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The International School for Holocaust Studies

Teaching the Legacy: e-Newsletter for Holocaust Educators
(April, 2005)


At the beginning of March, 2005, the new European Department was formed at the International School for Holocaust Studies. This department aims to expand Holocaust education in Europe, especially within formal education frameworks. In recent years, many European countries have expressed their willingness to include Holocaust education within their national curriculum, as well as develop educational materials and pedagogical training programs.

The work of the new department has been primarily funded by the generous donation of The International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC). The Commission plans to continue funding the activities of the department over the next ten years.

The European Department has two main goals:

  1. Teacher training in Europe to foster Holocaust education
  2. Preparation of educational materials for students and educators throughout Europe

Teacher Training
The International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem provides teachers, in Israel and abroad, with historical knowledge as well as pedagogical guidelines on how to teach this difficult and complex subject matter in an age-appropriate and interdisciplinary way. In addition to focusing on Holocaust history, the International School for Holocaust Studies presents a wide range of didactic approaches for educators.

The European Department plans to implement educational approaches that have already been successfully tested by the International School for Holocaust Studies in Israel and around the world.

In order to create an effective learning process for teachers, the European Department offers ongoing teacher-training programs. The training process includes a preliminary meeting with educators in their respective countries, a two-week seminar at Yad Vashem, and a follow-up seminar for teachers in their countries of origin.

Some of these sessions are also geared for individuals who work at Holocaust memorial sites, museums, and research departments in Europe, whose jobs involve educational activities pertaining to the Holocaust.

Educational Materials
In addition to professional development and training, the European Department also develops educational materials for teachers and students outside of Israel. Some of these materials focus on general Holocaust–related topics, and are appropriate for use in a variety of countries. In addition, many of these kits have been developed for the specific needs of individual countries. The European Department produces lesson plans that focus on specific areas, as well as broader educational units that include a number of lessons in a given area.

The educational materials produced by the European Department at the International School for Holocaust Studies are made available in a variety of formats. The department designs conventional educational resources, such as books, teachers’ guides, and student workbooks. The department also offers online lesson plans and educational units, available through Yad Vashem’s website. During this coming year, the department will offer online professional development courses for teachers. This will be the first online distance education endeavor offered by Yad Vashem for non-Israeli teachers.

The educational materials will be prepared for teachers in their native languages.

Activities of the European Department
Since the department’s establishment in March, 2005, a number of training sessions have been organized. For example:

In March, 2005 Yad Vashem coordinated a seminar for directors of memorial sites and heads of municipalities from Hungary. This was the first seminar of its kind at Yad Vashem, and the department has plans to strengthen its connections with memorial and commemoration sites throughout the European continent.

In addition to the Hungarian seminar, there was a seminar for teachers from Russia who came to Yad Vashem for their first time to become acquainted with innovative methods of teaching the Holocaust in the classroom.

In April, 2005 two Yad Vashem experts will work with educators abroad. For example, a seminar for Hungarian teachers, and a seminar for teachers and members of the police force in Austria will be held at the Mauthausen concentration camp site near Linz. In addition, a staff member of the School will work with an estimated 250 educators in three different cities in Hungary.

In the coming months in 2005, the European Department will organize seminars for educators from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, The Czech Republic, England, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, and the Ukraine.