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The Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Center and the Holocaust Foundation
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Kaliningrad hosted the international forum marking 75 years after the Kristallnacht

17 2013

On November 14-17, 2013, Kaliningrad hosted the international forum marking 75 years after the Kristallnacht, the first wave of anti-Jewish pogroms organized by the Nazis and directed against synagogues and Jewish neighborhoods in Germany, including East Prussia in 1938.

The forum included international conference, seminars for teachers of Jewish schools of CIS and Baltic states was held at the initiative of the Russian Jewish Congress (RJC), Russian Holocaust Center and Foundation. It brought together more than 50 scholars, public figures and teachers from Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Israel, Japan, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Russia, United States, and Ukraine.

The International conference “Holocaust Lessons and Contemporary Russia” was held in Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University (Kaliningrad) November 14-16, 2013. The city was chosen as the conference site because Königsberg, as Kaliningrad was called before 1946, was the only place in contemporary Russia where Kristallnacht occurred.

A keynote speaker was one of the most prominent contemporary Holocaust scholar Professor Michael Berenbaum from American Jewish University in Los Angeles. He spoke about the reasons and consequences of the Kristallnacht, while placing the event in the context of the Jewish history. Special emphasis was laid on analyzing the American responses to the Kristallnacht. Dr. Shimon Samuels, another keynote speaker, Director of International Programs at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre (Paris), addressed contemporary issue of Holocaust remembrance, anti-Semitism, and growing anti-Israeli stance in Europe.

One of the conference panels handled the topic of the Kristallnacht. Noteworthy was the presentation by Professor Alan Steiweis from the University of Vermont, a major expert on the topic and the author of the book “Kristallnacht, 1938”. He spoke on historical background against which this pogrom erupted and the ways it grasped by contemporary German society. Particularly illuminating were Professor Steiweis’s observations on whether the Kristallnacht could be considered as a premeditated action vs. the unfolding of the “Final Solution”. Professor Johann Chapoutot from the University of Grenoble who shed light on the hitherto neglected international aspects of the Kristallnacht. Dr. Jürgen Zarusky from Munich-based Institute of Contemporary History provided a historical background of the Kristallnacht vis-à-vis arrests of Jewish men and their subsequent fates in Nazi concentration camps.

Another panel looked into the activities of Chiune Sugihara, a famous Japanese Righteous among the Nations who during the Kristallnacht served as a Japanese Consul in Königsberg. Particularly important insights were provided by Professor Ilya Altman, Head of the Russian Holocaust Center, and Professor Chizuko Takao from Rikkyo University, Japan, who spoke on the transit of Jewish refugees through the USSR with the visas issued by Sugihara and their reception in Japan, respectively. Kiril Feferman from the Russian Holocaust Center explored the ways the escape by means of visas was viewed in rabbinical circles in Lithuania.

In the morning on November 17, the conference participants paid homage to the Holocaust victims at the memorial set in the village of Yantarnoe where the SS had massacred some 7,000 Jews on January 30, 1945. This was the last biggest execution of the Jews during the Second World war.

The international conference “Autonomous Histories and Studies of the Holocaust”

05 2013

On November 3-5, the international conference “Autonomous Histories and Studies of the Holocaust” was held in Tel-Aviv. It was organized jointly by Tel Aviv University and Bar Ilan University. The conference was attended by worldly renowned scholars, among them Professor Dan Diner (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Professor Steven Katz (Boston University), Professor David Engel (New York University), and Professor Zvi Gitelman (University of Michigan). Russian Holocaust Center was represented by Dr. Kiril Feferman who spoke on the peculiarities of Jewish and German sources in covering the Holocaust in the occupied Soviet territories.

Профессор Илья Альтман прочитает лекцию в университете Гамбурга

30 2013

30 октября. Университет Гамбурга открыла серию публичных лекций по истории Холокоста в Восточной Европе. Она проходит в рамках семинара по истории этого региона возглавил известный эксперт по немецко-украинских отношений профессор Франк Golczewski. Илья Альтман стал первым иностранным ученым предложено выступить с речью. Он выступил с докладом “Исторические повествования Холокоста в России”, а также рассмотрели широкий спектр вопросов, от создания и деятельности российского Центра " Холокост", как эта тема рассматривается в школьные учебники, и его интеграции в научно-исследовательских Великой Отечественной войны. Профессор Альтман ответил на вопросы, заданные участниками семинара, большинство из которых были студентами. Профессор Альтман также проведены переговоры о сотрудничестве приняли участие проф. д-р Аня Tippner, профессор института славистики.

The Exploit of Sobibor Uprising participants should be recognized in Russia

14 2013

 On October 14, Russian Jewish Congress (RJC) and Russian Holocaust center conducted a memorial evening dedicated to Sobibor Uprising that took place 70 years ago. The event was attended by war veterans, schoolchildren, representatives of diplomatic cosps, Russian Ministry of Forein Affairs, Russian Ministry of Defense, and Moscow City Board.
 The evening was moderated by Ilya Altman. Among those speaking at the event were the RJC President Yuri Kanner, Member of the Public Chamber Nikolai Svanidze, German Ambassador to Russia Ulrich Brandenburg, Bulgarian Ambassador Boiko Kotsev, acting Israeli Ambassador Olga Slov, and other dignitaries. Speaker of Knesset Yuli Edelshtein sent his greetings to thse participating in the event. The participants empasized that the process of getting the Sobibor Unprising heroes honored with Russian state awards is at its final stage and it is bound to lead to concrete results.
 Among the honorary participants there were also relatives of Alexander Pecherski and Aleksei Vaitsen, the only remaining participant of the Sobibor Uprising who  resides in Russia.
 During the event, there were screened parts of the movie “Arithmetics of Freedom” by Alexander Marutyan featuring documentary cadres of the liberation of Sobibor camp.

“Holocaust Education in the 21st Century”.

09 2013

From October 7 to 9, the University of Augsburg (Bavaria, Germany) hosted the international conference “Holocaust Education in the 21st Century”. Experts representing educational, scientific, museum centers from Germany, Israel, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Sweden, and USA shared their experience in working with various audiences using varied methodological approaches. The Russian Holocaust Center was represented by Dr. Kiril Feferman who spoke about the Center’s years-long experience and its achievements in teaching Holocaust in Russia.

Wiesenthal Centre to Beslan School Massacre Commemoration Calls for Solidarity Platform of Mayors From Cities Targeted by Terrorism Attacks Against Children “International Children’s Agencies urged to

03 2013

 3 September 2013
Beslan, North Ossetia Caucasus, Russia,
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, was invited by the Russian Holocaust Centre to keynote an international conference on “Children – Victims of Terror.” This was held, in Beslan and the Wladikavkaz State University, on the ninth anniversary of the 3 day siege of 1,100 hostages—including 770 children—at the Beslan school in North Ossetia Caucasus, Russia.
Beslan became known around the world in the wake of a Chechen suicide operation that killed over 186 children and over 100 parents, teachers and rescuers. This total number is unknown due to disappeared and burned bodies of hostages and terrorists.
Samuels highlighted the distortion of religious principles of the sanctity of human life and the duty to protect the child in the Jihadist inculcation of a culture of death. He also focussed on the Nazi deliberate targeting of 1,5 million Jewish children, shot, starved and gassed.
The Centre noted that 30 years before Beslan, a similar attack on a school in the Jewish-Arab Galillea town of Masalot-Tarshicka in Israel. 25 children were murdered by Palestinian terrorists. More recently, a Jewish school was attacked by a Jihadist in Toulouse, France, leaving 4 dead.
Samuels discussed with the Mayor of Beslan, the Minister for Ethnic Policy (responsible for counter-terrorism) and the Vice-President of the Republic, the establishment of a solidarity platform of mayors from cities victims of terrorism against children.
The Centre will approach such cities to share the lessons and pain of these atrocities.
Similarly, all children’s welfare organizations from Save the Children to Oxfam, World Vision, Care and the Red Cross will be called upon to join “the Beslan Initiative” by endorsing the designation of terrorism against children as a crime against humanity.
“We hope that the 10th anniversary in September 2014, in the burnt out school memorial and the “City of Angels” cemetery (see photos) will commemorate all child victims of terrorism around the globe in the presence of representatives from the targeted communities.
We believe that this global platform would be a powerful voice of outrage at such acts to strive together that Beslan, Maalot, Toulouse, and all other long-grieving cities serve as a warning and not a precedent,” concluded Samuels.

