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Beneficiaries: Trainers who organize trainings for civil society

The spread of disinformation, fake news, propaganda, and hate speech, is one of the biggest challenges facing societies all over the world. False or misleading information about the Holocaust threatens the memory and understanding of this part of our history, while perpetuating hatred, antisemitism, conspiracy theories and disregard for the truth.

While Holocaust denial tries to erase the Holocaust from history –­ claiming that the Holocaust never happened, that it is a fake event made up by Jews with question about whether the gas chambers existed or if mass shootings ever took place and whether victims died from forced labor, starvation, and torture – all in contradiction to reliable sources and established research, Holocaust distortion excuses, misrepresents or minimizes the history. Holocaust denial is easier to recognize and specific legislation against it exists in different parts of the world. Holocaust distortion is more complex and in order to identify, address it and combat it, specific training and measures are needed.

Holocaust denial and distortion, in their various forms of manifestation, contribute to the reinforcement of antisemitism, as well as to the ecosphere of fake news by reducing trust in experts, democratic institutions, victim groups and responsible media. While this issue is not new, social media has amplified the spread of falsehoods about the Holocaust. These lies and half-truths reduce our understanding of the past, are often imbued with antisemitic prejudices and stereotypes, and, at worst, glorify the Holocaust in an attempt to rehabilitate Nazi perpetrators and ideologies.

Even though the Holocaust is one of the most researched historical events, one that is also addressed by various artists and writers, established facts about it are still being distorted. In this context, more effective means are needed to ensure a correct understanding of the Holocaust, critical understanding, and respect for human dignity, especially as we enter a new era in which the last Holocaust survivors and direct witnesses are passing away. Civil society plays a vital role in raising awareness about this phenomenon and contributing to preventing and countering it. This training curriculum is intended for trainers working with civil society organizations that are active in the fields of human rights, antisemitism, civic participation, advocacy groups and other CSOs.

The training has five units. Each unit builds on the competences developed by the participants in the previous units. The order of the educational activity is designed to ensure a meaningful pedagogical flow for the development of knowledge and critical understanding, attitudes, skills and values needed to understand Holocaust distortion and its potential impact on our societies, as well as to contribute to preventing and combating it. Therefore, when working with their participants, the trainers are encouraged to do the entire training. However, should they face time constraints, they can choose to do only certain educational activities. Nevertheless, it is important to ensure a meaningful educational flow that can lead to the development of the competences identified as most needed for that specific group of participants.

The training is designed assuming that the participants already have basic knowledge about the Holocaust. Therefore, the educational activities do not address historical facts about the Holocaust or pedagogies that support Holocaust education. Should trainers be interested in conducting training on Holocaust education, the following resources are recommended: