Two plenary meetings were held in June and November 2017 in Geneva and Bern where the Swiss chair, Benno Bättig, managed to get the 31 members of the IHRA to agree for the first time on a common strategy and priorities for their work in the next few years – namely preserving and protecting places associated with the Holocaust and documents about the Holocaust. The IHRA also seeks to ensure that any attempts to distort, not just deny, the Holocaust are tackled. The task of implementing the strategy now falls to the Italian chairmanship, which took over from the Swiss on 6 March 2018. They are also responsible for finding the necessary funds and introducing a process of reflection on the IHRA's organisational structure.
The Swiss chairmanship has at the same time been supporting the strategic objectives of the IHRA via a dozen projects in Switzerland. In addition, Swiss representations around the world have been organising a number of Holocaust-related activities. In order to promote research and education on the Holocaust, Switzerland put the spotlight on 'education', 'youth' and 'social media' during its one-year chairmanship until March 2018. This was one of the reasons for bringing Holocaust survivors together with pupils from Biel and Geneva – to translate their stories and reflect on the Holocaust in this profound way.
The project resulted in 15 separate volumes of memoirs from Holocaust survivors in German and French as well as a volume with summaries in four languages, which have been distributed by the Contact Point for Holocaust Survivors.
The Swiss chairmanship also supported the development of the interactive learning app 'Fleeing the Holocaust', which helps the user approach the subject of the Holocaust via the stories of five people who were forced to flee the Nazi regime. In January 2018, the international study days at the Lausanne University of Teacher Education (HEP Vaud) focused on how to deal with the Holocaust in schools using practical examples and experiences from the classroom.
Since Switzerland joined the IHRA in 2004, the FDFA has been working in an advisory group together with key partners from the federal government, the cantons and NGOs. The advisory group was included in creating and shaping the Swiss chairmanship of the IHRA and remained key to the workings of the chairmanship throughout its duration.
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