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History of IHRA

Since its inception in 1998, the IHRA has come a long way. Its history is outlined below in the Timeline. 

7 May 1998

IHRA is established in Stockholm through the initiative of former Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson. In conjunction with the Stockholm meeting on the Holocaust and "Tell Ye Your Children" of the Living History Project, Persson proposed to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair of the UK as well as former US President Bill Clinton that their countries join an effort to foster international cooperation on disseminating information about the Holocaust.

Government delegations from the USA, UK and Sweden held their first talks in the presence of Professor Yehuda Bauer. He was asked to become an independent Academic Advisor to this new international body.

At the conclusion of this meeting, it was agreed to "collaborate closely with NGOs and others active in disseminating knowledge about the Holocaust" as well as to "focus international cooperation on Holocaust educational activities, public activities, testimonies of survivors, to find proper ways to reach out to young people, to launch a global survey on Holocaust education to be presented in national reports and cooperation on how to use the Internet in connection with these activities."

It was decided that decisions taken by the IHRA would be done in consensus.

25 September 1998

Second Working Group meeting of the IHRA held at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington DC. In addition to Sweden, the UK and USA, two new delegations also participated in the meeting: Germany and Israel.

Chairmanship of the IHRA, now five member states, was passed from Sweden to the USA.

The Working Group agreed that the focus of the IHRA should include remembrance and research in addition to education, so adopted the full formal title of IHRA for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research.

There was agreement on a set of deliverables to be presented at the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets, including a directory of organizations involved in Holocaust education; an insert to the Swedish book "Tell Ye Your Children"; a guide to archival material; a set of suggested Holocaust education guidelines; a proposal for an International Day of Remembrance; a declaration on archival openness and a declaration on promoting Holocaust education.

Conference calls were organized among the five member countries every two weeks in an effort to coordinate efforts and review progress prior to the next meeting.

3 December 1998

Third Working Group meeting of the IHRA held at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in conjunction with the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets.

During this meeting, the following declaration was issued: "Holocaust education, remembrance and research strengthen humanity's ability to absorb and learn from the dark lessons of the past, so that we can ensure that similar horrors are never again repeated."

The declaration also noted that "we are committing our countries to encourage parents, teachers, and civic, political and religious leaders to undertake with renewed vigor and attention Holocaust education, remembrance and research, with a special focus on our own countries' histories." Other countries were called upon to strengthen their efforts in these fields and to undertaken new ones where necessary.

A declaration on archival openness and access was also issued, calling upon governments to join the IHRA "in endorsing the importance of full archival openness, and in undertaking to work toward the goal of making all documentation bearing on the Holocaust and the fate of Nazi-confiscated assets available to researchers. The adoption of December 31, 1999, as a target date to meet this goal will reinforce the commitment of humanity to learn from the history of this century as we enter a new millennium."

The first product of cooperation under the IHRA, an International Directory of Organizations in Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, was distributed at this meeting and subsequently made available on the IHRA website. This was compiled under the leadership of the United States and Sweden with assistance from Israel and Germany.

Enlargement of the IHRA was discussed in detail since countries such as the Netherlands, France, Poland, Italy as well as others had expressed interest, either officially or informally, in joining.

At this meeting, Sweden announced its intention to host a conference that would "figure prominently on the IHRA agenda" in late 1999 or early 2000.

8-9 March 1999

Fourth meeting of the IHRA held at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. Eight national delegations were present at this IHRA meeting, including new member states: the Netherlands, Poland and France (observer status).

This two-day meeting included discussions about creating an endowment fund and a proposal for field missions (later to be commonly referred within IHRA circles as "liaison projects"). The first proposed field mission pilot outreach project was to be done in cooperation with the Czech Republic.

25 June 1999

Fifth meeting of the IHRA held in London attended by eight delegations (France was an observer). The meeting agenda included a detailed discussion proposed by the delegation of the Netherlands on liaison projects.

The first invitation to the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust, January 26-28, 2000 was circulated among meeting participants.

July 1999

An editorial group for IHRA information projects was established, chaired by Wesley Fisher of the USHMM. In effect, this was the first-ever Working Group established under the IHRA umbrella.

6-8 October 1999

"Phenomenon Holocaust," an international conference held in Prague and in Terezin, was attended by members of IHRA delegations and the IHRA Academic Advisor.