KEYNOTE SPEECH – BESLAN 3, September 2013

Head of the educational and research department of the Russian Holocaust Center awarded a scholarly prize of Israeli Trade Union for his book on the Holocaust in the Crimea and the Caucasus

18 2013

18 August 2013
Dr. Kiril Feferman, head of the educational and research department of the Russian Holocaust Center was awarded a special scholarly prize of Egis Foundation administered by Israeli Trade Union (Histadrut). The prize was given for Dr. Feferman’s major book “The Holocaust in the Russian Ethnic Frontier: The Crimea and the North Caucasus”. The book is based on the author’s doctoral dissertation approved by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2008.
The book is forthcoming in English in Yad Vashem in 2014.

Ninth Annual Wiesenthal Centre "Verbe et Lumiere" Russian Holocaust Centre Essay Winners Feted at UNESCO

17 2013

Paris, 17 July 2013
  A Holocaust essay competition in universities across the former Soviet Union, that began in 2004 with 25 submissions, this year exceeded 2,000.
Founded by the Moscow-based Russian Holocaust Centre and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's French educational affiliate "Verbe et Lumiere-Vigilance", the five winners are annually received by UNESCO in Paris.
Opened by the Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels and the Co-Chairs of the Russian Holocaust Centre, Alla Gerber - first woman Parliamentarian in post-Soviet Russian -  and Dr. IIya Altman, the event was attended by the Permanent Delegates to UNESCO of France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Russia, Ukraine, United States and the Vatican.
The meeting was chaired by UNESCO Deputy Director-General, Getachew Engida, who declared the Holocaust "a dark heritage for humanity", thanking the student laureates for their dedication to its study.
Alla Gerber responded, warning of growing xenophobia in Russia, "it was slogans like today's 'Russia for the Russians' that led to mass murder".
This years' keynote  speakers were David Kessler, the Elysee Palace's Cultural Counsellor and Father Norbert Hofmann, Secretary of the Vatican Commission on Relations with the Jews.
Mr. Kessler focused on "the paradox of French history as both collaborator and resistance".  He stressed the role of compensation,opening archives and education in accepting that history, speaking of his own work on the restitution process and quoting the title of Jacques Semelin's book "Neither Heroes nor Villians"   
Father Hofmann named the Holocaust as "a neo-pagan device to wipe out the divine force from history", speaking of "Nostra Aetate as the Magna Carta of the Catholic church and the Jews," also addressing Catholic collaboration and resistance, and of the "passive spectators who kept their eyes closed".  He elaborated on today's "binding commitment"of the Church to the Jews.
The five winners and their papers were:
Ms. Nadiia Skokova, of the Ostroh National University of Ukraine,on "The Holocaust in Volhynia during the Nazi occupation"
Mr. Nikita Vrazovskiy, Russian State University for Humanities of Moscow,on "The Uprisings of the Warsaw and Bialystok Ghettoes"
Ms. Svetlana Antonova, Moscow State University,on"The Holocaust in Israeli media - A comparison between the Hebrew and Russian language press"
Ms. Vera Beletskaya, Moscow State Institute for Foreign Relations,on "The Holocaust and the Guilt Complex of the Germans"
Mr. Gukov Arsenii, Education-Science-Production Complex of Orel University,on "A Comparative Analysis of Holocaust Denial"
The diplomats' responses included:-
- Hungary's Ambassador Katalin Bogyay, who is also President of the UNESCO General Conference, spoke of plans for the 2014 70th anniversary of the deportation of the Hungarian Jews - and as a former journalist - "the challenges of engaging young people in this dialogue and forging new ways to teach the teachers ".
- German Ambassador, Michael Worbs, congratulated the Russian Holocaust Centre for its ""post-Soviet initiative to meet the past, not to repress it".
- Vatican Ambassador, Monsignor Follo, emphasised that "just to study the events of the Holocaust is not enough, one must apply the causes - we may know the dictum "thou shalt not steal, but still steal".
- United States Ambassador, David Killion, congratulated "the Simon Wiesenthal Centre for pushing UNESCO to be what it should be", adding,"we all bear collective guilt for slavery and not intervening quickly in the Holocaust and Rwanda".
Verbe et Lumiere-Vigliance President, Richard Odier, concluded the meeting in emphasising the obligation of the Holocaust to act as a call for activism in contemporary cases of mass murder, as in Darfur, Syria or regions where the media is absent
Dr. Altman and Dr. Samuels noted that "thousands of students over the past nine years from across Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltics have,through this programme, been sensitized to the history of the Holocaust, especially on the territory of the Soviet Union.  With 45 winning essays and thousands of other submissions from Archangelsk to Vladivostok,they proposed that "for the tenth anniversary, this wealth of material be edited for a volume under UNESCO's auspices".
Top row from left:  Laureates, Russian and US delegates, Dr. Ilya Altman, Dr. Graciela Samuels, UNESCO, Fr. Norbert Hofmann, Paola Leoncini-Bartoli, UNESCO, Dr. S. Samuels
Bottom row from left: French delegate, David Kessler, Hungarian Ambassador, UNESCO Deputy Director-General Getachew Engida, Alla Gerber, Vatican delegate.

