02 May 2019
The results of the recent Claims Conference survey in Austria indicate that while there are some worrying gaps in the Austrian public's knowledge about the Shoah, in recent years there has been measurable change in their perception of the history of the Holocaust. For example, more and more Austrians have come to the realization that the Austrian nation was not the first victim of Nazi aggression, a previously widespread sentiment. Moreover, there is a desire to remedy misconceptions such as these through dedicated educational activities. Therefore, efforts to bring increased Holocaust knowledge and education to teachers and students alike must be strengthened in Austria.
For the past 20 years, Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, has been cooperating with the Federal Ministry of Education in Austria and its dedicated Holocaust Remembrance Association, errinern.at. Some 1,000 educators, from all nine Austrian provinces, have attended Holocaust educational workshops, seminars and conferences at Yad Vashem's International School for Holocaust Studies in Jerusalem. Those who visit Yad Vashem and participate in its seminars receive age-appropriate kits of educational resources, helping them to teach the Holocaust to their students back at home in an effective and appropriate manner.
Yad Vashem is encouraged by indicators that suggest there is overwhelming readiness to increase educational efforts such as these, so that more Austrians can help ensure that Holocaust remembrance remains relevant to future generations.
"We were pleased to cooperate closely on this initiative, as well previous studies conducted on the status of Holocaust education in North America," remarked Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev. "Teacher-training is of paramount importance when it comes to Holocaust education and remembrance across the globe. We must strengthen these efforts in the classroom, and develop specialized programming for policy makers, opinion shapers and law enforcement personnel."