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Holocaust Remembrance in the Council of Europe: Deplorable Victims and Evil Ideologies without Perpetrators

Filed under: Anti-Semitism, World Jewry
Publication: Jewish Political Studies Review

Jewish Political Studies Review

Jewish Political Studies Review Vol.23 No.12

The current European politics of Holocaust remembrance, with its interplay of multiple perspectives of Holocaust history, is marked by the hijacking of the Jewish perspective by including numerous other real and self-claiming victim groups under the Holocaust definition, very general and superficial feelings of shame, and the ascription of a role-model character to the righteous among nations for present-day good citizenship behavior. On the flipside, evil ideologies and subsequent crimes are being denounced without clearly pointing to the individuals and societies who are guilty thereof. The Strasbourg-based intergovernmental Council of Europe, whose establishment dates back to the immediate postwar era, produces pedagogical programs on Holocaust remembrance. Strikingly, the council’s fight against anti-Semitism is institutionally separated from the Holocaust remembrance and education portfolio.

The Emergence of Holocaust Remembrance at the European Level

In one of his seminal studies, Raul Hilberg roughly divides the European populations during the Holocaust[1] into three groups, namely, perpetrators, victims, and bystanders.[2] Daniel Levy and Natan Sznaider, who analyze the passing-down of the Holocaust in collective memory and public remembrance rather than the history of the Nazi annihilation of the Jews, propose a different model. It denotes the Germans as the ideal type of the nation of perpetrators, Israel as the nation of victims, and the United States as the nation of rescuers.[3]

Holocaust remembrance becomes ever more intricate when it leaves the confines of national narratives and is reimplemented at the European level. Multiperspectivity is the state-of-the-art concept in present-day European historiography and in history didactics. Phrased differently, history-writing and history-teaching do not aim at a European history common to all its nations, societies, and peoples but rather seek to take diverging and frequently conflicting perspectives into account and, furthermore, to raise consciousness for this plurality of experiences and memories among students and citizens.

Drawing on the distinctions suggested by Raul Hilberg as well as Daniel Levy and Natan Sznaider, it is worth elaborating on the different perspectives that have been adopted by recent European politics of Holocaust remembrance. The focus here will be on the Council of Europe’s politics of Holocaust remembrance. Hence, most of the empirical evidence to be cited will be concerned with the case of this Strasbourg-based intergovernmental organization, which must not be conflated with the European Union despite several arenas of collaboration.

After a brief overview of ongoing European and global policies in this field, the sections pinpoint four archetypes of Holocaust remembrance at the pan-European level: (1) the perpetrators’ perspective, that is, the export of German politics of the past, (b) the victims’ perspective, that is, the hijacking of specifically Jewish narratives, (c) the bystanders’ perspective, that is, the homogenization of previously divergent national World War II and Holocaust histories, and (d) the rescuers’ perspective, that is, the current fashion of paying tribute to non-Jews who saved Jews as role models for European democratic citizenship behavior.

By way of conclusion, it will be argued that the Council of Europe places significant emphasis on the victims’ and rescuers’ perspectives. The status of victimhood is, however, conferred on numerous other groups apart from the Jews. Although the educational efforts clearly target the eradication of ideologies that led to the crimes against humanity committed by Germans, Austrians, and their European collaborators, perpetrators are barely named and shamed in the respective Council of Europe publications. Eventually, despite the celebrated principle of multiperspectivity, the council forges particular ways of remembrance that cut across national boundaries and can be considered the foundation of a pan-European Holocaust remembrance. A differentiation of what could be called fundamental versus substantive criticism appears to be in place.

It may be argued that the engagement of European and other transnational actors in Holocaust remembrance is fundamentally wrong or only an exercise in political correctness informed by ulterior motives. By contrast, the Council of Europe’s commitment in principle is not contested here, but parts of the substance of its respective policies are problematic.

In the decade between the fiftieth and sixtieth anniversaries of the surrender of Nazi Germany (1995-2005), Holocaust remembrance was globalized and henceforth Europeanized. This development began with the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 and 1991, respectively. It gained momentum by questioning the self-righteous images of countries such as Austria, France, and Switzerland of their roles during World War II, and by the massacres in Rwanda in 1994 and in Srebrenica in 1995. As demonstrated by Levy and Sznaider, Holocaust remembrance was translated into other, at times even non-Western, political settings beyond the German-Jewish context.[4] This globalizing trend was prompted by both international disputes surrounding restitution and compensation, and by transnational media events such as Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List or Jonah Goldhagen’s book Hitler’s Willing Executioners.

