On 22 and 23 March 2017, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance is holding a conference entitled “As Mass Murder Began: Identifying and Remembering the Killing Sites of Summer-Fall 1941” at the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum in Vilnius, Lithuania.
The conference is part of a broader IHRA Multi-Year Work Plan Programme on killing sites designed to offer insight into different approaches to exploring, studying and preserving killing sites. The conference is aimed primarily at governmental institutions and NGOs working in the field of killing sites.
The conference hashtag is #asmassmurderbegan
The conference will comprise a series of presentations and discussions around the central themes of identification, marking and commemoration of sites. The workshops will focus on the process of finding and identifying killing sites, topics related to research, archives and interviews as well as databases, preservation, marking and maintenance. Participants will be further offered the possibility to address legal and religious issues and solutions as well as questions on how to remember and educate. Geographical focus will be put on the Baltic States, Belarus, Ukraine and Romania.
The objective of the conference is to provide a forum in which those active in the field of mass killing sites will have an opportunity to exchange views, share issues, problems, solutions and best practices, thereby encouraging research, proper preservation, marking and maintenance of mass killing sites.
According to IHRA’s founding document, the Stockholm Declaration, IHRA Member Countries share a commitment “to encourage the study of the Holocaust in all its dimensions." Popular and official political commemorations, as well as much scholarly research, have tended to focus on the extermination camps, the gas chambers, and the ghettos. The field of research on killing sites, however, where mass shootings took place, is still relatively unknown. It was neglected for a long time and is in need of further attention. As an international body with experts from 31 member countries, IHRA can offer a neutral platform for international cooperation, it can reach out to a broader international community to encourage research, to raise public awareness and offer support and expertise to local initiatives.
Credit: Memory Road inititative, Lithuania. Tomas Kavaliauskas