UNESCO Russian Prize Winners
On 5 July 2007, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre-Europe, Verbe et Lumiere-Vigilance and UNESCO co-sponsored the ceremony of the Third Annual Russian Universities Essay Competition on the Holocaust at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The five winners are, each year, invited to Paris, and their papers are published by UNESCO.
5th Holocaust Writing Contest in Russia
“Today, my classmates and I watched Children from the Abyss, by Pavel Chukhray. This film tells how 65 years ago millions of Jews perished: old people and children, women and men, talented and average… They rejoiced in the sun and wind, fell in love and argued, expected and raised children—in short, lived. Maybe they even dreamt of leaving their legacy in history… None of them thought, however, this legacy would be one of a Holocaust victim.”
This quote, from an essay entitled To Remember in Order to Live, is written by Dmitrii Suvorov, a 16-year-old student from Moscow. Suvorov is one of the winners of the 5th Annual Holocaust Writing Contest, organized by the Russian Holocaust Center in Moscow. The awards ceremony, part of a larger event recognizing the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, took place at the Writers’ House in Moscow on January 27, 2007.
The contest awards prizes in various categories. One category is dedicated to Children from the Abyss, a Russian-language documentary produced by the USC Shoah Foundation Institute in which Holocaust survivors detail their experiences of the mass executions in Russia and Eastern Europe, and which probes the issues of resistance, betrayal, and rescue. Approximately 700 students in Russia viewed the film in 2006, and 120 shared their reaction to it in an essay submitted to the contest.
The contestants included students and teachers from 10 countries. In addition to Suvorov’s first prize award in this category, Aleksandra Kupro from Cherniakhovsk, Russia and Aleksei Gorin from Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia, received recognition as the 2nd and 3rd place winners.
Feliks Dukhovny, Institute Regional Consultant in Russia, and Pavel Chukhraj, director of Children from the Abyss, attended the ceremony. “It is important for young people in Russia, and students in particular, to learn about the events of the Holocaust and to have the opportunity to digest the information and react to it in words,” said Dukhovny.
“The collaboration between the Institute and the Russian Holocaust Center is very important for our Center,” said Dr. Ilya Altman, Co-Chairman, Russian Holocaust Center. “Children from the Abyss is a powerful film, and students clearly react to it, many of them through writing an essay for the contest. I look forward to working with the Institute to build relationships with more educators in Russia, so that additional students can be reached.”
Electronic newsletter in English
The Research and Information Newsletter HOLOCAUST, which is published in Russian on a quarterly basis, first appeared in 1994. The last English version of the newsletter (No.24) was printed at the summer of 2005. This issue contains anoverview of the most significant facts of the study and teaching of Holocaust history in Russia and of research and educational projects in 2005/06. It also includes information about new books devoted to Holocaust history and printed in 2006 in the former Soviet Union. Much attention in this newsletter is focused on the status and prospects of our international cooperation. Traditionally, we present the most notable project of our colleagues from the Ukraine and Belarus. All organizations, scholars, and teachers who are interested in our activities Are warmly invited to closer cooperation.
General Assembly adopts resolution condemning any denial of Holocaust
United States Representative Says to Deny Events Of Holocaust Tantamount to Approval of Genocide in All Its Forms The General Assembly today adopted by consensus a resolution condemning, without reservation, any denial of the Holocaust, with the United States, among the text’s 103 sponsors, stressing that to deny the events of the Holocaust -- one of the most tragic moral catastrophes in history -- “was tantamount to approval of genocide in all its forms”. Reaffirming its landmark resolution of 1 November 2005 rejecting efforts to deny the Holocaust based on the conviction that ignoring the historical fact of those terrible events increased the risk of their being repeated, the Assembly urged all Member States to unreservedly reject any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part, or any activities towards that end. The United Nations has designated 27 January as the annual International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. More...
