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Holocaust education grows in Russia

MOSCOW, Nov. 18 (JTA) — A new school to train teachers about the Holocaust is providing evidence that Holocaust education is growing in Russia.

The Moscow-based Holocaust Center is running the school, which opened earlier this month, in conjunction with the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem and the Israeli Open University, which has already been teaching correspondence courses on the Holocaust to thousands of students throughout the former Soviet Union.

Until recent years, research on the Holocaust in Russia was often forbidden, and students learned little about it in their classes.

When former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev ushered in the era of glasnost, the situation started to change — but slowly.

As a result, the countries that belonged to the former Soviet Union as well as other former Communist countries in Eastern Europe “have become centers of revisionist anti-Holocaust propaganda,” said Ilya Altman, head of the Holocaust Center.

Now, with the support of government institutions, Holocaust education is spreading.

A turning point in the state’s position on Holocaust education came in April when the Holocaust Center and Russia’s Education Ministry launched a joint project, “The Holocaust and Modern Russia.”

The project’s goals include launching courses in Holocaust history at Russian high schools and developing textbooks on the subject.

Holocaust centers, mostly offshoots of the Moscow center, have been created in a number of Russian cities, where they are pursuing research into little-known Holocaust atrocities. In the southern Russian city of Rostov-on- Don, the center is collecting information on the massacre of 18,000 Jewish prisoners near the city in August 1942.

The centers also try to teach the lessons of the Holocaust to promote tolerance.

“We have to explain a lot of things about the Holocaust that ordinary people just don’t know,” said Svetlana Danilova, a Jewish community leader in the city of Nalchik.

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