European Education Ministers Seminar - '' Teaching remembrance through cultural heritage '' - Cracow and Auschwitz-Birkenau - Poland - 4-6 May 2005

DGIV/EDU/MEM (2005) 9

Seminar of European Ministers of Education 1

“Teaching remembrance through cultural heritage”, Cracow and Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland (4-6 May 2005)


We, the Ministers of Education gathered on the occasion of the seminar “Teaching remembrance through cultural heritage” held in Cracow from 4 to 6 May 2005, in the framework of the Standing Conference of European Ministers of Education, at the invitation of the Polish authorities and under the auspices of the Polish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe,

1. Sincerely touched by the very moving hours spent on the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camps and by our participation in “the March of the Living”, calling to mind the atrocities suffered here by men, women and children and remembering that at this time in May the last of the death camps strewn across Europe by Nazism were liberated;

2. Recalling that the European Cultural Convention, whose 50th anniversary we are honouring, instituted as one of its principles the prevention and combating of all forms of intolerance;

3. Reiterating with profound anxiety the finding in the Wroclaw Declaration (December 2004) that racism, anti-semitism, extreme nationalism, xenophobia, intolerance, exclusion, terrorism, extremism and even warfare are reviving;

4. Expressing our concern about the emergence and development of new forms of intolerance such as islamaphobia;

5. Recalling the texts which we adopted earlier on the teaching of remembrance, in particular:

- the Declaration issued here in Cracow in 2000 at the 20th session of the Standing Conference of European Ministers of Education, in which we agreed “to institute in schools a Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and for the prevention of crimes against humanity, chosen with regard to the history of each member state”;

- the Declaration issued in Strasbourg in October 2002 at the first ministerial seminar dealing with the Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and for the prevention of crimes against humanity;

6. Having taken note of the conclusions of the workshop on “Teaching remembrance through cultural heritage” held on Wednesday 4 May;

7. Having exchanged information on the activities organised in the context of the Remembrance Day and shared the lessons learned from the experience of its implementation;

8. Acknowledging the creation by young Europeans from diverse backgrounds of a sculptural work symbolising unity and peace;

9. In this auspicious year 2005, proclaimed “European Year of Citizenship through Education”, stress the importance of a style of teaching about the Shoah and other examples of genocide and crimes against humanity through various disciplines. This teaching also affords a grasp of how to be a citizen in present-day Europe, a central concern of education systems generally;

10. Consider it expedient, now that the last direct witnesses of the Holocaust are vanishing one by one, to make the transition from remembrance to vigilance, and from knowledge to civic action;

11. Share an amplified approach to the concept of cultural heritage, perceived as an
expression of values, beliefs, wisdoms and traditions, and discern in this heritage a means to knowledge of the past and mutual understanding and dialogue favouring conflict prevention;

12. Reaffirm our resolve to develop and enhance initial and in-service teachertraining on remembrance and prevention of crimes against humanity;

13. Support the proposed establishment at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum of an education centre to develop the teaching of remembrance and invite the centre to co-operate closely with the Council of Europe;

14. Invite the Council of Europe to consider ways and means of establishing, in conjunction with existing bodies, an Internet portal concerned with different aspects of Jewish life, past and present, to serve as a resource bank for educational activities in this area;

15. Ask the Council of Europe – which possesses the appropriate know-how and
expertise – to pursue the following action directed at trainers and teachers in the 48 European Cultural Convention signatory States, specifically as regards the preparation and implementation in schools of the “Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and for the prevention des crimes against humanity”:

- devising training tools or modules that aid lesson preparation and educational projects on the subject;

- on the basis of the observations of existing successful teaching methods registered at the European seminars already held, devising training modules that lend themselves to application or adaptation in relation to these themes in the member states;

- preparing outreach publications that provide teachers with a body of common resources in the realms of history, culture and other art forms (plastic arts, literature, music, architecture, etc.);

- organising European training seminars in the member states to raise awareness of these issues.

- strengthening co-operation with international and regional organisations in the Mediterranean region concerned with intercultural dialogue, leading to joint activities on the teaching of remembrance drawing on a range of cultural heritages to encourage mutual understanding of cultures.

16. Present this Declaration to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe with the request to transmit it to all Council of Europe agencies concerned, in particular the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI);

17. Convey the appended message to the Ministers’ Deputies of the Council of Europe and ask them to forward it to the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe to be held in Warsaw on 16 and 17 May 2005.

Note  Note 
1 Organised under the Standing Conference of European Ministers of Education, the Polish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the Project “Teaching Remembrance – Education for the prevention of crimes against humanity”.