Transnational Experiences and Reflections on Historical-Political Education/Holocaust Education in the Classroom

TOLI held its second seminar in Innsbruck, Austria in March of 2018. This seminar, which first launched in 2016, was the first bi-national initiative in its organizational history. It gives American and Austrian educators the opportunity to explore together the powerful lessons of the Holocaust and the educational challenges they face when teaching the Holocaust in their classrooms.

Entitled Transnational Experiences and Reflections on Historical-Political Education/Holocaust Education in the Classroom, the seminar is a collaboration of TOLI and the Bundesrealgymnasium in der Au, a combined public middle school and high school that hosted the program. Both the Future Fund of the Republic of Austria and the Pädagogischen Hochschule Tirol provided additional funding to the first iteration of this program.

The seminar creates a forum for participants to explore the differences in the way Americans and Austrians talk about the history of National Socialism and the Holocaust. But teachers also have the chance to exchange approaches and methodologies gleaned from their own classroom experiences, and to discuss the broader issues of historical-political and Holocaust education they face in their respective countries.

Participants spend six days exploring the unique historical narratives of Austria and the United States, paying particular attention to what is remembered and commemorated on both the national and individual levels. They also bring those lessons into the present, closely examining issues of social justice, xenophobia, and exclusion to find parallels in today’s world. Finally, they collaborate in small groups, developing new educational units to address these issues with their students and school communities.

During the 2016 program, guest speakers included a representative from the memorial site at Hartheim Castle, a former euthanasia killing center. In addition, a professor from the Esslingen University of Applied Sciences offered a workshop on the use of biographies in classrooms as the entrée to a discussion about history, representation, and empathy. To set the topics explored during the seminar within the context of authentic places, participants also traveled offsite to the former Dachau concentration camp and the Jewish Museum in Munich in a meaningful culmination to the seminar program.

In 2018, the seminar included a visit to Hartheim Castle, survivor testimonies from Frau Goldman and Frau Heilman, workshops with Professor Claudia Rauchegger-Fischer from the University of Innsbruck and Karsten Krieger from the Jewish Museum in Berlin, and a synagogue visit followed by walking tour of Innsbruck with Silke Jung.



Objectives of the seminar in Austria:

  • Become acquainted with new student-centered approaches and methods derived from the classroom
  • Practice writing as a method of research, study, and reflection
  • Explore different narratives of the history of National Socialism and the Holocaust
  • Deepen the knowledge of Jewish life and Jewish culture before and after the Holocaust
  • Exchange transnational views on Holocaust Education and issues of social justice (European and transatlantic framework)
  • Discuss current challenges in the classroom, such as anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and Xenophobia
  • Discuss connections between Holocaust education and the influence of stereotypes, prejudice, and other mechanisms of exclusion at the level of the individual, a social group, and society

The seminar is a cooperation of the Bundesrealgymnasium in der Au, Innsbruck, and the Memorial Library and the Olga Lengyel Institute, New York. It is generously supported by the Future Fund of the Republic of Austria and the Pädagogischen Hochschule Tirol.





For more information about The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights (TOLI), please contact

TOLI is located at 58 East 79th Street in Manhattan. (get directions)