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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.

“Letters and diaries of the Great Patriotic War” Войны”

20 2013

June 20th, 2013
On June 20th, on the eve of the Day of Memory and Sorrow, the third edition of the unique documentary “Save my letters…” was presented at the Russian Holocaust Center. It was published within the series “Russian Holocaust Library”. Alexander Minkin, the author of the foreword and journalist at “Moskovski Komsomolets” (his grandfather’s letters, written on the pieces of elm, were also included in the collection), Alla Gerber, the president of the Russian Holocaust Center and member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, the collectors – co-chairman of the Russian Holocaust Center Ilya Altman and the head of the Archive Leonid Terushkin, as well as Vadim Brodsky, and the director general of “Polimed”, which published the book, spoke at the presentation. The collection of letters and diaries continues. Next issue in the series that is being published with the help from the Russian Jewish Congress is scheduled for release on the 70th anniversary of Victory.

The Holocaust through the eyes of an Orthodox bishop

13 2013

June 13th, 2013
The Round table, dedicated to remembrance of the Holocaust, took place yesterday at the RJC Memorial synagogue. The organizers were the Public Chamber commission on Interethnic Relations and Freedom of Conscience, the Serbian Embassy, along with the Russian Jewish Congress, the Russian Holocaust Center and Fund “Holocaust”. The RJC President Yury Kanner opened the meeting. The chairman of the Public Chamber commission on Interethnic Relations and Freedom of Conscience, Nikolai Svanidze, led the meeting.
Slobodan Terzic, the Serbian ambassador also attended the meeting. In his speech he noted that nowadays it is really important to deal with recently observed spirit of historical revisionism; nations should not forget such tragedies as genocide and the Holocaust. Slobodan Terzic expressed his support to the activities of the Russian Jewish Congress and the Russian Holocaust Center and Fund “Holocaust”, as well as his willingness to participate in the events, dedicated to the remembrance of the Holocaust.
The main hero of the meeting was Father Jovan Culibrk, Vicar Bishop of the Lipljan the Serbian Orthodox Church, a person with a very interesting life story. Father Jovan is a well-known public figure; he has been working on the establishment of the interfaith dialogue between the Serbian Orthodox Church and Judaism as well as between Jews and Serbians. Father Jovan studied theology at the Orthodox theological facilities, took an MA in Jewish Culture at Yad Vashem and Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  He also received the Golda Meir Award, defended his thesis on the study of the Holocaust.
His book “Historiography of the Holocaust in Yugoslavia” deals with terrible massacre of Jews, Serbs, and Gypsies on the territory of Yugoslavia, concentration camps in Croatia, and about how not only the German Army, but also the local people destroyed the nations that lived nearby for centuries. Father Jovan’s work evoked great interest among Russian historians and public figures. Nikolai Svanidze expressed his concern that it is necessary for our country to invest into serious historical research projects on the tragedy of the Holocaust, such as Father Jovan’s historiography, because “the Holocaust was implemented on the Soviet territory in a horrible way and on a massive scale”. Unfortunately, today’s absence of such work is a very big problem. According to him, such scientific work “could have been a great interest for the Russian Orthodox Church, because the latter professes humanistic principles and reaches out to its audience, regardless of its ethnical affiliation”. All participants of the meeting supported the opinion that the Church should express a greater interest in this problem.
Co-chairman of the Russian Holocaust Center I. Altman expressed his hope that Father Jovan Culibrk’s work would be translated into Russian and become a part of publications of the Russian Holocaust Library.

Photo by N. Anisina

The board of directors of the Russian Holocaust Center and Fund “Holocaust” signed the Global Anti-Nazi Charter

11 2013

June 11th, 2013

The President of the Fund “Holocaust”, and co-chairperson of the Russian Holocaust Center A. Gerber along with co-chairman of the Russian Holocaust Center I. Altman signed the Global Anti-Nazi Charter.

The Global Anti-Nazi Charter is an international declaration of fundamental principles of the anti-Nazi activities, based on common objectives and goals to combat racism, xenophobia, radical nationalism, religious hatred and neo-Nazism.

The Global Anti-Nazi Charter calls for humanity to establish the moral, political and legal barriers to the spread of the ideology of hatred, which becomes a fertile ground for the growth of neo-Nazi sentiments that, in turn, can escalate into physical acts of violence to the point of the outbreak of local, regional and world wars.

The Global Anti-Nazi Charter is directed to awake in people the sense of the common responsibility for peace and prosperity in the present and the future. Its goal is the world without Nazism, aggressive nationalism and hatred.

The Global Anti-Nazi Charter, while being the general document of the International Human Rights Movement “World without Nazism”, is designed for the wider dissemination to all people of good will with the purpose to familiarize them with the problem. Charter gives people a chance to speak up on their position regarding this issue and contribute to the fight against the spread of radical nationalist and neo-Nazi ideas…

For more information:

Co-chairman of the Russian Holocaust Center participated in the ceremony of the remembrance of the Hungarian Jews

05 2013

June 5th, 2013

 Voronezh. Ilya Altman spoke at the ceremony that took place at the War Memorial in the Rudkino village. Here rest the remains of approximately 2000 Hungarian Jews from so-called labor battalions. Co-chairman of the Russian Holocaust Center called those people, whom the Hungarian soldiers deprived from weapons, forced to starve and sent in order to the minefields, a peculiar “forfeit battalion deprived of a right for rehabilitation”. He noted that amongst all the other commemoratives at this memorial there is a Jewish symbol – menorah. However, there are no such commemoratives and texts at any place of execution in the Voronezh region. The representative delegation from Moscow took part in the ceremony: Israeli ambassador to Russia Dorit Golender, chief Rabbi of Russia A.S. Shaevich, Secretary-General of the Eurasian Jewish Congress M.A. Chlenov, as well as the head of the Jewish community in Voronezh M.E. Segal. The ceremony of the remembrance of the Hungarian Jews, who against their will fought on Nazi Germany’s side, took place in Russia for the very first time. This happened thanks to the efforts of the family of Ian Verkhaymer, who rests at the memorial under Voronezh. After the War Verkhaymer’s family moved to Israel, and only after 70 years his granddaughter Carney Gerstein found her grandfather’s grave with the help of Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Riga. The second international conference “Museums and memorial sites of the Holocaust in post-communist countries: challenges and opportunities”

31 2013

May 31st, 2013

 The second international conference “Museums and memorial sites of the Holocaust in post-communist countries: challenges and opportunities” took place on May 27-28th, 2013 in Riga at the Latvian Academy of Sciences. The organizer of the event was the Jewish community “Shamir”; the Ministry of Culture of the Latvian Republic and Riga City Council showed great support. This year participants of the conference were scientists from Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, as well as representatives of Israel, Poland and Hungary. Leonid Terushkin, Gregory Reikhman, Dmitry Alekseev, Natalya Anisina, Tatyana Pasman, Daniil Tunin, Vadim Brodsky, as well as Dr. Irina Rebrova (Russia), Alexandra Cherkasski (Germany) and Dr. Aron Schneer (Israel), who collaborate with the Russian Holocaust Center, presented their projects. During the conference Vadim Brodsky presented a new edition by the Russian Holocaust Center – David Zilberman’s book  “Like a star in the darkness”, dedicated to the act of bravery by the Righteous of the world Janis (Jean Lipke). The director Maris Kaylis presented the book to the new museum of Jean Lipke, with whom the agreement to cooperate was reached.

 On the picture: L. Terushkin, photo by G. Reikhman (Israel-Riga-Israel). 

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