FROM THE PRESIDENT

Dear Visitor,

As human beings, it seems we are always looking either to the past or the future: the past is where we seek to  garner wisdom from our individual and collective experience, while we look to the future in the hope of better things  to come…. It is very common for a child to dream of a perfect world; one that its parents and grandparents were  unable to create. And often, as adults, we may still rely on that child’s dreamlike vision of the future.

    Just a decade ago people were calling the twentieth century the bloodiest century in all human history and  earnestly hoping that the new century would be some sort of a turning point for mankind: a time of tolerance and  mutual understanding. But of course this never happened. Massacres, ethnic cleansings, atrocities, and  persecution continued their pestilential depredations. Hatred may not be the prevailing force in human affairs; nevertheless its workings continue to deprive millions and millions of people of a normal life—one in which dignity, safety and, often, basic human rights are assured.

    We at the Museum cannot provide answers for every question nor devise a formula for universal tolerance, understanding, and respect. However, we contribute our efforts to the struggle of so many for the ideals of humanity, for human rights, and for freedom for every human being.

   Humanity is one family, and we strongly believe that members of that family are capable of finding a common language to solve their problems.

 Our current exhibition, “From ‘A Crime Without A Name’ to ‘Genocide’: The Simele Massacre of Assyrians in Iraq, August 1933” relates the almost unknown tragedy that, along with other such events, spurred Raphael Lemkin to act forcefully on behalf of the victims of prejudice and hatred. His efforts resulted in the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

  Our work continues in the preparation of a new exhibition, “The First Genocide of the 20th Century: the Herero and Nama Massacre in German South-West Africa, 1904.” This will focus on the history of the first concentration camps and medical experiments on humans, as they were perpetrated by German colonizers in Africa in the first decade of the 20th century.

   Overall, our aim is to enrich our visitors’ knowledge and understanding of the problems which continue to plague the planet and turn their attention to the problems which still trouble the world.

Igor A. Kotler

President and Executive Director

MHRFT co-sponsors the International Symposium on the Holocaust and Genocide Education

The Museum of Human Rights, Freedom and Tolerance (MHRFT) and the Center for the Study of Genocide, Conflict Resolution and Human Rights (CGHR) of The Rutgers University together with the Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Center, the NJ State Commission on Holocaust Education and the Bloomfield School District co-sponsored the International Symposium on the Holocaust and Genocide Education which included scholars and educators from Russia, Finland and the US conducted at the Rutgers University in Newark, NJ on November 6-8, 2012. As a result of the Symposium, the Holocaust educators from Russia and the US have established a lasting partnership that will help improve the education on the Holocaust and genocide in both countries. This major accomplishment was achieved in spite of the extreme weather challenges posed by the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and a snowstorm in the midst of the event on Nov 7.

The goal of the Symposium was to exchange ideas and establish cooperation in developing educational programs on the Holocaust and genocide between the American and Russian educators. The participants of the event included the scholars and educators from the US, Russia, Finland and Armenia. In addition to the sponsoring organizations, the institutions represented at the event included the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation and the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute. 

 

The event program featured presentations, panel discussions and working sessions on a broad range of topics related to making the Holocaust and genocide education more effective in serving its purpose of preventing genocide and persecution and teaching tolerance. The list of presenters and participants included the world-renowned scholars and leaders in the Holocaust and genocide research and education, such as:

  • Dr. Ilya Altman, a Russian historian and the founder and co-chairman of the Russian 
  • Research and Educational Holocaust Center in Moscow, 
  • Dr. Alex Hinton, The Rutgers University professor and chairman of the CGHR, 
  • Dr. Suren Manukyan, Visiting Fulbright scholar from Armenia, 
  • Dr. Steven Bronner, The Rutgers University professor,
  • Igor Kotler, President and Executive Director of the MHRFT
  • Dr. Johan Bäckman,  Finnish historian, political scientist, human rights activist and book 
  • publisher
  • Nela Navarro, Associate Director/Director of Education, Center for the Study of Genocide, Conflict Resolution and Human Rights

The Russian delegation also included: 

  • Alexander Engels, Director of the Museum of History of the Jewish Heritage and Holocaust in Moscow
  • Dr. Alexey Feldt, Deputy Director of the Institute of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences and the Associate Professor of the World History Department at the Northern (Arctic) Federal University in Russia
  • Yuri Dombrovsky, Chairman of the Holocaust Memorial Board of the Russian Jewish Congress
  • Tatiana Pasman, Coordinator of Educational Programs of the Center of Civic Education of the Pskov Regional Teachers-in-Service Institute

Also actively participating in the event were the Rutgers University students. During the event, the Russian delegation made a presentation at the United Nations titled “From Forgotten Memory to Nascent Remembrance: Holocaust History and Education in Russia Today”, organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information under its Outreach Program. As part of that presentation, Dr. Ilya Altman chaired a discussion on the history of the Holocaust in the former Soviet Union and the evolution of the Holocaust education today in Russia.

 

The Symposium created a solid foundation for a long-lasting relationship between the organizations across the globe, united by the common goal of making the world a better place to live by using education to fight genocide, persecution, intolerance and prejudice. Our heartfelt gratitude goes to the institutional and private donors for helping make this remarkable event happen. 

 

 

Upcoming programs and events

Cultural programsAs part of its mission to promote cultural awareness the Museum has created a concert series that present a powerful message of hope and tolerance. The theme for the series is “Never Losing Hope: Music of the Oppressed in the 20th Century.” The series offers mixed programs featuring classical, jazz and folk music interspersed with poetry readings and video and audio selections. All programs also feature cultural and historical discussions.The next concert of the series will be held at the Bloomfield, NJ School District. Please stay tuned for further announcements.

Exhibitions

The next major exhibition in the works is titled “The First Genocide of the Twentieth Century: Massacre of Herero and Nama in the German South West Africa.” The exhibition will tell the story of the first genocide of the 20thcentury and its origins, the history of first concentration camps and how this first experience might be connected the Holocaust. The Museum is also working on the interactive exhibition titled “The First Soviet Ethnic Cleansing: Stalin's Deportation of Koreans in 1937.” The goal of this exhibition is to expose the real and present danger of ethnic persecution by telling the story about the first mass transfer of an entire ethnic group committed by the Soviet Union, when almost the entire Soviet population of ethnic Koreans (over 170,000) was forcefully moved from the Russian Far East to unpopulated areas of Kazakhstan in 1937.

New cultural and educational program is off to a good start

December, 2011

The inaugural concert of the program entitled “Never Losing Hope: Different Voices of Contemporary Music” by the Museum of Human Rights, Freedom and Tolerance (MHRFT) took place on December 4, 2011 at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) Campus Center in Newark, NJ.

 The concert program featured the music composed by the Argentinean master Astor Piazzolla and an Italian great Nino Rota along with modern jazz masterpieces, performed by Julian Milkis (clarinet), Regina Mushabac (cello), Dr.Luba Sindler and Dimitrie D. Vasiljevic (piano). Each part of the program was introduced with an overview of the cultural and historic context in which the music was created.

 The concert also featured brief introductory notes by the members of the Board of the Museum and the Chairman of the Founders’ Club Dr. Arthur Greyf. The concert was very well received by the grateful audience. It sets off a good start for many more events and cultural programs to follow.The concert organizers and artists extend their heartfelt gratitude to the staff and faculty members of the New Jersey Institute of Technology for their invaluable contribution and help in organizing and conducting this memorable event.

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