Yom Shoah in St. Petersburg
The Day of Remembrance for Jewish victims of the Holocaust and heroes of the Resistance (Yom Shoah) was also marked in Russia’s ‘Northern Capital’ on April 26-27. A number of events was organised at this event, namely by the Israeli Cultural Centre in St. Petersburg with the support of the city administration and the local branch of the ‘Joint Distribution Committee’. The first of the two days received wide attention in St. Petersburg. Amongst the organised meetings on the occasion was a Round Table on “Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia – The Role of Mass Media” at the Institute of Regional Press. Alla Gerber, President of the “Holocaust” Foundation, and Aleksandr Brod, director of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights, both participated with presentations. An international scientific-practical conference took place the same evening at the House of Nationalities, jointly organised by the Holocaust Center and a number of partners (city administration, ‘Herzen’ University, Israeli Cultural Centre, etc.). The discussion, which drew more than 60 scientists, teachers and students, centered on “The Holocaust: Remembrance and Warning”, introduced by several speeches on different aspects (e.g. The Kremlin and the Jewish Question during the War by R. Ganelin of the Russian History Institute; Ilya Altman from the Holocaust Center on perspectives of researching the Holocaust on the territory of the USSR; etc.) of the topic. The evening was dedicated to the Jewish victims and resistance fighters in a remembrance ceremony at the building of the Jewish Community Centre. Former ghetto inmates shared their memories with the people present. Alla Gerber and Marat Boguslavski (Embassy of Israel) underlined the imperative to save those and all other memories of the Holocaust. The ceremony was closed with a theater performance “Children and the Holocaust”.
Summer Session of Holocaust Teachers
Between June 29 and July 2, 2006, the seventh annual session for teachers having taken part in International courses of teacher training on the Holocaust took place in the Moscow region. Such sessions have been realised every year starting from 2000 on the basis of an agreement between the Russian “Holocaust” Center and the International School of “Yad Vashem”. This year the “Tkuma” Center (Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine) joined in the organisation of the seminar. The session was carried out with the support of the Claims Conference, ICHEC (both USA) and the Joods Humitair Fonds (Netherlands). 40 people from Russia and other CIS countries took part in this event. The majority of Russian participants came from regions that had never been subject to occupation during World War II (e.g. the list of the teachers’ respective home towns includes Yekaterinburg, Norilsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Yoshkar-Ola, Vladimir, Moscow, the Novosibirsk region, Petersburg and Krasnoyarsk). Because of that their interest in the problematic of the Holocaust probably cannot simply be explained by reasons of “local significance” (as for teachers from Pskov region for example), but rather by a profound wish to understand how it became possible to carry out murder on such a scale and what needs to be done to prevent this from happening again. For the first time, this session also attracted seven people teaching on university level. One of the basic reasons for this teacher training session is the opportunity to share one’s experience, ideas and methods of teaching Holocaust history in schools and universities of Russia in this framework. Apart from that and as a motivation check, participants received urgent assignments during the courses – they had to choose and devise, having only materials that had been handed out on seminars amongst the means to draw from, a lecture they would give their students either on the Holocaust, on Baby Yar or on the Righteous among the Nations. Taking into consideration the limitation of the materials and the short period of time (3 hours) to prepare a presentation, the teachers succeeded in creating great little lectures excellently tailored for classroom use.
Contest Winners of ’06 in Paris
Last week finally was the time for five Russian students – winners of the Russian “Holocaust” Center’s annual International Contest “Lessons of the Holocaust – A Way to Tolerance” – to go on a trip to the French capital, organised by the Wiesenthal Center and Verbe et Lumiere. The trip itself was the prize for five of the best students from different cities of Russia: Natalja Beldy (St. Petersburg), Elvira Churyumova from Elista, Dmitry Raykonen (Veliky Novgorod) and the two Muscovites Mikhail Matveev and Dmitry Dozorets all dedicated their works to the course and the result of the Nuremberg Trial in the context of contemporary approaches towards opposition against racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia.
On June 22, it was exactly 65 years ago that the Germans attacked the Soviet Union and the war known as the Great Patriotic War started. It is also the date for the annual International Children’s Conference on the Holocaust in Brest. The conference, which will last until Saturday, has some 30 pupils attending, who have shown excellence in the Center’s International Contest. The opening ceremony of the conference took place on Thursday at 4:00 o’clock am, remembering the day and the hour of the attack; the rest of the time, the students from Russia, Ukraine and Byelorussia will present their papers to the audience and discuss their topics with each other.
Progress Report of the Annual International Contest
The IV International Contest ended last November, with the winners being announced on January 27 during the Center’s ceremony remembering the liberation of Auschwitz. Now, almost half a year later, the five best students are going to get their prizes – they will be going on a trip to Paris from July 3 - 8, accompanied by the Center’s Co-Chairman Ilya Altman. Apart from some sight seeing and taking in the city, the five students (N. Beldy from St. Petersburg, D. Raykonen from Veliky Novgorod, E. Churyumova from Elista, D. Dozorets and M. Matveev from Moscow) will also participate in a meeting with UNESCO officials at the organisation’s headquarters and present their award winning works at the office of the foundation sponsoring the trip, ‘Verbe et Lumiere – Vigilance’. The Contest (“Lessons of the Holocaust – A Way to Tolerance”), meanwhile, has entered its V round and the Holocaust Center has already received a number of works by pupils, students and teachers, from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Belorussia. We remind you that the deadline for submitting an original work to the Contest will be on November 1, more information about participating can be found on this website. The series accompanying the results of the Contest, “We cannot keep silent – Children on the Holocaust” will see a third volume added to it, which is being prepared and compiled for publishing at the moment. Teachers who provided support for their students in writing texts for the Contest have been invited to come to Summer Session of the Center’s long-distance learning courses in the end of June/beginning of July. At the same time, the most outstanding teachers will be sent to Yad Vashem for a further training internship.
Third Seminar for Teachers from Jewish Schools in the CIS and the Baltics
Between May 15 and 17, the third Seminar for Teachers from Jewish Schools took place near Moscow. It was organised by the Russian Holocaust Center, with the support of Russian Jewish and educational partners and the Claims Conference. The driving force behind the establishment of such seminars in Russia, the first of which was held in 2001, was Jerry Hochbaum of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, situated in New York. Teachers who took part in the seminar represented Jewish schools from Russia (Moscow, St. Petersburg, and 8 other cities from Smolensk to Yekaterinburg) and Ukraine (Kiev and 3 more cities). Moscow itself was represented by 4 schools alone. The programme included the following lectures and presentations:
“Teaching the History of the Holocaust”-Conference in Belorussia
Byelorussia hosted the III International Conference-Seminar on Teaching and Researching the History of the Holocaust between March 28 and 30. This event is prepared annually under the initiative of the International Task Force, which sent Jerry Gotel from the UK as its representative, and Jack Kagan (London), who legendarily took part in the flight from the Novogrudka ghetto, near the premises of which the conferences are now taking place. The local organisation committee was set up by the Museum of Local History of the city and the Foundation “Holocaust” of the Byelorussian Republic, receiving active support by the city administration. Speakers for the event included members of staff at the Russian and the Ukrainian Holocaust Centers and Yad Vashem, as well as representatives of local educational establishments. About 40 pedagogues from all over Byelorussia attended the lectures on Jewish history, anti-Semitism, the differences of the Holocaust on the territory of the USSR compared to regions in the west, etc. The Round Table on the problems of Holocaust education proved to be of special interest to the teachers involved, as did the visits in Holocaust related places in the city of Novogrudka, which because of the work of Jewish partisans saw about 150 people fleeing the ghetto through tunnels during the war. All participants received a package with textbooks published by the Russian Holocaust Center.
Lectures in Memory of F. Sverdlov
On May 23 the III Annual Scientific Lectures on Jewish Heroism during WWII took place at the premises of the Holocaust Center. The Lectures are dedicated to the memory of Dr. Fyodor Sverdlov (1921-2002), author of books about Jewish Heroes of the Soviet Union, cavaliers of the Order of Honour, generals and fighters who received distinction in battle. Shortly after his death his fundamental “Encyclopaedia of Jewish Heroism” was released. All seats in the Holocaust Center’s lecturing hall being occupied gives an impression of the attention the problems Sverdlov covered in his (scientific) works receive even today. The audience, composed of people from all walks of life, from students and teachers to former ghetto inmates and war veterans, heard several reports on aspects of his writings. Semyon Dodik, former prisoner in a ghetto and later during the war a partisan fighter, talked, amongst other things, about the different terms used in popular and scientific literature over time to label Jewish heroism. Leonid Piatetski, school and university teacher and also heading the Holocaust Center’s educational department, commented on his lessons on Jewish resistance and stated that the names and pictures of Jewish heroes of the resistance (A. Pecherskiy, M. Bruskinaya) had vanished out of school books while they were present under Soviet rule – a sign that this chapter of history needs attempts of covering not less than the Holocaust in Russia. Some people also just told the audience about their relations with Sverdlov and characterised him as a talented teacher, a great friend and a charming and cheerful member of society. The lectures dedicated to him and his work will be repeated next May.