Former Czech President Václav Havel addressed the conference participants, and following these proceedings the Czech Republic became the first liaison project of the IHRA (lead country, the Netherlands).

13-14 October 1999

Sixth meeting of the IHRA organized by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Yad Vashem, and held in Jerusalem in conjunction with the Second International Conference on Holocaust Education at the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem.

As agreed by consensus under the UK Chairman, this conference for educators was held under the auspices of the IHRA. Representatives from nine countries attended this two-day meeting, including a representative from the Italian Ministry of Education.

By this time, eight additional countries had expressed interest in liaison projects with IHRA member states, including: Argentina (lead country, USA); Lithuania (lead country, UK); Latvia (lead country, Sweden); Romania (lead countries, Israel, France) and Slovakia (lead country, Germany).

During this meeting, it was also decided that the Chairmanship would be extended to one year rather than rotating every few months. Due to the upcoming Stockholm Forum proceedings, it was decided that Sweden would chair the IHRA from December 1, 1999 - February 28, 2000. It was agreed that Germany would chair the IHRA from March 1, 2000.

26-28 January 2000

The Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust was held, bringing together high-ranking political leaders and officials from more than forty countries to meet with civic and religious leaders, survivors, educators, historians and others who have dedicated their work to promote Holocaust education, commemoration and research.

Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel served as the Forum's honorary Chairman and Professor Yehuda Bauer was the senior Academic Advisor to the forum.

The Stockholm Declaration, drafted by IHRA delegates, was signed by participating countries at the closing session of this conference. A copy of the declaration can be found under the “Stockholm Declaration” tab.

In addition, at the IHRA delegates meeting within the framework of this international gathering in Stockholm, the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggested that it would oversee the newly established IHRA endowment fund. From 2000-2005, the annual pledge of each member state was approximately US$25,000.

10-11 April 2000

Meeting of IHRA delegates in Berlin under German Chairmanship. A visit to the former Nazi concentration camp Sachsenhausen was also organized for the meeting participants.

26 July 2000

First meeting of the Academic Working Group in Berlin, chaired by Professor Yehuda Bauer.

25-26 September 2000

Meeting of IHRA delegates in Weimar in conjunction with a visit to the former Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald. The suggestion to establish a memorials Working Group was proposed during these proceedings.

By the end of 2000, daily communication between IHRA delegates was conducted via email via the IHRA listserves (administrated by the USHMM).

1 February 2001

At this meeting of IHRA delegates in Berlin, it was decided to admit Austria as the tenth member country of the IHRA as well as establish an Education Working Group (EWG).

March 2001

Discussions were held concerning the first project proposal application (PPA) to the IHRA Fund, concerning a teacher-training seminar for Lithuanian and Polish teachers in Krakow. This was the first program supported with funding from the IHRA endowment fund.

2-5 May 2001

Meeting of IHRA delegates in Amsterdam in conjunction with the Amsterdam Conference on Remembrance coordinated with study trips to Westerbork, Anne Frank House and other authentic Holocaust-related sites in the Netherlands.

11-13 September 2001

First-ever three-day meeting of the Education Working Group of the IHRA in Jerusalem organized outside of IHRA Plenary sessions. Suggested IHRA guidelines for educators were formulated for the first time at this meeting. Later other meetings of the EWG, outside of Plenary, were conducted in Budapest (2003); Vilnius (2005); Zagreb (2007); and Paris (2008) and Bratislava (2009).

23-24 October 2001

Meeting of IHRA delegates in The Hague. A representative from the Council of Europe attended an IHRA Plenary session for the first time as an observer.

24-26 June 2002

Working Group and Plenary meetings take place in Paris.

The Czech Republic, Lithuania and Argentina became members during these proceedings.

15-18 October 2002

IHRA meetings in Strasbourg in conjunction with a conference, "Teaching about the Holocaust and Artistic Creation" coordinated in collaboration with the Council of Europe.

Hungary became a member of the IHRA.

Karel Fracapane, who worked under the French chair in 2002, was asked to become a fellow of the IHRA and continue his work under the US Chair. In 2006, Fracapane's title was revised, and he became the Executive Secretary to the IHRA Chair. Fracapane continued in this capacity, relocating on an annual basis, until June 2007 under the Czech Chairmanship.

