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Yad Vashem Presents New Holocaust and Antisemitism Lesson Plan to 29 European Ambassadors and Embassy Representatives Remembrance Day Event at the Invitation of Cabinet Minister Sharansky

25 January 2004

At the invitation of Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Natan Sharansky, Yad Vashem recently conducted a presentation of its new lesson plan, Remembering the Holocaust and Combating Xenophobia to ambassadors and embassy representatives from 29 European nations.

Minister Sharansky opened the event, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev spoke, and Pedagogical Director of the International School for Holocaust Studies Shulamit Imber explained the lesson plan. Following the presentation, the United Kingdom’s Ambassador to Israel, Simon McDonald spoke. An open discussion followed, in which ambassadors and representatives from Ireland, Italy, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Croatia commented.

In attendance were Ambassadors, Honorary Consuls, and Representatives of the European Union, Germany, Austria, the UK, the Netherlands, Italy, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia, Ukraine, Armenia, Albania, Greece, and Cyprus.

Minister Sharansky said, “There is a deep connection between remembering the Holocaust and meeting the challenge posed by the resurgence of antisemitism today.

Antisemitism must not be allowed to stain legitimately expressed criticism of Israel, as this is a dangerous abuse of free speech and democracy. Schools, community centers, and other institutions around the world would do well to utilize Yad Vashem’s lesson plan, which combines learning about the Holocaust, remembrance, and insight into today’s antisemitism.”

Chairman Shalev said, “The world community’s common responsibility is to remember the Shoah, as it touches the most fundamental issues of human society. Seething Jew-hatred has made a very dangerous incursion into all facets of public life in Europe. As the Holocaust taught us, demonization of Jews is dangerous first to the Jews, and then to the societies in which they live - even those in the very cradle of democratic civilization. The only remedy is education.

Our new lesson plan, Remembering the Holocaust and Combating Xenophobia on January 27th, is an example of how Yad Vashem is committing its resources to Holocaust education and combating today’s antisemitism.”

Ambassador McDonald said, “Antisemitism is an evil which must be defeated by every generation. It the responsibility of Government to prevent antisemitism from taking shape and action. Ignorance leads to hatred, and knowledge is the best weapon against the revival of these. Yad Vashem is best positioned to impart its knowledge and educational tools at the forefront of the battle against antisemitism.”

About January 27

January 27 is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Many European countries hold their official Holocaust remembrance days on this date. Among them are Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Greece, Russia, Estonia, Romania, and the Czech Republic.

Yad Vashem and January 27

For events on this day, the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem provides Holocaust remembrance ceremonies, lesson plans, online exhibitions, a photograph library, and lists of victims’ names for memorial readings.

New among these is the International School’s one-hour lesson plan, Remembering the Holocaust and Combating Xenophobia on January 27th. This one-hour lesson plan explores the teaching of Nazi racist ideology in German schools following Hitler’s rise to power and examines key moral questions raised by the Holocaust. The lesson plan features authentic source material from the Nazi period, including visual aids and testimonies of Jewish schoolchildren, as well as questions for discussion and a section regarding the resurgence in antisemitism today. It is available in English, German, French, Italian, and Swedish.