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A Conference on Education, Remembrance and Research

A Conference on Education, Remembrance and Research. 26 - 28 January, 2000.

- Background

In May 1998, the Swedish, British and US Governments established the ”Task Force for International Co-operation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research”. They were joined subsequently by Germany, Israel, Poland, the Netherlands, France and Italy. At the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets in December of that year, Task Force members issued a joint declaration stating, inter alia, that ”Holocaust education, remembrance and research strengthen humanity’s ability to absorb and learn from the dark lessons of the past, so that we can ensure that similar horrors are never again repeated.” The document also declares that ”we are committing our countries to encourage parents, teachers, and civic, political and religious leaders to undertake with renewed vigour and attention Holocaust education, remembrance and research, with a special focus on our own countries’ histories”. Other nations are called upon to strengthen their efforts in these fields, and to undertake new ones where necessary.

In line with this commitment, Prime Minister Göran Persson of Sweden invited Task Force and other interested governments to participate in The Stockholm International Forum on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research. The Forum took place on 26-28 January 2000.

The Forum’s primary goal was to facilitate international dialogue which would promote initiatives related to Holocaust education. the Forum created a unique opportunity for high-ranking political leaders and officials, civic and religious leaders, survivors, educators, historians and other interested professionals to meet and exchange knowledge and practical experience.

The point of departure was the destruction of Europe’s Jewish population, and the concomitant subjugation and murder of other peoples and minorities in World War II, and what the study of these unspeakable disasters can teach us.

The Forum seeked to encourage the idea that by remembering, educating about and studying the Holocaust, we will arrive at and invigorate a common recognition of the imperative need to combat racism, ethnic hatred and ignorance of the past. On the threshold of a new century, we remain aware that in the past hundred years, millions of lives were destroyed in the most cruel way because of racism, prejudice, intolerance and indifference to the plight and agony of others. In view of the lessons and legacies of the past, it is therefore incumbent upon us all to safeguard the future of our children by promoting and strengthening democratic values and protecting the basic human rights of the individual, regardless of his or her origin.

The Forum focused upon the following basic questions:

What can we learn from the Holocaust, and how can its study alert contemporary society to the dangers of racism, anti-Semitism, ethnic conflict and other expressions of hate and discrimination? Can we predict the conditions which create persecution and genocide, and prevent their reoccurrence?

What can and should political, civic and religious leaders do to promote Holocaust education, remembrance and research?

Holocaust education has been in progress for a long time in many different parts of the world. The Swedish initiative was unique in as much as it emphasised the importance of support at the very highest political level. The Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust provided opportunities for a close dialogue between government representatives from different countries and international experts dedicated to studies of the Holocaust and the knowledge that should be transferred to coming generations.

Forty-eight countries were invited to attend the conference. Multilateral organisations were also invited to take part. In addition to its official representatives, each country had the opportunity to include on their delegations representatives of the research and educational communities, staff from museums and archives, NGOs, and other representatives. Representatives of Holocaust survivors played a prominent role at the Forum.

A selected group of international experts on areas related to the Holocaust were invited to participate as moderators or speakers at the various panel discussions and workshops.

The Nobel Peace Laureate, Elie Wiesel, was the Honorary Chairman of the conference, while Professor Yehuda Bauer from the The International Centre for Holocaust Studies Yad Vashem in Jerusalem served as academic adviser.

The Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust took place at Folkets Hus in Stockholm. Each country was invited to exhibit material at the conference. In addition an exhibition entitled Visas for Life was on display. The latter is an exhibition about a number of diplomats including Raoul Wallenberg who risked their lives to save Jews from the Holocaust. The exhibition was inaugurated with a ceremony in honour of Raoul Wallenberg. A declaration from the conference was presented. This took the form of a message for the future highlighting mutual understanding as one of the most important lessons to be learned from the Holocaust. The declaration also contained commitments with respect to commemoration days, educational initiatives and research.

The following countries were invited to attend the conference
Albania, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, the Holy See, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia (FYROM), Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay.

In addition, representatives of the Council of Europe, the EU, OSCE and the UN ewre invited to take part.

The 27 January, the middle point of the Forum, marked th. 55th anniversary of the liberation of the death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most famous site and symbol of the Holocaust. There could be no better time to reflect on its implications for our time.

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Opening Session: Messages and speeches

Plenary Sessions: Messages and speeches

Workshops, Panels and Seminars

Closing Session and Declaration

Other Activities

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