Subsequently, European and international organizations, often in cooperation with nongovernmental actors, devised programs for Holocaust remembrance. To name but the most prominent ones, the United Nations commemorates the liberation of Auschwitz on 27 January, passed a resolution against Holocaust denial, and runs a global awareness-raising scheme on the Holocaust and the prevention of genocide. The intergovernmental Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research was founded in 1998 and dedicates its work exclusively to Holocaust remembrance. The OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) (which geographically stretches from Vancouver to Vladivostok) focuses its efforts on the fight against anti-Semitism, and together with the Anne Frank Stichting designed outreach materials to both educate on the Holocaust and prevent anti-Semitism as well as discrimination in general. The European Fundamental Rights Agency includes Holocaust remembrance in its broader human rights portfolio.

The EU as such passed legislation in 2008 that penalizes Holocaust denial in all member states, albeit at varying degrees depending on country-specific provisions. For the past five years, cooperation and the coordination of the various European and global activities of Holocaust remembrance have been placed at the top of the agenda.

Here the concern is predominantly with the Council of Europe, which was established in Strasbourg in 1949 with the objective to promote human rights, the rule of law, and plural democracy in Europe. It currently comprises forty-seven member states, including Turkey and the South Caucasian republics. Thus only non-democratic Belarus and the Holy See as well as Kosovo, due to its unclear international status, are not members of this truly pan-European organization. As signatories of the pertinent European Cultural Convention, the two former countries take part in education policies, among them Holocaust education.

As will be seen in detail, the Council of Europe has referred to World War II and Nazism (the actual use of the terms Holocaust and Shoah dates back only to the turn of the millennium)[5] from its very inception. The chief emphasis of the council’s current politics of Holocaust remembrance is on pedagogical measures, in other words, Holocaust education. As opposed to the EU Fundamental Rights Agency and the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Holocaust remembrance and efforts of combating anti-Semitism are institutionally separated in the council, with the latter ones being delegated to the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI). This division prompts an understanding of anti-Semitism as being one but not the central driving force having led to the extermination of the European Jews. Moreover, it suggests rather universalistic lessons, which do not explicitly refer to the fight against anti-Semitism as a key task of Holocaust remembrance.

Deliberately, the reference here is to Holocaust remembrance in rather than of the Council of Europe, since various protagonists at member-state, intrastate, European, and nongovernmental levels are involved in implementing the organization’s strategy of education on the historical events and the lessons to be drawn by contemporary pupils for the future of European democracy. From a researcher’s outside perspective it is indeed difficult to identify a single agenda-setter in this multicentered fabric of politics of remembrance. However, it is quite safe to establish that the endeavor’s voluntary character gives preference to the interpretations of history of the particular committed member states, be it in terms of provision of expertise, technical support, or funding.

Europeans as Perpetrators: Exporting the German Perspective

According to M. Rainer Lepsius the political elites of the three successor states of Nazi Germany chose distinct paths to come to terms with their legacy. The Federal Republic of Germany internalized its guilt, while the German Democratic Republic universalized it by subsuming National Socialism under the heading of fascism. Austria, on the contrary, externalized it to Germany, falsely claiming that it had been Hitler’s first victim.[6] For the sake of analyzing current European Holocaust remembrance, the West German path is most significant.

Though of this triangle of post-Nazist countries, the Federal Republic was the only one to assume responsibility to some extent, the German strategy proved to be Janus-faced. The confessions of guilt in the aftermath of World War II were nothing but the concessions that had to be made to become a respected member of the Western democratic world and the burgeoning European integration project. West Germany exploited the new emergencies of the Cold War and, concomitantly, strengthened its role due to its rising economic power. The so-called Economic Miracle of the 1950s and 1960s would have been unthinkable without the assets and the policy-planning and managerial knowledge accumulated during the Nazi regime. Ludwig Erhard’s biography aptly shows that there were more continuities than ruptures between the periods before and after 1945.[7]

