“Remember Holocaust – Building Bridges for a common future”
The Institute of Research & Training on European Affairs, as the lead organisation, together with the Community Enterprise of Thessaloniki (KEDITH), the European Foundation for Human Development, the Jugend, Bildung und Kultur EV organisation, the Municipality of Makrakomi and the Youth for Equality is implementing, , the “Remember Holocaust – Building Bridges for a common future “ project which is funded by the Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Union.
The project focuses on the remembrance of the Jews Holocaust and aims to foster the understanding of the past while strengthening the dialogue about the future of the European Union. Through its activities, the project seeks to raise awareness on remembrance, highlight the Union values of solidarity, tolerance and peace and also to promote awareness about civic participation and intercultural engagement.
Taking the extermination of Jews as starting point, the project also aims to commemorate its victims and enhance tolerance towards diversity. The consortium of the project comprises of 4 youth organizations located in Greece, Poland, Germany and Slovakia and 2 Greek Municipalities, which all of them shares a common historical point where the local population has been victimized by the anti-Semitism wave and suffered great loses during the WWII.
The activities of the project will be carried out in four European countries with the active participation of young people and include interactive Workshops, a Structured Dialogue activity, a Human Library, a Digitalized Exhibition of Holocaust history and volunteering activities. The “Remember Holocaust – Building Bridges for a common future” project is expected to affect directly more than 500 participants as well as around 2500 people indirectly. The desirable impact of the project is to inspire young people by empowering them to be more active, civic aware and tolerant and by challenging them on issues of inclusion, tolerance and elimination of discrimination.
More information about the project are available at the website http://rememberholocaust.eu/
and the Facebook page
“REMEMBER HOLOCAUST – BUILDING BRIDGES FOR A COMMON FUTURE” KICK-OFF ONLINE MEETING
The Institute of Research & Training on European Affairs- I.R.T.E.A hosted the Kick- Off online meeting of the project “Remember Holocaust – Building Bridges for a common future”, funded by the EU Programme ‘Europe for Citizens’. The online meeting took place on Friday, 2nd of October 2020 through the ZOOM digital platform and was attended by representatives of the partner organisations, young people and students, representatives from the Jewish community and the civil society.
During the event, the project and its forthcoming activities were presented to the audience as well as a presentation of the partnering organisations and their role to the project. A discussion about the involvement of the attendants to the project and questions about the content of the activities also took place setting the frame for the project implementation.
The first part of the project “Remember Holocaust – Building Bridges for a common future” was an interactive and very interesting online workshop “Remember the past – React for the future” which was held on the platform Zoom. The project is focusing on the remembrance of the Jews Holocaust and aims to foster the understanding of the past while strengthening the dialogue about the future of the European Union. It’s co-founded by the Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Union.
The main aim of the workshop was to draw participants’ attention to the paradigm of Holocaust, how the Nazi-fascist crimes were rooted in that ideology, and how its debris still affects people towards stereotypes, prejudices and xenophobia.
The workshop consisted of two parts of 115 minutes each, divided by a 15-minute break after the first half.
The implementation of the workshop as an online version via Zoom was in our opinion a success. Through the call for participation in social media, we were able to reach more than 80 participants from the partner countries Greece, Germany, Slovakia and Poland.
As a positive side effect of holding the event in online format, the spontaneous and short-term participation favored the participants and made it possible to join or leave the workshop later or earlier if necessary. However, the participants were so interested in the topic and the workshop that hardly anyone took advantage of this opportunity.
Technical problems such as background noise were communicated quickly and solved by switching off the unused microphones.
The participants were very interested in hearing and exchanging opinions and views from people from the other countries. In the current corona situation, the possibility to access digital resources is very important. However, this also has some limitations. Since the group of participants was quite large, it was unfortunately not possible to see all participants on one screen. In addition, the view was even more restricted when using the presentation mode, making it difficult to exchange information on a personalized level. Nevertheless, a great number of participants were willing to participate in the discussions, share their opinions and explore the past and present through the caricatures and images that Stefano presented.
