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AIPR Co-Organizes Raoul Wallenberg Seminar for Advanced Holocaust Education

The Raoul Wallenberg Seminar for Advanced Holocaust Education brought government officials from ministries of education and culture to the site of the former German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oświęcim, Poland, for education and training by the field’s leading scholars and practitioners in Holocaust memorialization and education and their importance to the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities. AIPR, in partnership with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, and with financial support from the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research (ITF) and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, held the Raoul Wallenberg Seminar for Advanced Holocaust Education from November 3 to November 8, 2008, in Oświęcim, Poland.

Raoul Wallenberg (August 4, 1912 – July 17, 1947) was a Swedish humanitarian who worked in Budapest during World War II to rescue Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust. From July to December 1944, he saved tens of thousands of lives by issuing protective passports and providing housing for Jews. Wallenberg has had streets and monuments named after him throughout the world, and was made an honorary citizen of Canada, Hungary, Israel, and the United States.

Raoul Wallenberg Seminar, November 3–8, 2008

Goals

  • To reflect on current approaches to Holocaust education and memorialization.
  • To exchange best practices based on participant countries’ current programs.
  • To encourage collaborative action among participants.
  • To foster an understanding of the responsibility of states to memorialize and educate on the Holocaust and to open their memorialization programs to activism related to current genocides.
  • To form a working-group team that will follow up and remain in contact.

Curriculum

The curriculum of the course complied with educational guidelines of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research (ITF).

The four pillars of the curriculum were as follows:

  1. To advance participants’ knowledge of the general history of the Holocaust and challenge the lack of information and misconceptions about the Holocaust;
  2. To develop an in-depth understanding of the role of government officials during the Holocaust, in particular examining the loss of a society’s commitment to democratic values and how this contributed to an environment in which genocide could occur;
  3. To increase awareness of the genocidal process by studying other genocides while building on developments in the field of comparative genocide studies, and to enhance participants’ sensitivity to prejudice, racism, and anti-Semitism in public policy and the ramifications of them
  4. To achieve a greater understanding of current policy mechanisms of response specific to participants’ ministries, and examine how the latest methods of genocide risk evaluation and early warning may improve these mechanisms.

Instructors

The Wallenberg Seminar, designed in cooperation with the staff of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, offered an innovative combination of interactive tours, presentations of Holocaust memorialization programs from each country attending, and lectures by leading experts in Holocaust memorialization and education. Using Auschwitz as a central motif, instructors focused on trends during the Holocaust, as well as recurring themes in memorialization, in order to introduce and address key challenges in Holocaust education and memorialization today. Instruction topics were as follows:

“Jews in Contemporary European Memories: The Sociology of Anti-Semitism,” lecture and discussion by Prof. Slawomir Kapralski, Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities

“Coming Out of Amnesia in Europe: The Holocaust in Philosophy, Nonformal Education, and Art,” lecture and discussion by Dr. Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs, Center for Holocaust Studies, Jagiellonian University

“Polish Collective Memory of the Holocaust,” lecture and discussion by
Dr. Annamaria Orla-Bukowska, Institute of Sociology, Jagiellonian University

“The Relevance of Holocaust Studies Today,” lecture and discussion by
Prof. Michael Berenbaum, American Jewish University

“Structures of Memory: Auschwitz and the Holocaust in Literature,” lecture and discussion by
Alicja Bialecka, ICEAH, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

“The Art of Commemoration,” lecture and discussion by
Teresa Swiebocka, deputy director, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

“Representations of Auschwitz,” lecture and discussion by
Prof. Marek Kucia, Institute of Sociology, Jagiellonian University

“Auschwitz and the Holocaust in Films: Educational Implications,” lecture by
Dr. Piotr Trojanski, Institute of History, Pedagogical University of Krakow

“Auschwitz as a Concentration Camp and a Center of Genocide of European Jewry,” opening lecture and discussion by
Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz, Historical Department, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Participants

Lemkin Seminars bring together policymakers and NGO activists — identified through their ambassador to the United Nations or their government’s executive branch — who have demonstrated the following characteristics:

  • intellectual capacity;
  • leadership skills; and,
  • passion for the subjects of human rights and rule of law.

The Wallenberg Seminar assembled 21 participants from 13 countries: Argentina, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia, Croatia, Cyprus, Hungary, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, and the United States, including:

  1. Rauf Pashayev, Azerbaijan
  2. Wouter Brauns, Flemish community, Belgium
  3. Nico Wouters, Flemish community, Belgium
  4. Karina Chabowska, Poland
  5. Alberto Sileoni, Argentina
  6. Federico Lorenz, Argentina
  7. Christoph Bazil, Austria
  8. Ildiko Laszak, Hungary
  9. Mihaly Riszovannij, Hungary
  10. Morgan Blum, United States
  11. Drazen Visnjic, Republika Srpska/Bosnia
  12. Dusan Pavlovic, Republika Srpska/Bosnia
  13. Ana Barbulescu, Romania
  14. Laura Degeratu, Romania
  15. Rajka Bucin, Croatia
  16. Kristijan Gotic, Croatia
  17. Nathalie Nyst, French community, Belgium
  18. Milenko Djuricic, Serbia
  19. Ivan Manojlovic, Serbia
  20. Rahamin Mizrahi, Macedonia
  21. Yiannis Economides, Cyprus

The Wallenberg Seminar produced a network of scholars committed to enhancing the quality of Holocaust memorialization and education programs developed in their ministries. For more information about the Wallenberg Seminar, contact info@auschwitzinstitute.org.