“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
This week the ITF is participating in the International Training Team Project in Portugal, Slovenia, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The International Training Team Project is a special initiative of the Israeli Chairmanship that funds teams of ITF experts to travel to three ITF-affiliated countries.
The International Training Team project is timed to coincide with the week of 27 January, the day the United Nations officially declared as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This initiative furthers one of the primary goals of the ITF, which is to foster the commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Days.
In each of these three countries, ITF experts will be taking part in events that involve parliaments, government ministries, universities, museums, and various other forums. Each International Training Team will be working with the diplomatic corps, journalists, academics, policymakers, the armed forces, politicians, and educators to promote International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The International Training Team Project is a significant initiative that will demonstrate the importance of commemorating 27 January, and give each of these three ITF-affiliated countries more information on the work of the ITF.
The International Training Team program in Lisbon, Portugal consists of three ITF experts: Jerry Gotel of the London Jewish Cultural Center, Richelle Budd-Caplan from Yad Vashem, and Kathrin Meyer, Executive Secretary of the ITF. The program will include a symposium at the Catholic University and meetings with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Memoshoá (Association for Remembrance and Education of the Holocaust). It will also involve participation in the opening of an exhibition on Polish Judaism at the Espaço Memória dos Exílios, which was co-organized by the Embassies of Israel and Poland. On 27 January, the ITF experts will attend a session at the Assembleia da República (Parliament). At the public event that follows the special session at the parliament, which will be attended by Portuguese members of Parliament, the diplomatic corps, and members of the public, the ITF's Executive Secretary, Kathrin Meyer, will deliver the keynote speech.
Concurrently in Ljubljana, Slovenia, the ITF experts will meet with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Human Rights Department, the Ministries of Education, and MPs at the National Assembly. The ITF experts traveling to Slovenia include David Silberklang from Yad Vashem, Wolf Kaiser of the House of the Wannsee Conference, and Juliane Wetzel from the Center for Research on Antisemitism at the Technical University Berlin. Experts will also consult with Slovenia's team of experts working on ITF issues. Two museum exhibits will open to coincide with International Holocaust Remembrance Day: "The Dreyfuss Affair" and "Holocaust 1933-1945 (The Courage To Remember)".
The ITF experts attending the program in Skopje are Mark Weitzman from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Stephen Smith of the USC Shoah Foundation, and Naama Shik from Yad Vashem. The experts will meet with several government ministries, the Honorary Consul for the State of Israel, the Executive Board of the Holocaust Fund, and the Jewish community, among others. The experts will attend a ceremony at the Jews Deportation Monument in Skopje, visit the Memorial Centre of the Holocaust, which is in its final stages of construction, and commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Memorial Jewish Cemetery in Bitola.
The International Training Team Project is a key initiative that will foster the commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day and help build key links in three ITF-affiliated countries. The ITF hopes that this project will contribute to the understanding of the importance of 27 January, including outside the ITF region, and encourage countries to work towards the goals outlined in the Stockholm Declaration of promoting Holocaust education, remembrance, and research.