Keeping remembrance alive in times of adversity


2020 presented us all with challenges that few were expecting. A pandemic swept across the globe, claiming the lives of many. Among those lost were survivors of the Holocaust, whom we now come together to remember in new ways.

Only in the first weeks of 2020 could in-person commemoration events take place. Despite the challenges, commemoration of the Holocaust and the genocide of Roma continued throughout the year, taking the form of online ceremonies, webinars, and other virtual events. I am heartened by the commitment to these digital formats of commemoration, which have allowed us to continue to remember the victims and survivors. The German Presidency of the IHRA, chaired by Ambassador Michaela Küchler, acted swiftly to make digital commemoration one of its focus areas. At the IHRA Plenary Sessions, held for the first time in a virtual format, digital commemoration and tools for facilitation took center stage. Our community has a vital role to play in this development, and it has stepped up to the challenge.

All members of the IHRA have pledged to counter Holocaust denial and distortion. On 26 January, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas announced the creation of a new Global Task Force. One year later, this has resulted in the publication of Recognizing and Countering Holocaust Distortion: Recommendations for Policy and Decision Makers in partnership with UNESCO, and the global social media campaign Protect the Facts with the European Commission, the United Nations and UNESCO. And on 27 January 2021, the United Nations Holocaust Memorial Ceremony and the panel discussion that followed were held in cooperation with the IHRA and UNESCO. The close cooperation with these Permanent International Partners remains one of our core strengths.

Kathrin Meyer edited

In October, years of hard work by the expert members of the Committee on the Genocide of the Roma resulted in the adoption of the working definition of antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination. I would like to echo the words of Ambassador Küchler: “I am delighted that we have taken collective action today to confront this evil.” With this, we will continue our important work to raise awareness about anti-Roma sentiment and to safeguard the historical record of the genocide of the Roma.

Further, the recognition of the IHRA as an international institution by the Federal Republic of Germany, finalized in the last days of the German Presidency, will further promote our Alliance, our mandate, and our work for the future. In a world of rising antisemitism, antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination, and new threats of genocide, this stronger recognition makes a very real difference.

Signature KathrinDr. Kathrin MeyerIHRA Secretary General


  1. From the left, Bruce Buck, Lord John Mann, Frank Lampard, and IHRA Secretary General Dr. Kathrin Meyer. Credit: Chelsea FC.

    17 January 2020

    Chelsea FC adopts the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, becoming the first sports team in the world to do so. Chelsea FC Chairman Bruce Buck says, “There is still a long way to go, but the fight against antisemitism is one that we believe is necessary. There can be no place in our game or our societies for antisemitism or any form of discrimination and we are proud to encourage those around us to join this vital cause.”

    23 January 2019
  2. 19 January 2020

    Ministers and representatives of 35 countries gather in Brussels to reaffirm their commitment to the IHRA’s vision – A world that remembers the Holocaust. A world without genocide – with the 2020 IHRA Ministerial Declaration.

    19 January, 2020
  3. 21 February 2020

    IHRA Chair Ambassador Georges Santer and IHRA Secretary General Dr. Kathrin Meyer attend a conference hosted by the Holy See in preparation for the opening of the archives Pope Pius XII, who served as head of the Catholic Church from 1939 to 1958. They are introduced to the archives by Vatican experts and meet with Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin.

    21 February, 2020
  4. IHRA Chair Ambassador Michaela Küchler

    3 March 2020

    Ambassador Michaela Küchler of Germany takes over the IHRA Presidency from Ambassador Georges Santer of Luxembourg. The official handover ceremony takes place at the House of Representatives in Berlin and is attended by members of the diplomatic corps representing the IHRA’s Member Countries. "We will preserve the memory of the victims and survivors forever. We will do everything we can to ensure that the legacy of the murdered men, women, and children remains inscribed in the memory of humanity," Ambassador Küchler says.

    3 March, 2020
  5. Credit: IHRA

    16 June 2020

    Seven excellent projects are found to align this year with the IHRA’s strategy and Grant Program objectives. In 2020 the IHRA supports various initiatives including exhibitions, training workshops, mapping projects, conferences and the development of recommendations.

    16 June 2020
  6. Credit: Florian Gaertner

    29 June – 2 July 2020

    The IHRA hosts the Berlin plenary meetings – the first held under the German Presidency and the first held virtually in the IHRA’s history. 285 delegates from all IHRA Member, Liaison and Observer Countries, and Permanent International Partners join in, and are welcomed by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and local institutions.

    In his address to the Plenary, IHRA Honorary Chairman Professor Yehuda Bauer says, "We need freedom of research. We need freedom of speech and freedom of writing. We need a free society, where we can deal with the distortion of the Holocaust in order to approach the truth as closely as we possibly can."