In the founding years of the Council of Europe, representatives of the West European countries expressed reservations against German participation and the version of a “European civil war” so much favored by the Federal Republic’s government and other outspokenly pro-European activists. While responsibility was seldom openly ascribed to Germany, private correspondence between non-German parliamentarians named names. French politicians Guy Mollet, Michel Debré, Pierre Mendès-France, and British Member of Parliament Hugh Dalton most outspokenly warned of German nationalism as having caused the two world wars.[8] Nevertheless, Germany managed to persuade and deceive its critics, and was integrated into the Council of Europe in 1951 (Saarland in 1957, respectively). The council began to devise history, culture, and education policies in the 1955, when the European Cultural Convention entered into force. However, this did not imply any specific discussion of German and Austrian guilt.

On the surface, German elites and considerable segments of the Left of 1968 gradually began to display negative pride in the country’s exceptional role as the bearer of guilt. In the wake of reunification and the rise of the former rebels of the late 1960s to power in the coalition government of Social Democrats and the Green Party (1998-2005), the German model of dealing with the political and societal implications of Nazism turned into a veritable export product.[9] It has to be welcomed that countries and societies such as Poland, the Baltic states, Hungary, Romania, and more recently Croatia were obliged to investigate their roles in the years of Nazi occupation or collaboration before membership in the EU and NATO. However, one may question whether Germany, by sharing its politics of the past will in the end also share its guilt. “The partial synchronisation of national cultures of remembrance implies…the relativisation of the specific German responsibility for the Holocaust, as was criticised by Thomas Lutz, fellow of the memorial Topography of Terror.”[10]

Unlike in the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, Germany has not played a dominant part in the recent politics of Holocaust remembrance of the Council of Europe. It belongs to the more active countries, however, sharing this commitment with several Central and East European countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, and Romania, to a certain extent Austria, mainly at the expert level the UK and, above all, France whose significance can be attributed to the close cooperation between council officials and French researchers and policymakers.[11]

Parenthetically, Austria, which joined the Council of Europe in 1956 after the withdrawal of the Allied liberation forces, is scarcely mentioned in these paragraphs because, owing to its delayed assumption of responsibility and its minor international role, it had less impact on the unfolding of European politics of Holocaust remembrance.

The spreading of the perpetrators’ perspective across Europe does not go unchallenged. Danish society was hit by astonishment that despite its record of having rescued most of the country’s Jews by evacuating them to Sweden, it suddenly was compelled to carry out introspections into its past similar to countries that fully collaborated in the extermination of the European Jews.[12] These contradicting voices notwithstanding, public apologies and some degree of self-critical research concerning the societies’ behavior during the Holocaust have become consensus matters among European political elites across party cleavages. One can thus agree with Tony Judt’s paraphrasing of Heine that nowadays, not baptism but Holocaust remembrance (or, with reference to the EU accession talks with Turkey, the coming-to-terms with its responsibility for the genocide of the Armenians) is the entréebillet to Europe.[13]


Europeans as Victims: Hijacking the Jewish Perspective

The Council of Europe takes note of the high-politics of apologies by heads of state and prime ministers but attributes limited importance to the perpetrators’ perspective in its own publications on the Holocaust and its remembrance. There is ample evidence that the Strasbourg-based organization gives clear preference to the angles of the victims, the bystanders, and the rescuers. Presumably the perpetrators’ perspective is neglected as a result of the post-1989 criteria for accession to the council, which require the promotion of human rights, the rule of law, and plural democracy but include no reference to politics of the past and Holocaust remembrance. An intergovernmental organization with limited staff and financial capacities, the council highly depends on the member states’ goodwill to fund and implement respective policies of remembrance. This appears to be the most logical reason why there is no public naming and shaming, let alone systematic monitoring, of laggards and ignorant countries.

Manfred Gerstenfeld notes that de-Judaization is a central element of the abuse and distortion of Holocaust memory.[14] This finding holds particularly true when looking at the extremely broad definition of Holocaust victims being employed by the Council of Europe. Whereas the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research unequivocally stresses that Holocaust describes the deportation and mass murder of Jews, the council extends this term to numerous victims of the Nazi regime, for instance, Romani people, homosexuals, the disabled, and Jehovah’s Witnesses (interestingly, people deemed “asocial” according to Nazi diction are never mentioned). In some of the materials released by the council, even Soviet prisoners of war, the Polish elite, Russian and Serbian resistance fighters, and Spanish Republicans are included. This imprecise definition comes at the expense of historical accuracy.

