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International Conference about the Holocaust and Other Genocides: Uses, Abuses and Misuses of the Holocaust Paradigm


Marking the Dutch Chair 2011 of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research (ITF) and preceding the Plenary meetings in The Hague, the Dutch members of the ITF Working Groups are organizing a conference entitled, "The Uses, Misuses and Abuses of the Holocaust Paradigm."

Its purpose is to bring together educators and researchers to discuss the Holocaust in relation to other genocides and to reflect upon new approaches that have emerged in the field.  The Holocaust is a common reference in discussions on mass violence and genocide, and it regularly functions as a paradigm for these processes.   A particular aim of the upcoming conference to discern how and to what extent this paradigm is used, misused, and abused.

The conference will take place on November 27 and 28. The first day of the conference focuses around the notable keynote speakers. Following their lectures there will be ample time for discussion. The Academy Room of the Peace Palace will be open to all interested members of the public.

On the second day, Dutch members of the ITF Working Groups have prepared workshops. Only ITF delegates and selected guests can participate in these workshops. Those ITF delegates interested to attend are invited to register for the workshops on new academic research, education and museums and memorials. The number of seats is limited, so please register before November 20th.

The underlying principles of the November conference are those stated in the Stockholm Declaration of 2000 and the mission statement of the ITF, namely that "we must strengthen the moral commitment of our peoples, and the political commitment of our governments, to ensure that future generations can understand the causes of the Holocaust and reflect upon its consequences."  The Stockholm Declaration also maintains that it is our "solemn responsibility" to fight "genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, antisemitism and xenophobia." In the spirit of this task, the Dutch Chair has added that "the ITF should discuss issues such as the meaning of the Holocaust and its affinity to other, more recent genocides, as well as differing historical narratives and the relation of the ITF's mandate to other victim groups."

Since Raphael Lemkin coined the term genocide in 1944 and the United Nations adopted the Genocide Convention on December 9, 1948, the relationship of the Holocaust to other genocides has been a topic of discussion.  Consequently, when the Holocaust is studied in education or scholarly research, questions of its analogy to other genocides regularly, if not inevitably, emerge.  While Holocaust historiography debates have traditionally addressed the importance of ideology, the Nazi perpetrators, and later the perspective of the victims, more recent scholarly trends attempt to view the Holocaust in a broader context in order to gain a better understanding of its nature and effect. Likewise, comparative studies seek to stimulate questions about the place of the Holocaust in the history of genocide.

Regarding the main focus of this conference, it is not so much the relationship of the Holocaust to other genocides in itself but how this relationship has become part of the international discourse. Research on genocide and mass violence is often influenced by the results of Holocaust historiography. This is clear in methodology and in the use of concepts such as perpetrators, victims and later, bystanders.  However it is also the case that continued research on mass violence has, in its turn, added nuance to our understanding of the causes and consequences of the Holocaust.  This reasoning forms the background of our conference on the Holocaust and other genocides, and we hope that the theme of the "Uses, Misuses, and Abuses of the Holocaust Paradigm" will provoke stimulating discussion.


November 27, Peace Palace The Hague, Academy Room

Keynotes and discussion by Prof. Deborah Dwork, Prof. Christian Gerlach, Prof. Abram de Swaan, Prof. Eric Weitz

November 28, Peace Palace (ITF and invitees only)

Workshops by the Academic, Education and Museum and Memorials Working Groups

Plenary closing panel

Full program


If you have any questions regarding the Conference, please contact:

Drs. Barbara Boender | Coördinator Publiek en Educatie | Herengracht 380, 1016 CJ Amsterdam | Telefoon +31 (0)20‑523 38 08 | E‑mail b.boender [at] |