    At the Berlin Plenary, IHRA Member Countries adopt the IHRA Statement on Rehabilitation condemning “all attempts to rehabilitate the reputations of persons who were complicit in the crimes of the Holocaust and the genocide of the Roma.” This is the fourth IHRA Statement in the organization's history.

    2 July 2020
  7. IHRA Chair Ambassador Michaela Küchler.

    2 August 2020

    The commemoration ceremony to mark the 76th anniversary of the extermination of Roma and Sinti in Auschwitz-Birkenau is held virtually. IHRA Chair Ambassador Michaela Küchler addresses the audience: "It remains our responsibility as governments, but also as citizens and democrats, to ensure that the history of this genocide and suffering are not forgotten and to combat the marginalization and prejudices Roma still face today.”

    2 August, 2020
  8. Credit: Florian Gaertner.

    10 September 2020

    IHRA Chair Ambassador Michaela Küchler attends the digital conference “Working together to fight antisemitism in Europe” held as part of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Addressing the audience, Ambassador Küchler says, “Of course, the working definition does not stand alone in the fight against antisemitism. It is one piece – an essential piece – of a larger mosaic of projects, guidelines and recommendations, memorials and museums, and research. When taken together, it contributes to a world that remembers the Holocaust, to a world without genocide, to a world where antisemitism has no place.”

    September 10, 2020
  9. Credit: IHRA

    5 October 2020

    “With international cooperation, we can address the erosive effect extremist ideologies have on democratic values and pluralistic societies. I am joined by the Heads of Delegation of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden in condemning the actions of such groups and underlining our shared understanding of their harmful nature," IHRA Chair Ambassador Michaela Küchler says in a statement on the antisemitic campaign by the Nordic Resistance Movement.

    October 5, 2020
  10. Credit: IHRA

    7 October 2020

    "The news of yesterday's attack on a Hamburg synagogue left me with a deep feeling of unease. The IHRA stands in solidarity with the Jewish community in Hamburg and wishes the victim a speedy recovery," IHRA Chair Ambassador Michaela Küchler states. "This is, as German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas rightly pointed out, unfortunately not a one-off case. One year after the attack in Halle, we see that the threat to Germany's Jewish community remains."

    October 7, 2020
  11. Credit: Ternype

    8 October 2020

    The IHRA's 34 Member Countries adopt a non-legally binding working definition of antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination during an extraordinary Heads of Delegation meeting, an important contribution to the implementation of Article 4 of the 2020 IHRA Ministerial Declaration in which Member and Liaison Countries pledge to “remember the genocide of the Roma [and] acknowledge with concern that the neglect of this genocide has contributed to the prejudice and discrimination that many Roma communities still experience today."

    8 October, 2020
  12. Credit: IHRA

    16 November 2020

    Over three weeks, from 16 November to 3 December, the IHRA hosts its Leipzig plenary meetings. 329 delegates from the IHRA’s Member, Liaison and Observer Countries, and representatives of its Permanent International Partners join the meetings. The German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas, Minister President of Saxony Michael Kretschmer, and Lord Mayor of Leipzig Burkhard Jung address the delegates.

    November 16, 2020
  13. Credit: IHRA

    25 November 2020

    IHRA Chair Ambassador Küchler states, "It is simply unacceptable to compare the inconveniences brought about by coronavirus measures with any part of the persecution and murder of Europe’s Jews. Doing so scorns the memory of the millions of victims of the Holocaust. I strongly condemn the Holocaust distortion and antisemitic conspiracy myths gaining traction at so-called 'Querdenker' demonstrations against coronavirus restrictions around Germany."

    November 25, 2020
  14. Credit: IHRA

    7 January 2021

    IHRA Chair Ambassador Michaela Küchler states, "As the world watched yesterday in shock at the storming of the US Capitol building, the consequences of hate speech and baseless conspiracy myths were laid bare. This latest antidemocratic outburst reveals the increasingly violent nature of this dangerous trend, found all over the world. It erodes democratic principles and values, incites hate and encourages scapegoating of minorities. It is one, which time and again, provides a platform for antisemitism and Holocaust denial and distortion. That yesterday's events featured right-wing militia groups and antisemitic extremists should come as no surprise; these phenomena have always attacked the very heart of our democracies and pluralistic societies."

    January 7, 2021
  15. Credit: European Commission

    8 January 2021

    The "Handbook for the Practical Use of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism” is published by the European Commission, in cooperation with the German Presidency of the IHRA. This Handbook shows how the working definition has been applied in the EU and the United Kingdom by governments and members of civil society. IHRA experts Mark Weitzman, 2020 Chair of the Museums and Memorials Working Group; Juliane Wetzel, 2021 Chair of the Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial; and Robert Williams, 2020 Chair of the Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial, review and also contribute to the project.

