The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) joined world leaders, and international organizations including the CoE, EU, FRA, OSCE, the UN, and UNESCO at the Remember – ReAct Forum, Malmö, hosted by the Government of Sweden, where attendees took concrete steps to promote Holocaust remembrance, and fight Holocaust distortion and antisemitism through a series of pledges. Representatives from 50 countries were joined by social media companies, policymakers, NGOs and civil society organisations to agree on how to enhance Holocaust remembrance and education at a time when antisemitism, anti-Roma racism and other forms of discrimination are on the rise. The IHRA was represented by IHRA Chair, Ambassador Chris J. Lazaris, its Secretary General, Dr Kathrin Meyer, and Honorary Chairman, Professor Yehuda Bauer.
Concrete pledges made at the Remember – ReAct Malmö Forum
The Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism, Remember – ReAct, hosted by Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden at the Malmömässan in Malmö, saw a significant number of pledges made by all participants to strengthen the approach to Holocaust remembrance and tackling Holocaust distortion, denial and contemporary antisemitism. The pledges will also enhance education on the Holocaust and the genocide of the Roma and commit governments to reflecting on the historical events of the Holocaust to inform policy today.
The pledges will be implemented in the coming years and are critical to countering the rising tide of antisemitism and distortion of history. The Swedish government received resounding support for their pledges to:
- Preserve and pass on the memory of the Holocaust
- Promote education to prevent antisemitism and other forms of racism and to strengthen Holocaust research
- Combat antisemitism, antigypsyism and other forms of racism – online and offline
- Promote Jewish life, strengthen Roma inclusion and enhance security for civil society
IHRA pledges at the Malmö Forum
Further, the IHRA received international support for its pledges to:
- Address rising Holocaust denial and distortion as a virulent form of contemporary antisemitism together with UNESCO by developing resources and trainings to support policymakers, civil servants, journalists and stakeholders from the field of education
- Develop recommendations for teaching and learning about the genocide of the Roma to provide policymakers, teacher trainers and educators with a framework for teaching about the genocide, increasing awareness of this history as well as existing forms of anti-Roma discrimination in our societies
- Develop recommendations to identify Holocaust-related archival materials, so that victims, survivors and their descendants can reclaim their histories and their identities.
The Malmö Forum also focused on the upsurge in incidents related to Holocaust distortion – rhetoric, written work or other types of media that excuse, minimize, or misrepresent the known historical record of the Holocaust. In recent years, Holocaust distortion has become worryingly synonymous with conspiracy myths, authoritarianism, violent antisemitism and extreme forms of nationalism.
Originally planned to take place in October 2020, 75 years after the end of the Second World War and the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Forum was postponed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Forum takes place 21 years after the adoption of the Stockholm Declaration, the founding document of the IHRA, and one year after the adoption of the IHRA 2020 Ministerial Declaration.
2022 Swedish Presidency of the IHRA to follow up on pledges
As a member of the IHRA, Sweden will assume the Presidency of the IHRA in March 2022 until February 2023. One of the Swedish Presidency’s priorities will be to follow up on the pledges announced by IHRA’s Member Countries at the Forum, while continuing to coordinate political and international dialogue to combat all forms of antisemitism and Holocaust distortion.
Dr Kathrin Meyer, Secretary General of the IHRA, said: “The mainstreaming of Holocaust distortion, often spread across borders via social media, is a serious challenge for us all globally as it paves the way for antisemitism, Holocaust denial and extreme nationalism. We are pleased to see global leaders stand in solidarity to pledge fresh commitments to fight this evil. The IHRA will continue to work tirelessly with its 34 Member Countries and other partners to support implementation of the pledges made, to ensure remembrance of the Holocaust and foster a world without genocide.”
Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden, said: “I have personally promised survivors to do what I can as Prime Minister, and as a human being, for Holocaust remembrance and combating antisemitism. I intend to keep that promise. I sincerely hope that the Malmö Forum will work as a catalyst for international cooperation and increased action in these crucial missions.”
Details from all the attendees’ pledges made at the Malmö Forum will be made available here: www.government.se