Yom Shoah Memorial Event in Moscow
The Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Center and the Russian Holocaust Foundation organised an evening of remembrance on April 25 “Yom Shoah” in the Big Hall of the Central House of Cinema. The gathering has been carried out annually since 1992 and is dedicated to the memory of the Jewish victims of the Nazis in the Second World War as well as to the Jewish members of Resistance fighting the occupiers. Opening the event, Holocaust Foundation President Alla Gerber underlined its significance in the light of growing xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism in contemporary Russia.
Professor Yefim Gologorski, former ghetto inmate and President of the International Union of Jews, painted a picture about the suffering and the resistance of Jews in the ghetto in his speech, followed by Albert Tsesarski, doctor of the legendary partisan group “Pobeditely” (Winners; under the command of the “Hero of the Soviet Union” Medvedev), who, addressing the audience, spoke about some of the happier episodes of these years as when his group succeeded in saving Jews and the participation of some of them in fighting.
The most exciting part of the evening was then arguably the ceremony of honouring new “Righteous Among the Nations”, a title awarded by the State of Israel to people who saved Jews from persecution, risking their own life in the process. In 2006 the Ambassador of the State of Israel to Russia Arkadi Mil-Man presented such documents to three Russian citizens (posthumously):
Other speakers at the event included Alexandr Torshin (Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council), Vyacheslav Kantor (President of the Russian Jewish Congress), Victor Ross (representing Poland) and famour chess player Garri Kasparov, who in their speeches stressed the importance of saving the memory of what happened in the Holocaust and of those who perished and of the imperative for society to resist all movements that exploit prejudices and feelings of xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism.
The evening, which was organised in cooperation with a number of major Jewish organisations based in Moscow or Russia as a whole, received wide media coverage, reaching from TV channels to Russian and Israeli newspapers, hopefully a sign that such remembrance events are moving away from being especially interesting only for people personally touched by the Holocaust.
Almost all leading Jewish organisations of Russia agreed after long negotiations to join forces for one big memorial event. We hope that next Yom Shoah we will indeed have all Jewish organisations pull together
Press Release, 27.01.06
January 27, 2006 – the results and winners of the Fourth International Contest “Remembering the Holocaust – A Way to Tolerance”
More than 500 works from 10 different countries have been submitted to the contest. The winners of the contest were honoured in a ceremony, hosted by the Russian Holocaust Center’s Co-Chairperson Alla Gerber, and awarded their prizes. More...
Austrian Teachers visiting the Russian Holocaust Foundation
On Tuesday, August 30 2005, a group of 30 Austrian teachers visited the RHF together with their guide Dr. Kurt Scharr, a former volunteer at the Foundation. They were welcomed by Alla Gerber, who in a brief talk described the purpose of this organisation and outlined some of its achievements over the past 10 years of its existence. A discussion followed, concerning some of the distinctive features of the Holocaust on the occupied territories on the USSR.
