  • How local actors can use the Charter as a tool of empowerment to protect local Holocaust-related sites

What we've learned so far

How key learnings have been fed back into our approach

All authentic sites of the Holocaust still standing are now over 75 years old and face challenges.

This means problems of natural decay caused by damp, insects, and vermin are a real threat. Many sites were made predominantly of wood and were not constructed to last for decades. Other sites face deliberate destruction or damage through vandalism, extremist action, or even warfare. To help relevant actors recognize – and mitigate – the risks, we have outlined these threats among others in the Charter.

Holocaust sites are the product of ever-evolving memorialization practices and at times contradictory and contentious memories of the past.

The methodology behind IHRA Charter for Safeguarding Sites addresses the complexities inherent to Holocaust sites. The methodology has three pillars: 1) Comparison with other charters; 2) Advice from practitioners, academics, and other experts; and 3) Real-life practice in the field.

Those protecting sites are diverse and have diverse needs.

Stakeholders range from local activists to local and national governments right up to global stakeholders. We visited nine Holocaust-related sites during the development of the Charter and made sure to understand what the needs of these stakeholders are, drafting the Charter with them in mind.

Many sites have already developed creative ways of addressing such challenges.

We have ensured that these best practices, observed especially during the Project’s site visits, are fed back into the draft Charter and then tested in concrete situations. We have developed a visualization tool to help better explain these challenges and their solutions.

Video: Highlighting Holocaust heritage

Credit: University of Cambridge, Public Engagement and the Cambridge Creative Encounters Project

Learn about risks to sites and their solutions

Hover over the data visualization to explore.

Recent activities

Meet the Project Team and its co-chairs Gilly Carr and Steven Cooke

The Safeguarding Sites project team comprises IHRA delegates who work as academics in the fields of Holocaust heritage and history, as well as those who work for Holocaust museums and memorials, and in governments and international heritage organizations. The team is further advised by IHRA delegates with experience in facilitating good practice at sites of the Holocaust and genocide of the Roma. The project also has external advisors, both academic and practitioner, and representatives from organizations such as UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. It has also organized workshops with prominent directors of memorial museums to scrutinize the draft Charter.

Current members of the project core team are:

Project Chair, Gilly Carr (AWG/UK), Project co-Chair, Steven Cooke (MMWG/Australia), Ljiljana Radonić (MMWG/Austria), Zoltan Toth-Heinemann (MMWG/Hungary), Martin Winstone (EWG/UK), Bruno Boyer (MMWG/France), Ilja Lenskis (AWG/Latvia), Christian Wee (MMWG/Norway), Karel Fracapane (UNESCO), Nevena Bajalica (EWG/Serbia), Paul Hagouel (AWG/Greece), Anna Vratalkova (EWG/Czech Republic), Frank Schroeder (MMWG/Luxembourg).

The IHRA laid the groundwork for continued engagement with this topic by adopting the International Memorial Museums Charter in 2012.

“20 years from now, I hope that the IHRA Charter for Safeguarding Sites will have been widely implemented, and more sites will be safeguarded and rescued from oblivion. Given the IHRA commitments, I feel confident that this will be a reality.”

– Dr Gilly Carr, Chair of the IHRA Safeguarding Sites Project

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