    January 8, 2021
  16. Credit: IHRA

    19 January 2021

    “Recognizing and Countering Holocaust Distortion: Recommendations for Policy and Decision Makers,” published in partnership with UNESCO, are launched. A virtual event for IHRA delegates and special guests is held where experts, Heads of Delegation and representatives of the IHRA’s Permanent International Partners discuss the challenges of addressing Holocaust distortion, focusing on ways the Recommendations will be implemented, and on special areas of attention.

    January 19, 2021
  17. Credit: IHRA

    25 January 2021

    The IHRA, together with the European Commission, the United Nations and UNESCO, launch the global campaign Protect the Facts. This year-long initiative seeks to raise awareness of the importance of recognizing and countering Holocaust distortion among policymakers, Holocaust-related institutions, civil society, and the general public. #ProtectTheFacts and #SayNoToDistortion

    January 25, 2021
  18. 27 January 2021

    The IHRA, the United Nations and UNESCO commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2021, reflecting upon this history and its enduring legacy. Chancellor Angela Merkel gives the keynote address at the UN General Assembly-mandated commemoration ceremony to mark the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, organized by the United Nations and UNESCO in cooperation with the IHRA on 27 January 2021. UN Secretary-General António Guterres and UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay also pay tribute to the victims of Nazi persecution in the online ceremony.

    The ceremony is followed by an online panel discussion on Holocaust denial and distortion with the participation of Robert Williams, the Chair of the Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial, Vice-President of the International Auschwitz Committee Marian Turski, Kindertransport survivor Hella Pick, historian Deborah Lipstadt and author Philippe Sands. CNN, the IHRA's media partner for this panel discussion, streams this important event and CNN anchor Hala Gorani moderates the discussion.

    Around the world, digital commemoration events are organized in honor of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust.

    January 27, 2021
  19. Credit: IHRA

    1 February 2021

    The IHRA Chair releases a statement in response to Holocaust historians being sued for presenting the findings of their work.

    February 1, 2021
  20. Credit: IHRA

    10 March 2021

    Addressing participants of the "Hate Speech and Antigypsyism in the Media Conference," organized by ERIAC, the Council of Europe Roma and Travellers Team, and the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, the IHRA Chair states, “action in this area is critical, for the future of Roma communities, and the viability of democratic societies around the world."

    March 10, 2021
  21. 25 March 2021

    The IHRA, together with the Auschwitz Institute for Genocide Prevention, screen the documentary "The Lesson" by Elena Horn. A panel discussion follows on the issues facing Holocaust education.

    March 25, 2021


Decisions and Highlights

  • Highlight

    "With the help of digital tools, the year 2020 led to great strides forward for our work in the IHRA. Among the successes were the adoption of the working definition of antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination, the presentation of Recommendations by the Global Task Force against Holocaust Distortion, initiated by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, the recognition of the IHRA as an International Institution by Germany, as well as deepened cooperation with the IHRA's Permanent International Partners. These are real, practical results that will have a tremendous impact on Holocaust education, remembrance, and research, and the fight to counter Holocaust distortion."

  • Highlight

    "The German Presidency of the IHRA felt like an all-hands on deck effort to tackle key challenges at maximum capacity and with the full urgency they deserve. Among my highlights was the adoption of a definition of antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination, offering new tools, as well as recognition, to an underserved community and its allies. Tremendously important as well has been the active engagement on the topic of disinformation, most notably through the Protect The Facts campaign – an important sign that the work to remember the Holocaust is closely linked to preserving the health of our society today."

  • Decision: Working Rules update

    In order to better reflect current practice, and as a step towards recognition as an International Institution by Germany, the IHRA's host country, the Plenary approved an update to the IHRA's Working Rules. With this update, the leadership of the IHRA by the Chair will be known as the IHRA Presidency.- BERLIN PLENARY, 1 JULY 2020

  • Highlight

    "My organization has been in touch with Holocaust survivors for the last 25 years. Above all, what we can give them is our attention. We need to be there for them. This is what we have been doing over this past year: being there for them, listening to them, because they are scared, because they see how quickly – due to a pandemic – people turn to scapegoating. That's what they are most shocked about. Whoever has phone numbers from survivors, please call them. They just want to know that we are there for them."

  • Decision: IHRA statement on rehabilitation

    The Plenary adopted a statement to condemn all attempts to rehabilitate the reputations of persons who were complicit in the crimes of the Holocaust and the genocide of the Roma.- BERLIN PLENARY, 2 JULY 2020

  • Highlight

    "It has been great to see the Recommen-dations for Teaching and Learning about the Holocaust so highly appreciated as an educa-tional tool. Only a month after their adoption, the Recommendations were translated into Croatian and presented at a national seminar. They are now being applied nationally and have been taken into consideration for Croatia's educational strategy. Several thematic workshops have been held since then. Croatia is also one of the IHRA Member Countries in which a special outreach campaign is being carried out, which enables us to bring the Recom-mendations to an even greater audience."