In a similar vein, Dan Diner juxtaposes the clearly historical view of Jews asking why it was they who were to be collectively annihilated, with the non-Jewish perspective that tends to be concerned with anthropological lessons arising from the Holocaust.[15] The institutional setup of Holocaust remembrance in the Council of Europe replicates this dichotomy. The fight against anti-Semitism does not form part and parcel of the Holocaust-education portfolio, which subscribes to the universalistic imperative of “Never Again” without paying due attention to the specifically Jewish quest of “Never Again Us.” Likewise, the initiative in the fields of restitution of and compensation for looted Jewish assets launched in the early 2000s by Emanuelis Zingeris, a Lithuanian member of the council’s Parliamentary Assembly, has not been transposed into a permanent area of action.

In addition, something even more troubling has to be observed. The door is pushed wide open to what one could call the re-Judaization of non-Jewish experiences of victimhood. Levy and Sznaider come to the conclusion that the Holocaust has undergone a transformation from a crime empirically committed by Germans, Austrians, and other Europeans against the Jews to a paradigm for innocent suffering and victimhood. Perpetrators are being equated with the Nazis, while victims claim that their fate resembles the Jewish one during the Holocaust.[16]

Narrowing down this finding to the Council of Europe’s politics of Holocaust remembrance, the Jewish perspective has been adopted in various cases. An extremely striking example is the high-level ministerial seminar on Holocaust remembrance that was held in Strasbourg in 2002. The Greek representative claimed that over the centuries the Greek people, like others, had had to suffer bitterly from crimes against humanity, and that Greek Christians had protected their Jewish neighbors under life-threatening conditions.[17] For a similarly disturbing message, the Hungarian delegate chose a slightly more subtle tone, stating at the same event that the Holocaust did not only affect half a million Hungarian Jews who had been killed in camps, but all ten million citizens who were lucky enough to survive.[18] What can be discerned here is neither the depiction of one’s own national past as heroic nor a simple negation of the suffering inflicted on the Jews, but the hijacking of the Jewish perspective – victimhood is idealized, as if extermination were a privilege one should long for.

The widespread talk of the two dictatorships in parts of Central and Eastern Europe (e.g., the Baltic countries, Poland, Hungary, the Western regions of Ukraine), that is, the equation of Nazism and real socialism, has not stopped at the gates of the Council of Europe. In September 2009, twenty-one Estonian, Finnish, Georgian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Swedish, Ukrainian, and Cypriot members of the council’s Parliamentary Assembly coming from all party groups signed a written declaration on World War II and the denunciation of totalitarian crimes. In doing so, they demanded that Stalinist and communist crimes be treated and condemned as has happened so far with the Nazi atrocities. They also asked the Russian Federation to apologize for Stalinism in order to facilitate the deepening integration of all European nations.[19]

Europeans as Bystanders: Implementing the Politics of Holocaust Remembrance

A very common wording to celebrate both the general significance of the Council of Europe’s work in the promotion of human rights, the rule of law, and plural democracy and to justify its specific dedication to Holocaust remembrance reads, “Never again after the horrors of World War II…” In a brochure on the history and work of the council that was released in 2010, the chapter on the European Convention on Human Rights is headed with “Never Again!” and further continues, “When the Nuremberg Tribunal, the world’s first international court, concluded its hearings in 1949 public opinion was determined that something must be done to secure human rights for the future, and ensure that dictatorship and barbarism never got another chance.”[20]

This perspective is best characterized as the bystanders’ one. Though the author of the above-quoted sentence hides more precise ascriptions behind the vague term “public opinion,” she zeroes in on a general postwar discomfort. The policies that were developed in the Council of Europe adopt this notion to a great extent. Former dividing lines of distinct, at times opposite experiences of individuals, groups, and nations during the Holocaust are gradually being replaced with a pan-European and even human vocation to remember and to strive for a better future.

