Prof Dr HC Axel Freimuth: "The signing of this cooperation agreement is historic for our university. At the same time it represents the continuation of a path that is the an investigation of the Nazi past within our institution."
11 November 2020
This week marks the 82nd anniversary of the November Pogroms of 1938, also known as Kristallnacht. Commemorating this event, Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, and the University of Cologne signed a new cooperative agreement bolstering and ensuring effective Holocaust education in Germany.
Dr. Eyal Kaminka, Lily Safra Chair of Holocaust Education and Director of Yad Vashem's International School for Holocaust Studies, was joined by Rector Professor Dr. Axel Freimuth of the University of Cologne to sign this historic agreement, the third of its kind with a German university.
Many dignitaries and high-ranking officials from Yad Vashem, the University of Cologne and the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia took part in today's virtual ceremony, including NRW’s Minister of Science Dr. Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen; University Chancellor Dr. Michael Stückradt and Vice-Rector for Teaching and Studies Professor Dr. Beatrix Busse; Abraham Lehrer from the Central Council of Jews in Germany; and the community of the synagogue of Cologne. Taking part in the ceremony from Yad Vashem were Director of the International Relations and Projects of the International School for Holocaust Studies, Richelle Budd-Caplan; Director of the International Relations and Projects Department of the International School Dr. Noa Mkayton; and Dr. Birte Hewera of the International School’s German Section, among others.
Rector Freimuth said:
"The University of Cologne attaches great importance to research that facilitates democracy and exposes conspiracy fantasies, antisemitism and hate. Sadly, inhumane crimes also occurred at the University of Cologne under National Socialism. We are committed to uncovering these crimes and to remembering those who were persecuted and murdered. With Yad Vashem, we now have a strong partner with whom to shape an inclusive and democratic future."
Dr Eyal Kaminka remarked:
"Even 82 years after the November Pogroms, we see their historical importance and relevance for teachers and students today. We know from studying about the Holocaust that many well-educated people did not challenge the Nazi regime and – even worse – participated in persecuting and murdering Jewish people during this dark period of our not so distant past. Our partnership with the University of Cologne will enable us to further address issues of racism, antisemitism, scope of choice, and our responsibility to shape a better future."
The event included a presentation of Yad Vashem’s online exhibition "The November Pogrom 'Kristallnacht'" featuring personal stories from the November Pogroms in Germany and Austria on 9–10 November 1938.