  • Highlight

    "Built on cooperation between leading experts on Holocaust scholarship and education, the work of the Global Task Force is a significant milestone in the fight against distortion of the Holocaust. It provides an essential foundation for understanding this troublesome phenomenon, and it offers several tools for governments and institutions to ensure a future for honest engagement with the Holocaust and its contemporary relevance."

    ROBERT WILLIAMS, 2020 Chair of the Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial and Distortion
  • Highlight

    "Virtual Plenary meetings confronted us with an unprecedented challenge for participation and personal interaction in 2020. However, the Plenaries were highly informative and allowed for real negotiations and important decision making, such as the adoption of the working definition of antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination. Most importantly, Working Group and Committee meetings allowed us to engage in collaboration with other delegations and organizations, inclu-ding for the translation of the Recommen-dations for Teaching and Learning into Span-ish, and for joining in efforts to prevent other genocides and crimes against humanity."

  • Highlight

    "Building sustainable partnerships and establishing truly global coalitions is a core goal of the Global Task Force Against Holocaust Distortion. To me, the fact that several major international organizations decided to speak with one voice to raise awareness about distortion and to #ProtectTheFacts is the key success of this initiative. In times of rising conspiracy theories, nationalism and right-wing ideologies, such collaboration is needed more than ever. The Recommendations developed by the IHRA’s highly committed experts form a solid foundation for policy and decision makers to take action."

  • Decision: Working definition adopted

    In an extraordinary meeting of Heads of Delegation, the Plenary adopted the non-legally binding working definition of antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination.- 8 OCTOBER 2020

  • Highlight

    "The Recommendations on recognizing and countering Holocaust distortion are the first comprehensive action plan for policy makers focused on this issue. Produced with excellent input from the most highly qualified IHRA and non-IHRA experts, the publication provides key information on this dangerous phenomenon and ensures the development of targeted measures to act against Holocaust distortion. These timely recommendations are a prime example of what we can achieve within the IHRA, and I look forward to supporting what will hopefully be a plethora of implementation activities in IHRA Member Countries."

    JULIANE WETZEL, 2021 Chair of the Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial and Distortion
  • Highlight

    “Under the German Presidency, the partner-ship between the IHRA and the European Commission produced very tangible results. The global social media campaign to Protect the Facts was launched by the European Commission, the IHRA, the United Nations, and UNESCO. From the onset, it received support from the highest levels, including President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, and UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. This campaign will combat and raise awareness about Holocaust distortion all around the world, thereby serving to protect democratic values.”

  • Highlight

    “I would like to congratulate the IHRA and the German Presidency, not only for producing the publication Recognizing and Countering Holocaust Distortion: Recommendations for Policy and Decision Makers in partnership with UNESCO, but also for taking the lead in addressing the problem of distortion, a courageous and challenging initiative. This effort supports fundamental areas of UNESCO’s mandate to uphold freedom of expression and address hate speech, and to promote Holocaust education and prevent antisemitism. These Recommendations represent a very timely and very important endeavor.”

  • Highlight

    “The pandemic is an existential crisis for museums and memorials, and it presents a fundamental challenge for the IHRA. After all, a core part of our mission, affirmed by the 2020 IHRA Ministerial Declaration, is to preserve and protect the authentic sites of the Holocaust, and to support those that memorialize and educate about the Holocaust and the genocide of the Roma. Under the current dire circumstances, we now must add to those commitments a financial commitment as well, or else the institutions that are the foundation of the IHRA might be forced to permanently close their gates.”

  • Highlight

    "Although the past year brought challenges never experienced before, there is no question that the work done for Holocaust education and remembrance as an IHRA Member Country was important and rewarding, and we have experienced many emotive events during the commemoration of 27 January. We are glad that we could organize the Official State Act in the Senate, although with a limited attendance. Many cities and schools in Spain did their best to keep the memory of the victims alive, sometimes lighting only a single candle to continue remembrance."

  • Decision: A-points

    The Plenary decided to approve the rules for application for Observer Country status, confirm Dr. Wichert ten Have as Advisor to the IHRA, and confirm the Working Group and Committee chairs for 2021.- LEIPZIG PLENARY, 2 DECEMBER 2020

Coming up



Presidency Handover to Greece, 1 April


Call for IHRA Grant Applications opens, mid-September


Second bi-annual Plenary Meetings under the Greek Presidency in Thessaloniki, 8 - 11 November


First bi-annual Plenary Meetings under the Greek Presidency online from Athens, 7 - 10 June


Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism, 13 - 14 October

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