The Global Prevention of Genocide: Learning from the Holocaust

Salzburg Global Seminar (

At an international conference hosted by the Salzburg Global Seminar in Salzburg, Austria, from June 28 – July 3, 2010, made possible by a generous grant of 75,000 euros from the Austrian Future Fund, educators, NGOs, policy makers and other experts working in the fields of both Holocaust studies and genocide prevention gathered to consider the root cause of modern genocide and explore ways in which Holocaust education programs can be developed to effectively combat contemporary expressions of racism, anti-Semitism and ethnic conflict in different regions of the world.

The conference was initiated in the hope of using ideas generated by discussions to shape a long-term strategic plan for an annual program on Holocaust education and genocide prevention under the sponsorship of the Salzburg global Seminar, starting in 2011.

The point of departure was based upon the accepted agreement that many states have recognized the importance of teaching about the Holocaust and using it as a mechanism for preventing racism, ethnic conflict and genocide. A growing number of state mandates, as well as impressive private initiatives seek to achieve this.

Nevertheless, the question remains whether these programs and methods of teaching about the Holocaust can actually succeed in linking it with the prevention of ethnic conflict and genocide in today’s world. Are “traditional Holocaust education programs, which focus mainly on the Nazi system and ideology and their tragic effects on the millions of victims, an effective response to, or prophylactic against, the challenges faced by contemporary societies in terms of racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, intolerance and discrimination?

Do these education programs reveals the dangers inherent in societal stereotypes and prejudices and inoculate student against them? Does the teaching of the history of the Holocaust at classroom level sufficiently link it to the root cause of contemporary racism or ethnic conflict?

With the conference in 2010, the Salzburg Global Seminar launched a future initiative which will explore these questions and work with educators from targeted regions around the world to develop and implement Holocaust education programs that explicitly link teaching about the Holocaust with an in-depth examination of and confrontation with ethnic conflicts and racism that are experienced at the local level.

The project has an advisory board whose members include former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, Professor of Holocaust Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Yehuda Bauer, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide Francis Deng, Representative for Europe at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Klaus Müller, Founder and President of Genocide Watch Gregory Stanton, Director of the Museums Division of Yad Vashem Yehudit Inbar and President Emeritus for the Carnegie Corporation of New York David Hamburg.