To be sure, Holocaust remembrance and respective pedagogical schemes are not objectionable per se, but the leveling of historical differences is. Holocaust Memorial Day, which is commemorated in most European countries on 27 January and strongly promoted by the Council of Europe to be held in all school settings as a “Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and of Prevention of Crimes against Humanity,” is a telling case in point. Ignoring the fact that the death marches and other Nazi crimes were committed after this almost iconic date, pupils across Europe commemorate the Holocaust as a catastrophe for mankind (depending on the sensitivity of class teachers, the unprecedented suffering of the Jews is emphasized), and not as deliberate crimes that particular individuals and collectives are guilty of. This prompts nothing but a trite exercise, during which all nations and human beings should be somewhat ashamed of the past, whereas varying degrees of responsibility and post-Nazist continuities are masked.

A book written by the French educator and textbook author Jean-Michel Lecomte and published under the auspices of the Council of Europe discloses a further ill development in Holocaust remembrance. In Teaching about the Holocaust in the 21st Century,[21] Lecomte compiled fifty factsheets on topics such as, among others, anti-Semitism, race, crimes against humanity, the various victim groups of Nazism, deportation and extermination camps, the situation of the Jews in the occupied countries, and the military options of the Allied forces. Out of fifty sections, only eight deal with the postwar period, as if this were to play a minor role in teaching young people in the twenty-first century. The discussion of post-Holocaust anti-Semitism is restricted to the Polish pogroms of the late 1940s and 1950s.

Lecomte’s omission of the perpetrators and their willing collaborators is, however, no less outrageous. While readers are confronted with detailed descriptions of perishing in concentration camps, the gassing procedure, and the burning of the corpses, perpetrators are mentioned only twice and rather in passing. In one factsheet pieces of correspondence by Bormann, Eichmann, and Heydrich, and the protocols of the Wannsee Conference are quoted. In the chapter on the Einsatzgruppen in Minsk, one hears the empirically rare voice of a German commissioner who complains about the uncontrolled character of the mass killings. Lecomte even offers excuses for Germans and Austrians, who, according to him, should not be regarded as a monolithic pro-Nazist bloc.

For fairness’s sake, it must be added that the case of Lecomte’s book is extreme though not unique. The overarching type of remembrance is one that incriminates evil ideologies, be they anti-Semitism, racism, totalitarianism, antidemocratic attitudes, and so on, but dramatically fails to make perpetrators, collaborators and, especially in the early years of Nazism, the masses of cheering supporters visible. When turning the spotlight onto neo-Nazism, denial, or trivialization of the Holocaust in our days, the Council of Europe again condemns abstract ideologies without highlighting their very concrete proponents. It appears questionable how present and future generations should resist these ideologies without knowing their bearers and the politico-societal circumstances in which they rose to power.

Europeans as Rescuers: Honoring and Emulating the Righteous among the Nations

The politics of Holocaust remembrance in the Council of Europe are intertwined with the organization’s schemes on history teaching, human rights education, and democratic citizenship. Knowing the past is thus complemented by learning for a better future. Remarkably, it is thought that the righteous among the nations, that is, non-Jews who hid or otherwise saved Jews during the Holocaust, should serve as role models for (young) Europeans of today. A proposal put forward by the European Democracy Forum, an NGO headed by council official Francis Rosenstiel, seeks to advance the collective honoring of the European righteous among the nations. The spirit of resistance, it is maintained, should play a significant part in the peaceful democracies of our days as well.[22]

In 2008 and 2009, respectively, the permanent representations of Spain and Albania showcased two exhibitions on their countries’ righteous among the nations at the Council of Europe’s headquarters in Strasbourg. The Spanish exhibit put at center stage diplomats and civil servants who rescued Sephardic Jews across Europe; the Albanian one focused on Muslim families who helped Jews thanks to a traditional code of honor. The leitmotif of the exhibition and the pertinent catalog indicates that simple good-hearted people, neither wealthy nor otherwise influential, could make a life-changing difference in their own environment.[23]

The turn to the righteous among the nations in current European politics of Holocaust remembrance has three major implications. First, pupils, who are the principal target group of this Council of Europe policy and who are viewed as largely indifferent, should be reached with easily accessible examples of honorable behavior. Hence, the specific actions of righteous among the nations in their efforts to rescue Jews are translated into a more general blueprint for desirable social behavior. Second, the focus on everyday routine forms of resistance depoliticizes the narrative of the fight against Nazism. It can only be speculated whether the fact that a large share of the resistance fighters were armed and communist does not fit into the current tale of seemingly apolitical, deideologized good-citizenship behavior.

