Photo Courtsey: Salzburg Global Seminar
Society for Social Regeneration & Equity (SSRE) was represented by Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi, Executive Director of its Youth Outreach Programme (formerly the Secretary of SSRE) at the Salzburg Global Seminar’s third symposium on Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention, held at Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg, Austria from 21st to 26th June, 2014. The symposium, chaired by Dr. Klaus Mueller, European Representative of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, brought together forty-eight educators, representatives from civil society organizations, museums, memorials, policy makers, and others engaged in holocaust and genocide remembrance and education from twenty-nine countries, primarily from those outside Western Europe, North America and Israel. Society for Social Regeneration & Equity (SSRE) was the only organization from India to be represented at the symposium, which is part of a multi-year initiative on Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention that the Salzburg Global Seminar, an independent non-profit organization based in Austria with the mission to challenge current and future leaders to solve issues of global concern, has undertaken in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Austrian Future Fund and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
Dr. Aafreedi has been raising Holocaust Awareness in India for a number of years. He has to his credit the first ever Holocaust Films Retrospective in South Asia, held in 2009, with screenings at the University of Lucknow and Ambedkar University in Lucknow. He conducted a workshop on how to educate Indians about the Holocaust at an international conference on Holocaust education at the Yad Vashem International School for Holocaust Studies in Jerusalem, Israel in 2012 and attended an International Holocaust Educator Institute at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, in September 2013. His work for Holocaust awareness has also found mention on pages 169 and 170 of Lakehead University, Canada’s Professor Anna Guttman’s Writing Indians and Jews: Metaphorics of Jewishness in South Asian Literature, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2013 (ISBN 978-1-137-33967-6). Society for Social Regeneration & Equity (SSRE) is the only Indian organization to have launched a Holocaust Education Project.
The symposium focused on the following issues:
- How to bring the lessons of the Holocaust to future generations, especially in the world beyond Europe, North America and Israel
- Ways to teach and build awareness about the root causes of the Holocaust and other genocides, drawing on experiences from around the globe; and
- Strategies to counteract Holocaust and genocide denial and distortion
Participants reflected on the state of Holocaust and genocide education in their own countries and considered the following key questions:
- As the twenty-first century moves forward, what lessons can be drawn from the Holocaust and those elements that led to xenophobia, intolerance, hatred and the outbreak of horrific crimes against humanity?
- Can the Holocaust function as a reference point for understanding contemporary genocides?
- Can approaches to Holocaust education such as those designed and implemented in IHRA countries be effective in other countries? And conversely, what can educators within the IHRA learn from programs in other countries?
- If we agree that inter-generational dialogue is a key element in fostering tolerance among the next generation, how do we bring the young people into it? How can policymakers and opinion-leaders be engaged in such a dialogue?
- What is the role of civil society leaders in building a culture of awareness among the younger generation of the horrors that hate speech and intolerance can unleash? How can opinion-leaders and educational policymakers be engaged in this process?
- How can students and teachers accept events which happened in a very different cultural and socio-economic context as relevant to their own situation?
- What strategies have been tested to counter Holocaust and genocide denial and distortion?