11-14 May 2003

IHRA Working Group and Plenary meetings, including visit to USHMM.

The decision was taken to establish an SIWG (Strategic Implementation Working Group), including a former IHRA Chairs, Academic Advisor and Chairs of IHRA Working Groups in an effort to better prepare Plenary sessions and steer the IHRA into the future.

Luxembourg became a member of the IHRA.

11 September 2003

First meeting of the SIWG (Strategic Implementation Working Group), including former IHRA Chairs, Academic Advisor and Chairs of IHRA Working Groups.

1-3 December 2003

IHRA Liaison Working Group meetings and Plenary session take place in Washington DC.

Norway becomes a member of the IHRA, and Professor Bauer announces that he would like to begin a process to find his successor as IHRA Academic Advisor.

Original logo was created.

6-9 June 2004

IHRA Working Group meetings and Plenary session take place in Rome.

An international seminar in memory of the well-renowned author and Holocaust survivor, Primo Levi, was organized in conjunction with this meeting by the IHRA chair.

Denmark and Latvia became members of the IHRA.

12-16 December 2004

IHRA Working Group meetings and Plenary session take place in Trieste. At this meeting, Switzerland and Romania joined the IHRA. An observer from OSCE/ODIHR participated in IHRA meetings for the first time.

26-30 June 2005

IHRA Working Group meetings and Plenary session take place in Warsaw. A discussion about the urgent opening of the ITS (International Tracing Service) archives was led by the IHRA-subcommittee on the accessibility of the ITS - all Holocaust related holdings (ISAIAH) on Bad Arolsen.

Pressure by IHRA member states on the ITS, including three IHRA declarations over a period of a year (June 2004- June 2005) contributed to the opening of the Bad Arolsen archives.

At this meeting, Professor Dina Porat was appointed as the Academic Advisor to the IHRA. In addition, discussions took place in Plenary regarding changing member states' annual pledge from US dollars to Euro. By 2007, member states’ contribution to the IHRA fund was 30,000 € per year.

1 November 2005

UN Resolution 60/7, highlighting the work of the IHRA, was passed.

13-16 November 2005

IHRA Working Group meetings and Plenary session take place in Krakow, including a study tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Belgium, Croatia, Greece, and Slovakia become members of the IHRA.

The IHRA Chair issued a press release expressing concern about the situation of Darfur to Juan Mendez, special UN Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.

This was the first IHRA meeting that Professor Dina Porat attended in her capacity as Academic Advisor to the IHRA. Professor Bauer became IHRA Honorary Chairman.

24-25 May 2006

IHRA Working Group meetings and Plenary session take place in Budapest. This was the first time United Nations representatives attended IHRA Plenary meetings as observers. During these meetings, it was decided to change the name of the Information Working Group to the Communication Working Group.

3-6 December 2006

IHRA Working Group meetings and Plenary sessions take place in Budapest. The decision to create a permanent secretariat was adopted by consensus.

During this meeting, a discussion regarding a press release concerning Iran President's statements on the Holocaust was held. The declaration, released through its chair, was issued on January 5, 2007.

General obligations of countries interested in becoming members to the IHRA were adopted. Serbia became an observer to the IHRA.

10-13 June 2007

IHRA Working Group meetings and Plenary session take place in Prague. It was decided by consensus that the permanent secretariat would be established in Berlin. The Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union (FRA/EU) became an observer to the IHRA. The Chair issued a declaration on the importance about teaching the genocide of the Roma and Sinti.

During this meeting, Spain officially became a liaison country to the IHRA and Canada and Slovenia became observer countries. The Memorials Working Group (MWG) was renamed the Memorials and Museums Working Group (MMWG).

1-2 November 2007

Special Working Group on New Challenges to the IHRA met in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

2-7 December 2007

IHRA Working Group and Plenary sessions in Prague, including study tour of Terezin.

Estonia became a member of the IHRA and Ireland became an observer country. Dr. Kathrin Meyer was nominated as the Executive Secretary of the IHRA.

11 March 2008

IHRA Permanent Office established with a ceremony in Berlin, presided by the German Foreign Minister, members of IHRA delegations and other dignitaries.

