Holocaust. Auschwitz concentration camp
Holocaust. Auschwitz concentration camp iStock

B’nai Brith Canada called for the implementation of a series of recommendations to keep Holocaust remembrance relevant after survivors are no longer with us.

David Matas, senior honourary Counsel to B’nai Brith Canada gave recommendations to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which was meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, on keeping Holocaust remembrance alive after survivors have passed away.

Matas who participated as a member of the Canadian delegation representing B’nai Brith, explained: “There was a constant concern running through the conference, the impending disappearance of the last of the Holocaust survivors.”

“The survivor population has been essential to giving contemporary relevance to Holocaust research, remembrance and education. Survivors could tell audiences: we were there, we saw it, it happened to us. How do we maintain that contemporary relevance, once the survivor population disappears?”

Matas provided a series of action points to IHRA delegates.

With archive material being critical to understanding the Holocaust, Matas urged easier access, including government of Canada archives legislation that needs to be amended to make Holocaust-related archives more accessible, including relevant exemptions to privacy legislation.

“In Canada, those archives would relate in particular to Nazi war crimes cases,” B’nai Brith said.

The plaque and interpretive panels on the National Holocaust Monument focus on all victims of the Nazis, with the Holocaust- the state sponsored, systematic persecution of Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945 – as a sub-category. They need to be reworked to keep a focus on the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and to refer to other victims only where they were linked to the Holocaust.

Matas also called for the National Holocaust Monument to be re-focused on Jewish victims of the Holocaust – instead of having the systematic persecution of Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945 as a sub-category – and to only focus on other victims where they were linked to the Holocaust.

“A proper consultation process with an independent body overseeing the process, together with scholars and community members, should be put into place to undertake the reworking of the plaque and interpretive panels. This stands in contrast to the original plaque and interpretative panels, that were implemented by the National Capital Commission (a Government body) and without community consultation.”