TOLI 2018 Transnational Seminar in Austria


In mid-March of 2018, 12 TOLI teachers traveled from various parts of the United States to attend TOLI’s second transnational seminar, “Being in Dialogue: Social Engagement through Holocaust Awareness.”

The seminar took place at the Bundesrealgymnasium in der Au, a new and innovative high school located in the heart of Innsbruck, nestled within the towering Austrian alps that can be seen from every window in the school. The Americans were joined by 15 Austrian educators who, like the US teachers, work in middle schools, high schools and colleges.

The seminar was led by TOLI directors, Sondra Perl and Jennifer Lemberg, along with Nadine Ulsess-Schurda, a TOLI educator from Innsbruck. Together the group explored Austrian and American family stories and national narratives that surround our understandings of World War II and the Shoah. The Americans, as a group, were struck by the poignancy of exploring this past in the land of the perpetrators. The Austrians were struck by the openness and optimism that the Americans bring to this work.

We spent time during the seminar with two Holocaust survivors who now live in Vienna. Frau Heilman was hidden as a child by a non-Jewish friend of her father. Frau Goldman survived Terezin, Auschwitz, and a work camp along with her mother. We also participated in a day-long workshop on anti-Semitism with Karsten Kreiger of the Jewish Museum in Berlin, and we took a day-long trip to Castle Hartheim in upper Austria, one of six euthanasia sites that were created by the Nazis to exterminate the disabled.

With ample food and good fellowship, the seminar brought a group of Holocaust educators together to deepen their practice. What was also deepened was, in the words of Wendy Warren, TOLI’s satellite seminar coordinator, “a greater understanding of the human capacity for hate and, more importantly, for love.”


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)