Learning from the past can help build a more inclusive society

Physical damage to a shopfront done by the Nazis during the "Kristallnacht" pogrom.
Physical damage to a shopfront done by the Nazis during the "Kristallnacht" pogrom.
In commemoration of the 1938 Night of Pogrom ‘Kristallnacht’, FRA points to the past to remind us of the need to protect and promote fundamental rights today.

“The history of antisemitism and Holocaust is an extreme example of the tragic consequences that a gradual and increasing denial of fundamental rights can lead to,” said FRA Director Morten Kjaerum. “Learning from the past, we must empower people to understand the significance of fundamental rights protection today. We can do this by turning the places of memorial for the past into places of ‘memorial for the future’. The Holocaust was a human-made tragedy – humans must therefore help heal the traumas of the past, and ensure a more inclusive society, based on respect for and understanding of fundamental rights.”

Some of the ways FRA has been supporting efforts to learn from the past, for human rights education today, has been the development of educational tools such as its recent toolkit on the Holocaust and human rights, and the co-organisation of seminars together with Holocaust memorial sites. The latest such seminar took place early November this year in Mauthausen, Austria.

Hate crime remains a regular occurrence in the European Union. A forthcoming FRA report on hate crime urges EU Member States to make more effort in collecting data on hate crime, which includes offences motivated by racism, xenophobia, and religious intolerance. For example, the report, which will be presented on 27 November, shows that only 12 of the 27 Member States gather data specifically related to antisemitic hate crime. In other countries, the data is under the general heading of racism and religiously motivated hate crime, making it difficult to determine the motivation behind such attacks. This can leave cases unreported and unresolved, preventing victims from seeking redress. Furthermore, to better understand the prevalence of antisemitism today, FRA will also publish its results of its online survey on the experiences and perceptions of antisemitism among self-identified Jewish people in nine EU Member States in 2013.

Background:

  • The 1938 Night of Pogrom "Kristallnacht" was a pogrom in Nazi Germany on 9-10 November 1938. Within a few hours, "Kristallnacht" saw the destruction of more than 200 synagogues, and tens of thousands of Jewish businesses and homes. Hundreds of people were murdered or driven to death. That night marked the beginning of the systematic extermination of Jews and served as a prelude to the Holocaust.