UNESCO Honours Russian Holocaust Essay Laureates

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UNESCO Honours Russian Holocaust Essay Laureates

Paris, 8 July 2009

UNESCO, together with the French educational foundation Verbe et Lumière – Vigilance (VetL) and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre-Europe (SWC-E), co-sponsored the Fifth Annual Russian University Holocaust Essay Competition at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

The winners are, each year, invited to Paris to present their papers.
This year, over 700 submissions arrived from all over the former Soviet Union, to be judged by the competition coordinator, the Russian Holocaust Centre (RHC) in Moscow.

The session was co-chaired by RHC Director, Dr Ilya Altman, and, on behalf of SWC-E and VetL, Dr Shimon Samuels.

UNESCO Director-General, Koïchiro Matsuura, spoke of the 2007 Resolution
61 as the basis for the Organization's global promotion of Holocaust education. He committed UNESCO's continued support under future administrations.

War criminal investigator, Beate Klarsfeld, responded with a description of her German childhood visit to 1943 Nazi-occupied Poland, as formative in her career, adding the importance of transmission of such memories with the endorsement of UNESCO.

The student laureates presented abstracts of their work:
-Yekaterina Zamarina, a blind student at Sillamae University, Estonia, Institute of Economics and Management, on "The History of the Holocaust in Estonia";
- Anna Mitrushina, of St. Petersburg Herzen University, Faculty of Social Sciences, on "Teaching the Holocaust in Russian High Schools"
- Alena Samsonova, of Gubkin University of Oil and Gas, Faculty of Engineering Mechanics, on "Holocaust Denial in Russia"
- Bella Khayzens, of Nizhny Novgorod Linguistic University, on "Holocaust Semiotics in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict"

Tania Klarsfeld, Eliane Corrin and Alexander Kaplan added their own second-generation testimonies, followed by Kovno Ghetto survivor, Simon Kaplan.

UNESCO Deputy Assistant Director-General for Education, Dr Quian Tang, proposed an international version of the Russian contest through UNESCO's 8,000 worldwide Associated Schools, underscoring the continued engagement of his sector's Holocaust Education unit.

 Pictured at the ceremony are, from left to right:
Front row: Dr Graciela Vaserman Samuels (UNESCO), Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura, Beate Klarsfeld.
Back row: The four Russian laureates, Dr Ilya Altman, Alexander Kaplan, Dr Shimon Samuels, UNESCO Education Director Dr Quian Tang, Simon Kaplan, Anna Kaplan.
Present (but not visible in the photo) were also Tania Klarsfeld and Dr Eliane Corrin.
The Russian edition of the book, "Antisemitism – The Generic Hatred. Essays in Memory of Simon Wiesenthal", was given to US Delegation member, Esther Coopersmith, for First Lady Michele Obama.
Also in the picture: US Chargé at UNESCO Stephen Engelken, Dr Graciela Vaserman Samuels, Dr Shimon Samuels

For further information, please contact Shimon Samuels at +33.609.77.01.58.