15-18 June 2008

IHRA Working Group and Plenary sessions in Linz, including study tours of Mauthausen and Hartheim.

14-17 December 2008

IHRA Working Group and Plenary sessions take place in Vienna. The decision is adopted to establish an ad-hoc intersessional mechanism to address the questions of funding policy.

Spain became a member of the IHRA.  Turkey became an observer country.

Applications to the Project Proposal Applications (PPA) funding program, which ran prior to 2010, had been received from more than 25 countries across the globe.  Approximately 400 project proposals were received by the various IHRA Working Groups since 2001. More than half of all of the project proposals were reviewed by the Education Working Group.

22-25 June 2009

IHRA Working Group and Plenary sessions take place in Oslo.  The Joint Working Group Subcommittee on the Roma Genocide was established. 

Canada became a member of the IHRA.  Finland and Ireland became liaison countries, and Portugal and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia became observer countries.

30 November-3 December 2009

IHRA Working Group and Plenary sessions take place in Trondheim.  The Grant Strategy 2010-2014 was adopted.  The Standing Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial was established.

UNESCO became a Permanent Observer to the IHRA.

Serbia and Slovenia became liaison countries.

24 February 2010

The IHRA Chair signed a Memoranda of Understanding with the Council of Europe.  This was the first Memoranda of Understanding signed between the IHRA and one of its Permanent Observers.

14-17 June 2010

IHRA Working Group and Plenary sessions take place in Jerusalem. 

21 July 2010

Memoranda of Understanding signed with OSCE/ODIHR.

13-16 December 2010

IHRA Working Group and Plenary sessions take place in Haifa. 

Finland became a member of the IHRA.

Professor Steven Katz became the acting Academic Advisor.

20-23 June 2011

IHRA Working Group and SIWG/PPC sessions take place in Amsterdam. 

28 November-1 December 2011

IHRA Working Group and Plenary sessions take place in The Hague.

Ireland, Serbia, and Slovenia became members of the IHRA.

The IHRA adopted a new logo designed by Daniel Libeskind.

25-28 June 2012

IHRA Working Group and Plenary sessions held in Mechelen.

Professor Steven Katz was appointed as Advisor to the IHRA.

10-13 December 2012

IHRA Working Group and Plenary sessions held in Liège. 

The new name International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) was adopted.

Bulgaria became an observer country.

11-13 June 2013

IHRA Plenary meetings held in Berlin.

6-10 October 2013

IHRA Plenary meetings held in Toronto. 

Working Definition of Holocaust Denial and Distortion adopted by the Plenary.

Yehuda Bauer Grant established to recognize one outstanding proposal submitted through IHRA’s Grant Programme each year.

Plenary adopted internal working rules.

Uruguay became an observer country.

22-23 January

IHRA Conference "Killing Sites - Research and Remembrance" held in Krakow. 

10-11 June

IHRA Conference "The Genocide of the Roma" held in London.

12-15 June

IHRA Plenary meetings held in London.

IHRA established a third cross-cutting Committee, the Committee on Holocaust, Genocide and Crimes against Humanity.

The IHRA Grant Strategy 2015-2018 was adopted.

The International Tracing Service was accepted as a Permanent International Partner.

1-4 December

IHRA Plenary Meetings held in Manchester. Albania, El Salvador and Moldova became observer countries.

On 9 March 2015 the IHRA Handover took place in the Hungarian Embassy in Berlin. The 2015 IHRA Chair was State Secretary Szabolcs Takacs.

8-11 June

The IHRA Plenary Meetings take place in Budapest, Hungary.

2-5 November

The IHRA Plenary Meetings take place in Debrecen, Hungary.

On 8 March 2016 the IHRA Handover took place in the Romanian Embassy in Berlin. The 2016 IHRA Chair is Ambassador Mihnea Constantinescu.

23-26 May

The IHRA Plenary Meetings take place in Bucharest, Romania.

7-10 November

The IHRA Plenary Meetings to take place in Iasi, Romania.


