At a Ministerial Conference in Auschwitz on the 2010 International Remembrance Day for the Victims of the Holocaust, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) will release the findings of the first ever EU-wide study on the role of historical sites and museums in teaching about the Holocaust and human rights. The report reveals that at historical sites and in schools across the EU, teaching about the Holocaust rarely includes discussion of related human rights issues. Teachers and guides are regarded as key to ensuring interest in the subject, yet there is a lack of human rights training on behalf of both groups. Based on the findings of its study, the FRA encourages national governments to better integrate human rights education into their school curricula to reflect the significance of human rights for both the history and the future of the EU.
"It is not enough to listen to a witness who is over 80 years old if you do not connect his/her experience to the present time, if you don't recognise there is still a deficit in human rights today." (Teacher, Focus Group, Milan)
FRA Director Morten Kjaerum: "The findings of our report reveal the importance attached to Holocaust education, democracy education and human rights education by governments throughout the EU. However, this is not sufficiently reflected in school curricula and links are not established between important historical events, like the Holocaust, and human rights. When this is achieved young people in the EU will be able to fully understand their past and go on to build a more united future."
"We have never had a lesson in human rights. Human rights aren't a subject in lessons; at most in theory, but not in practice." (Student, Focus group discussion, Berlin)
Many of the interviewed students stated that they would appreciate a stronger connection to the present in education activities about the Holocaust, both at school and at historical sites and museums. However, only one of the 22 surveyed Holocaust commemoration sites regarded informing people about human rights as its most important objective. Based on the findings of the study, the FRA is of the opinion that Holocaust education should go beyond the mere transmission of historical facts to include discussion and debate on past and present human rights issues.
Interviewed teachers appealed not only for financial support for visits to memorial sites, but also for guiding material on how to make best use of such visits. The FRA will publish a handbook for teachers on Holocaust education and human rights education, as well as a handbook to be used by memorial site staff, later in the year.
Based on the findings of its report, the Agency suggests that:
FRA Report "Discover the past for the future. A study on the role of historical sites and museums in Holocaust education and human rights education in the EU"
For further information please contact the FRA media team:
Tel.: +43 1 580 30 - 642
Notes to editors: