The IHRA’s commitment to education

03.03.2020 - Article

“We share a commitment to encourage the study of the Holocaust in all its dimensions. We will promote education about the Holocaust in our schools and universities, in our communities and encourage it in other institutions.” Article 5 of the Stockholm Declaration

situation at school
situation at school© dpa

On a regular basis, IHRA Working Groups and committees publish educational recommendations aimed at helping IHRA member countries uphold their commitments and implement best practices in this connection. In 2019, the IHRA adopted recommendations for teaching and learning about the Holocaust. These provide both compelling reasons for covering the Holocaust in classroom curricula and practical guidance for seeking out and selecting adequate source material. By making available the latest research, they also help bring curricula up to date.

The recommendations will be made available in more than 20 languages, so that they can be used by teachers and education experts in all member countries. They will serve as a foundation based on which politicians, textbook publishers, those who develop curricula, school administrators and teachers and other education experts can:

  • further develop knowledge about the Holocaust, ensure that learners’ understanding and knowledge is accurate, and generate awareness of the possible consequences of antisemitism;
  • create a more positive learning environment for instruction on the Holocaust;
  • promote nuanced thinking, which also helps in the fight against Holocaust denial and distortion;
  • help educate about human rights and prevention of genocide.

To enable a closer examination of the Holocaust in the classroom, the recommendations propose that discussions centre on four fundamental questions:

  • What were the historical conditions and key stages in the process of this genocide?
  • Why and how did people participate or become complicit in these crimes?
  • How did Jews respond to persecution and mass murder?
  • Why and how did some people resist these crimes?

The recommendations also suggest that learners examine the relevance of the history of the Holocaust for contemporary refugee policy and issues, what impact human rights violations have on individuals and societies and what efforts are being undertaken to prevent genocide.

Teachers should above all be made aware that, with thorough preparation and adequate teaching material, they can provide effective and successful instruction on the topic of the Holocaust.

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