Third, this trend corresponds with the individualization of political responsibility. No longer is civil society the addressee of politics of remembrance but the individual citizen who is encouraged to work toward small changes for a more democratic, pluralistic, and peaceful society in her/his own proximity. This does not, however, imply the casting of doubt on any form of -national or European – societal consensus that generates discrimination and oppression, and constantly reproduces anti-Semitism. One may welcome the individualization of democratic citizenship but has to bear in mind that in the specific case of Holocaust education it hardly ever becomes individualized enough to prompt any self-critical evaluation of one’s socialization, family biography, or authoritarian patterns of upbringing. The rescuers’ perspective remains one of people who displayed or currently display honorable behavior without ever asking about their own political motives or profoundly questioning the conditions under which their actions take place.

Conclusion: Evil Ideologies, Invisible Perpetrators, Rescuers worth Emulating

A pan-European organization such as the Council of Europe is confronted with a plethora of diverging, sometimes conflicting national narratives when it comes to the history of the Holocaust and World War II. Fostering the principle of multiperspectivity, neither the organs of the Strasbourg-based body nor its forty-seven member states attempt to create one uniform European master narrative. However, the transnational politics of Holocaust remembrance involves a certain degree of streamlining. This is done by emphasizing particular aspects of Nazi crimes against humanity to the detriment of others.

More precisely, the perpetrators’ perspective is of subordinated importance in the Council of Europe’s efforts. West Germany was admitted back to the European and world community of democratic states early after the defeat of the Nazi regime – not to speak of Austria, which played the first-victim card up to the late 1980s. In addition, accession to the council in the post-1989 era has not been tied to specific requirements regarding country’s politics of the past but to more general criteria concerning the respect of human rights, the rule of law, and plural democracy. Quite to the contrary, the Jewish perspective is regularly hijacked in two ways: by de-Judaizing it, that is, by lumping together historically different experiences of persecution and murder during Nazism; or be re-Judaizing, which means that real or perceived forms of victimhood on the part of non-Jews are  falsely but deliberately equated with the Holocaust.

No less prevalent is the bystanders’ perspective. According to it, all contemporary Europeans should have some feelings of shame – ideally cumulating on an annual remembrance day – but none are actually highlighted as responsible and guilty. This goes hand in gloves with the denunciation of evil ideologies while simultaneously omitting the names and roles of perpetrators, collaborators, and the cheering masses of supporters. To put it succinctly, the retrospective offered in numerous Council of Europe publications suggests an anti-Semitism without anti-Semites.

Finally, the rescuers’ perspective has recently gained significance. Beyond doubt, people who risked their lives to save Jews from extermination deserve high regard. The problematic tendency, however, lies in the role-model character attributed to the purportedly apolitical behavior of the righteous among the nations for democratic citizenship in our days.

It is worth concluding with a thought-provoking statement by Francis Rosenstiel, who as a French Jew could escape the Nazi murderers in his childhood and later pursued a top-level career at the Council of Europe. He states that “Council of Europe functionaries earn good money on our corpses,” while it is “Himmler’s post-mortem success” that the ritual of Holocaust remembrance remains a necessity without alternatives.[24] The problem is not Holocaust remembrance as such but the very practices in which Europeans, the young generation in particular, are encouraged to commemorate and learn lessons from the atrocious crimes against humanity that Germans, Austrians, and their European collaborators committed against the Jews.

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* The author would like to thank the editors and anonymous reviewers for their insightful suggestions. Naturally, any errors or omissions are solely the author’s.

[1] A note on terminology: throughout this essay the word Holocaust is used instead of Shoah, since it is the internationally more common term to describe the mass extermination of the European Jews. Nevertheless, Yehuda Bauer is correct in maintaining that the unprecedented crimes committed against Jews are empirically distinguishable from other Nazi crimes such as the genocide of the Roma; see Yehuda Bauer, Die dunkle Seite der Geschichte: Die Shoah in historischer Sicht – Interpretationen und Re-Interpretationen (Frankfurt: Juedischer Verlag im Suhrkamp-Verlag, 2001) [German]. This having been said, the highly differing Holocaust definitions employed by European and international governmental and nongovernmental actors in the field of the politics of remembrance have to be borne in mind.

