“Our commitment must be to remember the victims who perished, respect the survivors still with us, and reaffirm humanity's common aspiration for mutual understanding and justice.”
-- Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust
An important first step in the field of Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Finland has been completed, as Helsinki University Summer School's course "Introduction to Holocaust and Genocide Studies" was concluded in Helsinki in August 2011.
The course proved to be a great success, and was attended by students from eight different countries in Europe, Asia and North America.
A number of Finnish and international high-profile experts were among the teaching staff. Three of them, Cecilie Felicia Stokholm Banke of the Danish Institute for International Studies, Alain Goldschläger of the Holocaust Literature Research Institute, University of Western Ontario, and Wichert ten Have of the Amsterdam Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, are also delegates in the Academic Working Group of the ITF. Among the Finnish experts, Professor of Forensic Science Helena Ranta gave a lecture of her work in charge of the UN investigations of human rights violations in Kosovo.
The course program was built around the concept of giving the students, both under- and postgraduates with differing backgrounds and previous knowledge of the subject, a thorough understanding of the field. The Holocaust served as the focal point from which to further explore the problem of genocide. The course schedule also included a visit to Tallinn, Estonia, and two Holocaust-related sites in or close to the city: the execution site of the Klooga concentration camp with its numerous memorials, as well as the Tallinn Central Prison, used as a detention centre by both the Nazi and Soviet regimes.
The course, the first of its kind to be held in Finland, was a very important start for developing Holocaust and Genocide Studies into a full-fledged scholarly field in Finland. The participants will form an expanding international network of young, talented scholars in the field. The organizers wish to further develop the course program into one of the leading learning experience of its kind in Europe. The preparations for a new Helsinki Summer School course for 2012 are already underway!
- Malte Gasche, Simo Muir, and Oula Silvennoinen
Delegation of Finland