From an organizational point of view, we have achieved the goals set. We are able to draw the attention of young people from all over the world to the paradigm of the Holocaust. We involved the participants in discussions about what we can learn from the past and how we can find ideology from the past in the present in the same or slightly different form. We talked about different forms of racist propaganda, about how to identify it in the picture or meme in the social media. Together we thought about the effect of picture/mem/poster through interactive online activities and talked about values like dignity, freedom, diversity and integration.
Our trainer Stefano Merzi did a very professional and intensive job and was always able to motivate the participants to participate actively in the discussion. He created a very good working atmosphere and captivated the interest of the participants.
Together with the participants he analyzed caricatures in an interesting and deep discussion and also talked about nower days politics and the situation in the world.
The first session started with a general introduction of the project, followed by a presentation of the trainer and his work on memory and youth education on a memory site. Due to the large group of participants, the possibility to have a round of get to know was bypassed and substituted by the question “Did you visit any memory site connected with Holocaust and Nazi crimes? When and in which form?”. Those who answered often took the opportunity to mention their personal connection with the topic. Since the majority of the participants apparently visited memory sites as part of their school curricula, and some mentioned that in their countries it represents a mandatory school trip, the following group reflection was centered on the importance of memory. “Why do we remember those tragic events?”. Different people gave slightly different answers, underlining a wide range of causes for the European remembrance of the Holocaust. From memory as a duty towards those who lost their lives, to the memory work perceived as a tool to prevent similar horrors to happen again. The following step was then to reflect on why, despite all the institutional efforts and the many initiatives aimed at realizing that “never again” European countries promised themselves after the end of second WWII, we observe more and more an increasing of right-wing extremism, both in the form of political parties on the rise, and in the form of attacks to minorities and racist behaviors.
Many participants attributed this apparent contradiction to the fact that empathy for the victims is not always followed by a self-critique on your own behaviors, as if the condemn of the Nazi-regime doesn’t necessary lead to the recognition of similar mechanism in contemporary societies. The suggestion was then to deepen our analysis, examining form of propaganda. If we understand how people were manipulated in order to accept and even empower systemic discrimination back then, it may help us recognize similar dynamics in our present. Keeping in mind that to understand doesn’t mean at all to justify.
The workshop on propaganda consisted of an analysis of different propaganda materials from the years ‘35-’44, most of which caricatures produced in Nazi Germany and aimed at German people, but we discussed also antisemitic propaganda created in the same time-span in fascist Italy and USA. The latter was a useful reminder that democratic states are not immune to racism and introduced the topic “conspiracy theory”, useful as a bridge to the next session.
The second session, dedicated to the analysis of the same mechanisms in nowadays media, saw the participants deconstructing memes and comic strips. Participants identified several forms of discrimination such as xenophobia, antisemitism and discrimination based on gender. They often had different ideas, and the reflection highlighted how difficult it is to recognize racism when it is not openly political propaganda, such as a party’s manifesto or a speech by a politician. The use of irony, especially in memes, was evaluated as particularly dangerous since it can make it harder for the audience to actively decode racist implications.
The conclusions focused on what can be done to reduce discriminatory behaviors, as a way to move towards a more inclusive society based on respect for human rights. Many participants agreed on the importance of self-vigilance, because the first step is to be aware of your own stereotypes and prejudices. Some of them also mentioned the need of a careful choose on which content we decide to share on our media and communication, in order to avoid the spread of unintended racist ideas.
All in all, one can say that the online workshop was a complete success, the participants actively participated and are very interested in the topic. They led interesting discussions and exchanged a lot of knowledge and views with the help of Stefanos moderation and input. Many of them are excited about the next parts of the project “Remember Holocaust – Building Bridges for a common future” and are looking forward to them.
Remember Holocaust – Structured dialogue in Slovakia
4th December 2020 at 12:00 CET
An online structure dialogue activity between policy makers of National Council of the Slovak Republic, Museum of Jewish culture and a holocaust survivor, representative of Comenius University, NGO and young people took place under the coordination of the project partner Youth for Equality, as part of the project “Remember Holocaust- Building Bridges for a common future”.
During the Structured Dialogue, the participants discussed the causes of anti-semitism that resulted in the Holocaust with the current trends of discrimination and racism that arise within the society.