1998 May - September, Sweden; Chair: Ulf Hjertonsson

September - December, USA; Chair: Stuart E. Eizenstat

1999 January - June, UK; Chair: Jeremy Cresswell

September - November, Israel; Chair: Shmuel Ben Shmuel

2000 December 1999 - February 2000, Sweden; Chair: Ulf Hjertonsson

2000 As of March 1, Germany; Chair: Albert Spiegel

2001 the Netherlands; Chair: Rienko Wilton followed by Frederick Racke

2002 France; Chair: Norbert Engel followed by Patrick Amiot

2003 USA; Chair: Randolph Bell followed by Edward O'Donnell Jr.

2004 Italy; Chair: Giorgio Franchetti Pardo

2005 Poland; Chair: Daria Nalecz

2006 Hungary; Chair: Balint Magyar

2007 Czech Republic; Chair: Milos Pojar

2008 Austria; Chair: Ferdinand Trauttsmansdorff

2009 Norway; Chair: Tom Vraalsen

2010 Israel; Chair: Dan Tichon

2011 the Netherlands; Chair: Karel de Beer

2012 Belgium; Chair: Jan Deboutte

2013 Canada; Chair: Mario Silva

2014 United Kingdom; Chair: Sir Andrew Burns

2015 Hungary; Chair: Szabolcs Takács

2016 Romania; Chair: Mihnea Constantinescu

2017 Switzerland; Chair: Benno Baettig

Sweden - 1998

USA - 1998

UK - 1998

Germany - 1998

Israel - 1998

The Netherlands - 1999

Poland - 1999

France - 1999

Italy - 1999

Austria - 2001

Czech Republic - 2001

Hungary - 2002

Lithuania - 2003

Argentina - 2003

Luxembourg - 2003

Norway - 2003

Denmark - 2004

Latvia - 2004

Switzerland - 2004

Romania - 2004

Croatia - 2005

Greece - 2005

Slovak Republic - 2005

Belgium - 2005

Estonia - 2007

Spain - 2008

Canada – 2009

Finland – 2010

Ireland – 2011

Serbia – 2011

Slovenia – 2011

Academic Working Group

2000-2002 Yehuda Bauer, Israel

2003-2005 Juliane Wetzel, Germany

2006-2008 Paul Dostert, Luxembourg

2008-2010 Steven Katz, USA

2011 Paul Dostert, Luxembourg and Juliane Wetzel, Germany

2013 Wichert ten Have, the Netherlands

2014 Alain Goldschlager, Canada

2015 Brigitte Bailer, Austria

2016 David Silberklang, Israel


Education Working Group

2001 Shulamit Imber and Richelle Budd Caplan, Israel

2002 William Shulman, USA

2003 Paul Levine, Sweden

2004 Paul Salmons, United Kingdom

2005 Karen Polak, the Netherlands

2006 Claude Singer, France

2007 Wolf Kaiser, Germany

2008 Yvonne Schuchmann, Hungary

2009 Monique Eckmann, Switzerland

2010 Werner Dreier, Austria

2011 Otto Rühl, Denmark

2012 Monika Vrzgulova, Slovakia

2013 Alice Herscovitch, Canada

2014 Piotr Trojanski, Poland

2015 Alex Maws, United Kingdom

2016 Stefan Anderson, Sweden



Memorials and Museums Working Group

2002 Stephen Smith, United Kingdom

2003 Thomas Lutz, Germany

2004 Teresa Swiebocka, Poland

2005 Heidemarie Uhl, Austria

2006 Dirk Mulder, The Netherlands

2007 David Marwell, USA

2008 Magdalena Smidova, Sweden

2009 Jon Reitan, Norway

2010 François Wisard, Switzerland

2011 Karel Fracapane, France

2011-2012 Andrea Gualde, Argentina

2013 Thomas Lutz, Germany

2014 Zanet Battinou, Greece

2015 Nina Krieger, Canada

2016 Michal Vanek, Slovakia


Communications Working Group

2000-2001 Wesley Fisher, USA

2001-2003 Julie Hock, USA

2003-2006 Michelle Gross, USA

2007-2008 Bitte Wallin, Sweden

2008-2009 Hugo Poliart, Belgium

2010 Sebastian Rejak, Poland

2011-2012 Kori Street, Canada

2012-2013 Kay Andrews, United Kingdom

2014 Jane Jacobs-Kimmelman, Israel

2015 Yasmina Amire, Belguim

2016 Michael Newman, United Kingdom


Budget Committee

2003-2005 Jan Ahlberg, Sweden

2005-present Katarina Kristensson, Sweden