Expedition to the Pskov Region
On April 26th in the Center “Holocaust” a meeting with Gert Weisskirchen a specialist of the OBSE to problems of Anti-semitism and deputy of the German Bundestag took place. The president of the Russian Holocaust Foundation was telling about the activity to counteraction Anti-semitism in contemporary Russia and the threat of Neo-nazism and Xenophobia. The Co-chairman of the Russian Research and Educationel Center “Holocaust” Ilya Altman emphasized the meaning of an International cooperation, educational and scientific programs to the topic of Holocaust as a realistic countersteering to Anti-semitism in Russia. Both sides agreed to continue the advisery of the participation of students, scholars and teachers from Germany in mutual contests, conferences and study trips. A big interest caused a proposal from the Russian side concerning the organizetion of a conference in Nuernberg in 2006 with the winners of our International contest dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the Nuernberg process. The 1st secretary of the German embassy in Moscow, Mrs. Sibylla Bendig also took part in this meeting. Our guests also visited our new documentary photo exhibition by Robert Diament about the Second World War, that was opened at the same day in the Center “Holocaust”.
Internship in Yad Vashem
For the following time on March 20th a group of Russian teachers is being send to Yad Vashem, Israel, for a 2-week-workshop. For the first time authors of basical handbooks to domestic history, among them Oleg Volobuev, Aleksandr Danilov and Sergey Kozlenko, are participating at the workshop. Furthermore pedagogues from Velikoj Novgorod, Voronez, Volgograd, Pskov, Joshkar-Ola, Ivanovo, Kaliningrad, Korolev, Monchegorsk, Niznij Novgorod and also Grodno (Byelorussia) are participating at this event. All of them, as well as three pedagogues from Moscow, took part in seminars of the Holocaust-Center and actively participated in international competitions to the topic. They also have experience with local institutions to improve qualifications. On March 15th in the Center Holocaust the members of the “War-historical Club” (this name was created by the members of this Club) met in the Center Holocaust. They discussed the question of the course of the operation to the liberation of Eastern Prussia in 1945 and their consequences for the course of the war. The following meeting will be on April 19th.
Kurt Scharr’s presentation of the book about Irene Harand, Austrian member of Resistance
On February 11th 2005 year Kurt Scharr, professor at the University of Innsbruck and former volunteer at the Fond Holocaust, presented his book “Gegen Rassenhass und Menschennot” that was written in cooperation with Christian Kloesch and Erika Weinzierl. The book presents the life and the work of the mostly unknown Austrian member of Resistance Irene Harand (1900 -1975). Christian Kloesch, Kurt Scharr and Erika Weinzierl write about her life on the basis of hardly accessible materials from archives in Moscow, New York and Vienna. Irene Harand – founder of the “Weltverband gegen Rassenhass und Menschennot” (“World union against race hatred and need of people”), publisher of the weekly appearing anti-Nazi Journal “Gerechtigkeit” (“Justice”), writer of the offensive paper against Hitler “Sein Kampf – Antwort an Hilter” and one of the inititators of the Oesterreichischen Volkspartei (Austrian peoples party) – was since 1933 in unrestable engagement to warn people of the upcoming Nazi danger. As the Nazis surprisingly entered Austria in march 1938, Irene Harand having summit talks with politicians in effort to assure Austrias independence. After these talks she was not able to come back to Austria and continued her work in exile in New York.
Memorial evening to the 60 years liberation of Auschwitz
On January 27th 2005 the Fond Holocaust organized a memorial evening to the 60 years liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army. In the course of the memorial event the Fond Holocaust awarded the winners of the 3rd International competition under the topic “Lessons of Holocaust – a way to tolerance”. About 450 works, from 8 countries and 39 regions of Russia, were handed in. The winners of the current competition came from Kaliningrad, Ekaterinburg, Pskov, Arkhangelsk, Volgograd, Vladimir, Voronez, Moscow and other regions of Russia and the former CIS. The ambassador of Israel in Russia, Arkadi Mil-Man, the ambassador of Germany in Russia, Dr. Hans-Friedrich von Ploetz as well as the minister for foreign affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov. The prices were handed in by the professor of MGU Aleksander Asmolov, the winner of the Nobel-price Vitalij Ginsberg and director of the presentation of UNESCO in Russia Filip Keo. The winners of the competition were invited to an official reception to Paris by the general director of the UNESCO. The evening was carried out by the Fond Holocaust in cooperation with the government of Moscow, the Embassy of Israel in Russia, the Federation of Jewish society in Russia, the Jewish Agency in Russia and the Mikhoels-Center.
© Russian Holocaust Center, 2003-2007