Education, youth and life-long learning are at the centre of the ‘Camp des Milles’ memorial, a best practice in terms of keeping the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and the fight against all hatred – offline and online – alive. “Our duty to remember remains immense. I am convinced that education is the best way to prevent antisemitism” argues Anne Rudisuhli, Member of the Bouches-du-Rhône Departmental Council.
This Friday 27 January is the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The date marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Remembering this is also becoming a challenge: what do you do when there are almost no living survivors left to tell their stories? When antisemitism is on the rise again? What policies can be supported to keep these memories alive through education?
“Unfortunately, we see a return of antisemitism in France and in the rest of Europe. We also regret to see that some teachers in certain classes encounter difficulties in teaching Jewish history, and in particular the history of the Shoah. Some teachers are victims of harassment from students and therefore tend to minimize or ignore this part of history”.
To raise awareness for this, Rudisuhli introduced an amendment in the European Committee of the Regions plenary session in the debate on fighting antisemitism to strengthen the pedagogical accompaniment of history teachers when they transmit the history of the Holocaust:
“The European Committee of the Regions expresses its concern at the recurrence of antisemitic acts in schools and the increasing difficulty that some teachers are experiencing in teaching about the Shoah, and agrees that teachers should be empowered to address antisemitism, the Shoah, Jewish life and history, including in multicultural classrooms; Stresses, therefore, the importance for member states to provide teachers – especially history teachers – and school headmasters with enhanced pedagogical support in their teaching of the Second World War period and more generally when addressing the issue of antisemitism. The European Committee of the Region also points out that in order to review and improve the teaching materials used in the Member States and regions, structured exchanges with teachers are particularly necessary”
In addition, her department takes other actions: “to fight antisemitism and any form of hatred or hate speech, our department finances every year the visit of all students aged 14-15 to the Camp des Milles memorial, where they can witness and learn not only about the problems around deportation during the Second World War but also about the current problems of racism, antisemitism and fake news.”
The Camp des Milles is consequently a best practice on how to tackle antisemitism and any hatred. This site is a former French internment camp, used as transit camp for Jews during the Second World War, and has been converted into a memorial, aimed at youth, offering guided visits, pedagogic workshops, but also offering trainings to educators and teachers as well as in cooperation with the local university to police officers, firemen, elected representatives, CEO’s,…It celebrated its 10th anniversary in September 2022 with a visit of French President Macron. In 2015 the UNESCO also chose it as headquarters for its new chair of Education for Citizenship, Human Sciences and Shared Memories, focusing on research and activism centered on the history of the Holocaust, citizenship and the prevention of genocide.