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People around the world will learn the lessons of the Holocaust in a bid to also prevent any future genocide through a seminar being offered this week to UN officials.
"The History of the Holocaust: Confronting Hatred, Preventing Genocide and Cultivating Moral Responsibility," was initiated by the UN Department of Public Information's "Holocaust and United Nations Outreach Program" and the United States Holocaust Museum and is taking place this week in Washington, DC.
"This is raising the profile of the Holocaust as a model for genocide prevention," said Dan Napolitano, director of education within the National Institute of Holocaust Education at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. "It is a very exciting and great opportunity to use the vast network of the UN to accelerate and expose millions of citizens to issues surrounding genocide and the Holocaust."
Developed by the Museum's National Institute for Holocaust Education, the seminar outlined the circumstances that led to the Holocaust and their relevance today. Information officers from United Nations Information Centers (UNICs) in Asuncion, Bogota, Buenos Aires, La Paz, Lima, Mexico City, Panama City, Port of Spain, Rio de Janeiro and Washington, DC took part.
The seminar aimed to dispel the idea that the Holocaust was simply a "European event," unrelated to Latin America, said Napolitano.
"They are learning what their countries did and didn't do at the time, a history of their continent they didn't know, and then how it relates to contemporary struggles with poverty and economic unrest," said Napolitano. "Germany is a case study of what are the wrong choices, and in some ways it can be a guideline for how they treat marginalized people in their own countries today."
The outreach program was created at the request of the UN General Assembly in a resolution adopted in November, 2005, which obligates member states to engage in educational programs on the subject of the Holocaust, and to mobilize civil society around the issue.
The series of briefings and discussion was being conducted in English and in Spanish by experts in Holocaust studies and genocide prevention. They provided participants with the historical background and context in which the Holocaust took place, and explored themes critical to the rise of the Nazis. This included looking at the racist ideology and the impact it has had on contemporary society.
"The seminars give them history, and pedagogical models to think through issues happening in their countries today," said Napolitano. "Understanding the history of the Holocaust is critical to understanding the 21st century."
The hope is that participants would leave better equipped to develop educational programs, aimed at future generations, regarding lessons learned from the Holocaust.