Learning from the Past - Promoting Pluralism and Countering Extremism




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Nov 30, 2016
by Chris Hamill-Stewart
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Learning from the Past - Promoting Pluralism and Countering Extremism

Long-running Salzburg Global series on Holocaust education and genocide prevention expands to examine countering extremism and promoting pluralism Learning from the Past: Promoting Pluralism and Countering Extremism

Eighty years since the first Jewish detainees were killed in the Dachau Concentration Camp, the world is still grappling with the question of how the Holocaust was able to happen. In the decades that followed, the political slogan “Never Again” has rung hollow in societies affected by other 20th century genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia and Rwanda. The question remains: How can genocide be prevented?

The Salzburg Global Seminar session Learning from the Past: Promoting Pluralism and Countering Extremism, part of the Salzburg Global series Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention, taking place December 1 to 3 at Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, Austria, will address this question in more expanded context than in previous programs to examine political extremism in countries across the world. Through a series of global and regional gatherings, and in partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Program has already engaged participants from more than 30 countries since its inauguration in 2010, the majority of which are outside the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, and many of which have a recent experience of mass atrocities.

Learning from the Past: Promoting Pluralism and Countering Extremism, with support from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, will bring together representatives from schools, museums, remembrance sites, and other institutions seeking to maximize their impact in combatting extremism. The session will focus on countries where recent mass atrocities or discrimination have made them particularly susceptible to a rise in extremism that threatens their communities, regions, and the world.

Participants will be encouraged to examine the history of the Holocaust as an example of what can happen when hatred goes unchecked and to search out contemporary connections, including the role played by anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance in the participating countries. They will use highly collaborative workshops to exchange expertise and experiences, drawing upon this to draft plans for their institutions’ development. 

“The participants coming to Salzburg for this session are looking for ways to reach out to the youth in their countries, particularly those who feel somehow marginalized,” says Salzburg Global Program Director Charles Ehrlich. “Those in rural, remote, or disadvantaged backgrounds are also particularly vulnerable – the session will help them learn the lessons of the past, and help them create a world and a future that they want to live in.”

This year’s session will lay the groundwork for the following year, in which peer advisory visits to participating countries will connect educators, activists, and others dedicated to preventing mass atrocities and genocide to advance knowledge exchange, test institutional development plans, and design long-term institutional strategies to combat extremism and its consequences. 

Scholars, educators and policy makers agree that Holocaust education can be an effective tool for educating students and the public about the importance of protecting democracy and human rights. Holocaust education helps to prevent racism and anti-Semitism, and promotes mutual respect between people of different races, religions, and cultures. This Salzburg Global session will be another important part of the process of using lessons learned from the Holocaust to turn “Never Again” from a political slogan, into a reality.

The Salzburg Global session Learning from the Past: Promoting Pluralism and Countering Extremism is part of the multi-year series Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention. The series is being hosted in partnership with The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and with support from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. More information on the session can be found here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/564