[2] Raul Hilberg, Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders: The Jewish Catastrophe 1933-1945 (New York: Aaron Asher Books, 1992).

[3] Daniel Levy and Natan Sznaider, The Holocaust and Memory in the Global Age (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2005).

[4] Cf. ibid.

[5] Patrick Garcia (2008), “Vers une politique mémorielle européenne? L’evolution du statut de l’histoire dans le discours du Conseil de l’Europe,”  unpublished manuscript, 2008. [French]

[6] M. Rainer Lepsius (1993), “Das Erbe des Nationalsozialismus und die politische Kultur der Nachfolgestaaten des ‘Großdeutschen Reiches,'” in M. Rainer Lepsius, ed.,  Demokratie in Deutschland (Goettingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht), 229-45. [German]

[7] Frank Sobich, “Von Mitteleuropa zur Europäischen Union: Wie (West-) Deutschland Europa umwälzt, um sich die Welt nutzbar zu machen,” in Ilka Schröder, ed., Weltmacht Europa – Hauptstadt Berlin? (Hamburg: Konkret, 2005), 38-60. [German]

[8] Achim Trunk, Europa, ein Ausweg: Politische Eliten und europäische Identität in den 1950er Jahren (Munich: Oldenbourg, 2007), 166. [German]

[9] Rayk Wieland, “Dialog mit den Kunden. Zur Debatte um das Holocaust-Mahnmal,” in Wolfgang Schneider, ed., Wir kneten ein KZ. Aufsätze über Deutschlands Standortvorteil bei der Bewältigung der Vergangenheit (Hamburg: Konkret, 2000),  71-103. [German]

[10] Jens Kroh, “Erinnerungskultureller Akteur und geschichtspolitisches Netzwerk. Die ‘Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research,'” in Jan Eckel and Claudia Moisel, eds., Universalisierung des Holocaust? (Goettingen: Wallenstein, 2008), 156-73, at 173. [German]

[11] It should be highlighted that Israel, though it only enjoys observer status to the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, actively contributes to the shaping of the council’s politics of remembrance, particularly thanks to a cooperation with Yad Vashem.

[12] Interview by the author with Cecilie Felicia Stokholm Banke, Danish Institute for International Studies, Copenhagen, 15 May 2009.

[13] Tony Judt,  Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945 (London: Penguin Press, 2005), 803.

[14] Manfred Gerstenfeld, The Abuse of Holocaust Memory: Distortions and Responses (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs/Anti-Defamation League, 2009), 79.

[15] Dan Diner, Gegenläufige Gedächtnisse: Über Geltung und Wirkung des Holocaust (Goettingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2007). [German]

[16] Cf. Levy and Sznaider, Holocaust and Memory.

[17] Statement by Greece, in Council of Europe, ed., Day of Remembrance: Ministerial Seminar Proceedings (Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 2002), 98.

[18] Statement by Hungary (2002), in Council of Europe, ibid., 84.

[19] Written Declaration 429 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, 2009. This declaration has to be seen in conjunction with the establishment of the Day of Remembrance for Totalitarian Crimes (23 August) by the European Parliament in the same year.

[20] Aline Royer, The Council of Europe (Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 2010), 20.

[21] Jean-Michel Lecomte, Teaching about the Holocaust in the 21st Century (Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 2001).

[22] Francis Rosenstiel, “Collective Tribute to the ‘Righteous’ of Europe at the Council of Europe,”  2007, www.coe.nt/t/e/ingo/public/Tribute_to_the_righteous_en.doc (last accessed on 10 May 2009).

[23] Norman Gershman, Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II (New York: Syracuse University Press, 2008).

[24] Interview by the author with Francis Rosenstiel, European Democracy Forum and goodwill ambassador for political research at the Council of Europe, Strasbourg, 30 April 2009 (author’s translation).

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DR. ELISABETH KUEBLER studied political science and Jewish studies at the Universities of Vienna and Tel Aviv, and completed her PhD on European Holocaust remembrance at the University of Vienna. Currently she is doing an additional master’s degree in European studies at the London School of Economics. She is a lecturer at the Department of Government of the University of Vienna, and college professor at the Lauder Business School, Vienna.