The association erinnern.at (dedicated to keeping the memory of national socialism and the Holocaust alive) is a project initiated by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Art and Culture designed for teachers at Austrian schools.
Its goal is to promote the transfer of historic and methodical/didactic knowledge and illustrate the relevance of this knowledge to the present. Students are supposed to both learn and be ethically sensitized.
The project has been divided into different levels on which the topics of national socialism and the Holocaust are discussed:
- The decentralized networks in individual federal states collaborate on the local/regional level.
- Seminars form the basis of discussion on the national level.
- Seminars in Israel illustrate the dimensions of international discourse.
- Developing teaching materials in cooperation with experts from the fields of research and didactics.
- Intensifying the structuring the discussion on national socialism and the Holocaust in the educational sector
- Studying the Holocaust and the phenomenon of national socialism must be relevant to the students’ current lives without making the topic random by pedagogizing the issue.
- Teachers of all subjects at all types of schools
- Principles for teachers to follow
In order to help them develop their values further, students must be taken seriously in their capacity as individuals who independently acquire historical awareness.
As a consequence, it will be particularly important to evaluate the students’ group activities and discuss the results with the respective groups.
Memory with a future
"We could speak of the numerous events and seminars held in the first ten years and of the hundreds of participants on the seminar tours to Yad Vashem in Israel. We could congratulate ourselves and rejoice in our strong regional networks and national partnerships. It is easy to be euphoric when you have managed the first ten years. But we could also lament the unfinished business and the many challenges we had to face up to in the last ten years and will doubtless face in the next ten years.
It is easy to be disappointed at not having managed everything in those ten years. And in fact our project is at a turning point, involving a number of major challenges: The second postwar generation has long grown up – and even the third generation is turning many of us, who still see ourselves in the prime of life, into grandparents. Everywhere memories threaten to fade.
Their preservation is the driving force behind all our activities. So the time has come to take our bearings for remembering and learning about the Holocaust and National Socialism in the wide field of ethics, education, and historical narrative and interpretation: What can our work do – and what do we want it to do – for those who were born more than sixty years after the end of the war?
In the last ten years, the work of all the partners of erinnern. at has made a valuable contribution to serious teaching and quality education in Austrian schools. It has empowered numerous teachers as highly qualified ambassadors of memory and remembrance and shown generation after generation of pupils a path – not always easy and sometimes very difficult and painful – to a part of their history at the collective and individual levels.
A sense of responsibility, the desire to act with circumspection instead of turning away, and the need to keep testing oneself step by step – that is the motivation behind our activities, which has enabled much to be achieved in the first ten years of erinnern.at. In the next few years the generation change among teachers will gather speed. Equipping young teachers with the necessary knowledge, methods and materials for successful learning about National Socialism and the Holocaust, preferably during their training already, is one of the major tasks ahead – for the next ten years.
We would like to express our especial esteem and gratitude to Peter Niedermair, a co-founder of erinnern.at, who played a key role for many years in establishing our institution and did great service in developing the erinnern. at community. We would also like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude and esteem for the Austrian National Fund for Victims of National Socialism for being so helpful and also generous in their financial support for so many projects over the years."
Martina Mascke, Manfed Wirtitsch, Barbara Schätz, Werner Dreier