Paris. The third seminar of the regional coordinators of the Russian Holocaust Center

02 2013

July 2nd, 2013

The third annual seminar for regional coordinators of the Russian Holocaust Center was held in the capital of France is where. Teachers from nine regions of Russia took part in it. The seminar opened on July 1st at the Museum “Shoah Memorial” in the center of Paris. The Center of Jewish Documentation, a part of the Memorial, celebrated its 70th anniversary. The head of the international programs at the Museum Luke Levi welcomed the Russian teachers. On the first day active debates were caused by the lecture of the famous historian, the editor of “Revue de la Shoah’” (that comes out two times a year), the author of the recent monograph on Jews’ fate in North African countries during the Second World War, Dr. George Bensoussan. Dr. Tal Brutman (University of Grenoble) demonstrated the development of Western historiography about “the Final Solution for the Jewish issue”. He gave definitions of the death camps, concentration camps and places of extermination (the last ones existed mostly on the Soviet territory). Employees of the pedagogical department talked about the methodology of the Museum education, which is more focused on projects, as well as demonstrated the latest training aids of the Memorial de la Shoah. Huge interest was evoked by the tour around the Museum.

Second day of the seminar started with the visit of the Drancy internment camp and continued at the Educational Center in the countryside. The students from Paris as well as from other regions of France actively use new technologies and Museum’s exposition. One of the head employees of the Museum Philipp Bukara told us about France on the eve of the Holocaust.

Third day of the seminar was remembered above all because of a brilliant lecture on political repressions in the USSR given by the leading specialist of France on this topic Nicolas Wert. Valerie Posner presented the topic of the Holocaust reflection in the soviet documentary and feature films. Professor Anni Epelbaum presented her recent book on Soviet literature about the Holocaust. Dr. Alan Blum talked about the methodology of writing the interviews and building the site on the victims of deportations on the eve and after the War. The participants of the seminar eagerly listened to the lectures of less well-known facts about the Armenian genocide in Russia in 1915 and the Tutsis’ tragedy in Rwanda.

XIV annual summer session for the novice teachers on the topic of the Holocaust completed its jobх преподавателей по теме Холокоста завершила свою работу

29 2013

June 29th, 2013
On 29th of June in the Moscow region XIV annual session for the beginners at teaching the Holocaust topic ended; representatives of more than 30 regions of Russia, from Vladivostok to Pskov and Nalchik, participated in it.  Seven regions took part in such seminar for the very first time. The participants of the session presented their lessons and shared the experience at organizing extracurricular and outside of classroom activities. They listened to the lectures on history of the Holocaust in Europe (K. Feferman) and specialties of the Holocaust on the Soviet territory (I. Altman), modern methods and innovations of the Yad Vashem International School on teaching the Holocaust (M. Pollak, Israel).  There were also practical trainings in groups, during which the participants prepared a project for a textbook on the topic “From the Holocaust to Beslan” and discussed the structure of the textbook via multimedia. At the final meeting co-chairman of the Russian Holocaust Center Ilya Altman spoke to the teachers, professors and employees of the training institutes about the Center, its projects and plans for the future.

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