Education, Remembrance, Research, and Memorial Sites

The Flemish, French, and German linguistic communities are responsible for education policy, including the development of educational programs on remembrance, tolerance, and citizenship.  Education on the Holocaust is a mandatory part of school curricula.  In 2014 and 2015, thousands of Belgian youths rode a train from Brussels to Auschwitz-Birkenau to attend the international commemoration of the liberation of Europe.  A similar initiative is planned for 2020.

Belgium joined the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in 2005 and observes International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.  Belgium’s Center for Historical Research and Documentation on War and Contemporary Society participates in the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure.  The Foundation of Contemporary Memory collects 20th century testimonials from the Jewish community in Belgium.

A monument at the Dossin Barracks in Mechelen solemnly marks the assembly point in Belgium where Jews and Roma were deported to concentration camps during World War II.  The monument is one of 40 monuments in Belgium dedicated to the remembrance of victims of the Holocaust.  The Jewish Museum of Belgium, which was the site of a terrorist attack on May 24, 2014, has a room dedicated to the victims and survivors of the Shoah.


Education, Remembrance, Research, and Memorial Sites

Lessons regarding the history of the Holocaust have been part of the Finnish school curriculum since the 1950s.  Since 1993, the Finnish Holocaust Remembrance Association (HUM), an NGO open to all citizens, has worked to raise awareness about racism and anti-Semitism and to keep the memory of the victims of the Holocaust alive.  In 2010, HUM became a partner of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.  In 2016, the National Board of Education added a module to the national core curriculum dedicated to the historical and ethical context of human rights and crimes against humanity.

Formal Holocaust remembrance events have included commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day and periodic public educational events.  Since 1995, HUM has organized Holocaust Memorial Day events on the same day as the Yom HaShoah (Days of Remembrance) in the Jewish calendar.  Starting in 2001, the Memorial Day date changed to January 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and in 2002, the Ministry of Education began to provide financial support for commemoration activities.  In 2003, organizers held the memorial event at the University of Helsinki, where Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen gave the keynote speech.  On April 1, 2019, HUM organized a seminar in Helsinki’s new Central Library Oodi to coincide with the publication earlier that year of an extensive National Archives report on the role of Finnish volunteers in the Nazi Waffen SS.  The seminar included a film project about Finnish sailors in German concentration camps; the placing of commemorative markers, also known as “stumbling stones” (in German, Stolperstein) in memory of the Jews handed over to Nazi Germany; and the release of a new book documenting the life of a Holocaust survivor who settled in Finland.

The most significant recent public research regarding Finnish participation in the Holocaust was conducted by the Finnish National Archives following a public appeal from the Simon Wiesenthal Center to President Sauli Niinistö on May 31, 2018.  In response, the Finnish Prime Minister’s Office initiated an independent probe into the role of Finnish Waffen SS soldiers in the killing of Jews and civilians between the years 1941 and 1943.  The Secretary General of the Office of the President announced that any criminal activities uncovered during the investigation would be subject to possible prosecution.  The National Archives published the report on February 8, 2019, concluding that Finnish volunteers serving in the Wiking Division of Germany’s Waffen-SS between 1941 and 1943 “very likely” participated in the execution of Jewish people and other civilians, as well as prisoners of war on the eastern front.

Finland does not host any research institute specifically focused on the study of the Holocaust and genocide.  Finland maintains one public memorial site for victims of the Holocaust, located at Tähtitorninmäki Hill in central Helsinki.  The site honors eight people whom the Finnish police deported to Gestapo custody in Estonia and ultimately to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.  Only one man, Austrian citizen Georg Kollman, survived.  At the ceremony opening the memorial in 2000, Prime Minister Lipponen presented a public apology on behalf of the Finnish government and all Finns.

United Kingdom

Education, Remembrance, Research, and Memorial Sites

The UK joined the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in 1998 and was the first country to adopt the IHRA’s working definition of anti-Semitism in December 2016.  The UK government established an office dedicated to Holocaust issues in 2010.  In 2015, the government established the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission to recommend additional steps to ensure that the memory of the Holocaust is preserved.  The Commission was tasked with finding ways to ensure that every generation has the resources and access to survivor testimony to learn how the acceptance of hatred and discrimination led to the most horrific violence.  Then‑PM David Cameron established the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation to implement the commission’s recommendations.  These included a commitment to building a National Memorial to the Holocaust and Learning Centre in central London; the establishment of an endowment fund to ensure the continuation of Holocaust education; and the promise to audit, record, and safeguard the testimony of survivors and liberators.  The government committed £50 million ($64 million) for the construction of the memorial; additional funding was being sought for the construction of the learning center.  The total project estimate is £100 million ($129 million).  The government plans for both the memorial and the learning center to be built in Victoria Tower Gardens, adjacent to the Houses of Parliament in central London.  As of September 2019, there was no estimated date of completion for either project.

The UK has many memorials, trusts, charities, and education centers committed to the commemoration and education of the Holocaust.  The Holocaust Memorial in Hyde Park is dedicated to victims of the Holocaust, and International Holocaust Remembrance Day events have taken place there every January since 1983.  The Holocaust Educational Trust, established in 1988, works with educational bodies, Parliament, and the media to raise awareness and understanding of the Holocaust.  As a result of the Trust’s advocacy, in 1991, England became one of the first European countries to make Holocaust education part of the high school curriculum.  More than 39,500 students and teachers have participated in the trust’s Lessons from Auschwitz project, which includes a visit to Poland’s Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.  The Anne Frank Trust UK works to empower young people to challenge all forms of prejudice and discrimination via educational programs.  The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust is a charity established and funded by the UK government to promote and support International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.  In 2018, approximately 11,000 local activities took place across the country.  The permanent Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum tells the story of Nazi persecution of Jews and other groups before and during WWII.  The National Holocaust Centre and Museum in Nottinghamshire is believed to be the country’s only museum dedicated solely to the Holocaust.  It seeks to educate children about the Holocaust through an exhibit on children’s experiences entitled, The Journey.

The UK also has a number of leading teaching and research units.  Among them are University College London’s Center for Holocaust Education, which combines research with programs specifically designed to enable teachers to meet classroom needs and challenges, and the Holocaust Research Institute at Royal Holloway, University of London.

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