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On 03.03.2020 Germany took over the one year Chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). It is the foremost network of governmental representatives and experts whose purpose is to unite governments and experts to strengthen, advance and promote Holocaust education, remembrance and research and to uphold the commitments of the 2000 Stockholm Declaration.
The IHRA was initiated in 1998 by former Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson. On the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, 46 countries participated in the 2000 Stockholm Forum on the Holocaust. One of the main outcomes of the meeting was the Stockholm Declaration. It is the IHRA’s founding document and outlines that the unprecedented character of the Holocaust will always hold universal meaning, and that it fundamentally challenged the foundations of civilization. It contains a series of pledges to remember the Holocaust, educate future generations on the tragic events of the past and strengthen governmental cooperation to work towards a world without genocide.
Today the IHRA consists of 34 member countries which all share a commitment to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and to honor those who stood against it.
The IHRA identifies the most pressing post-Holocaust issues across the globe, casting a spotlight upon them for the benefit of experts and policymakers, and it promotes practicable actions to address them. It provides a critical forum for its Member Countries to communicate about their specific national experiences and to work together with counterparts to develop international best practices which are sensitive to national contexts. Twice a year, more than 200 experts and policymakers from over 40 countries come together to discuss and advance Holocaust-related issues of contemporary political importance.
Today we are at crisis point. The number of anti-Semitic attacks worldwide rose 13% in 2018 from 2017, with the highest number of incidents reported in major western democracies including the United States, France, Britain and Germany, an annual study showed in 2019. And not only are we seeing attacks, but social media has become a vehicle for antisemitism. As the frequency of attacks and abuse increases, we must rise to meet the challenge.
Priorities of the German IHRA Chairmanship
- Countering Holocaust Distortion. It is important to remember that distortion can allow for more violent and more dangerous forms of Holocaust denial and antisemitism to take place. Therefore International political coordination is imperative to combat growing Holocaust distortion and antisemitism.
- Promoting the IHRA 2020 Ministerial Declaration, adopted on 19 January 2020 by ministers and high-ranking governmental representatives from 35 countries as well as heads of international organizations. It is formed of 14 measures and includes commitments to counter antisemitism and honor the victims and survivors of the Holocaust and the genocide of the Roma.
- Promoting Recommendations on Teaching and Learning about Holocaust, available in more than 20 languages. They provide a basis for policymakers, textbook editors, curriculum planners, school administrators, and educators and teachers to:
- develop knowledge of the Holocaust, ensuring accuracy in individual understanding and knowledge and raising awareness about the possible consequences of anti-Semitism;
- create engaging teaching environments for learning about the Holocaust;
- promote reflective thinking including the ability to counter Denial and Distortion;
- contribute to Human Rights and genocide prevention education.
- Promoting the adoption of IHRA´s Working Definition of Antisemitism among its member states and beyond.