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Australia

Access to Archival Documents

The Australian government’s best practice guide to collecting cultural material directs collecting institutions to international databases of stolen art, including the INTERPOL Stolen Works of Art database, Art Loss Register, and national databases within relevant countries.  Certain Australian galleries have established their own databases documenting the provenance of their collections.  For example, the National Gallery of Australia’s Provenance Research Project, Art in Europe 1933-1945, transparently documents the provenance of all works in its collection presumed to have been in Europe between 1933 and 1945.

Education, Remembrance, Research, and Memorial Sites

In June 2019, Australia became a full member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).  In a statement, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs said, “Australia’s IHRA membership demonstrates our continuing commitment to combating anti-Semitism and protecting freedom of religion.”  Ceremonies marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day were held in Sydney and Melbourne on January 27, 2019, and a presentation by Holocaust survivors at the Sydney Jewish Museum was fully subscribed.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) reported that learning about the Holocaust is mandated in Australia’s national curriculum and in the curricula of every Australian state and territory, which public and private schools are required to follow.  For example, students in Year 10 (high school sophomore equivalent) examine “significant events of WWII, including the Holocaust.”  The inclusion of the Holocaust as part of the mandatory Year 10 curriculum was advocated by the ECAJ and included in the national curriculum beginning in 2008.

At least three institutions in the country have permanent exhibitions dedicated to Holocaust education and remembrance.  The Sydney Jewish Museum hosts a permanent Holocaust exhibition tracing the persecution and murder of European Jews and the new lives forged by survivors in Australia.  Perth hosts the Holocaust Institute of Western Australia, and Melbourne hosts the Jewish Holocaust Centre, a museum and resource center that exhibits photographs, artifacts, and documents donated by Melbourne Holocaust survivors.  The Holocaust is also documented as part of the Second World War Gallery at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, which welcomes more than one million visitors per year.

The Welfare of Holocaust (Shoah) Survivors and Other Victims of Nazi Persecution

Private social welfare organizations provide support to Holocaust survivors, including JewishCare Victoria and JewishCare New South Wales (NSW), both of which have received grants from the Claims Conference.  For example, JewishCare Victoria’s Holocaust Survivor Support Program assists eligible Holocaust survivors with tailored services, including in-home and personal care, therapies, and medical assistance.  Service providers such as JewishCare receive financial support from the Australian government.  According to the Claims Conference, JewishCare NSW serves 1,800 Sydney-based Holocaust survivors, most of whom are from Central Europe, and JewishCare Victoria serves approximately 1,500 Holocaust survivors in the state of Victoria.  In 2015, the Claims Conference budgeted 16,646,630 U.S. dollars for programs in Australia, consisting of direct compensation; social welfare services; and Shoah education, documentation, and research.

Belgium

Access to Archival Documents

ORE’s division of the National Archives stored post-World War II files relevant to recovering and registering looted art.  These files were transferred to the State Archives upon the dissolution of ORE in 1968, were digitalized in 2012, and are now available online.  The Office of War Damage keeps a record of all claims related to war damages, including plundering.  Records are searchable by both the property’s physical address and the physical address of the property’s owner.  The 1997 and 2001 Commissions’ findings regarding the archival documents are publicly available.  Copies of many records are available at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which has had good cooperation with Belgian archives.

Education, Remembrance, Research, and Memorial Sites

The Flemish, French, and German linguistic communities are responsible for education policy, including the development of educational programs on remembrance, tolerance, and citizenship.  Education on the Holocaust is a mandatory part of school curricula.  In 2014 and 2015, thousands of Belgian youths rode a train from Brussels to Auschwitz-Birkenau to attend the international commemoration of the liberation of Europe.  A similar initiative is planned for 2020.

Belgium joined the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in 2005 and observes International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.  Belgium’s Center for Historical Research and Documentation on War and Contemporary Society participates in the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure.  The Foundation of Contemporary Memory collects 20th century testimonials from the Jewish community in Belgium.

A monument at the Dossin Barracks in Mechelen solemnly marks the assembly point in Belgium where Jews and Roma were deported to concentration camps during World War II.  The monument is one of 40 monuments in Belgium dedicated to the remembrance of victims of the Holocaust.  The Jewish Museum of Belgium, which was the site of a terrorist attack on May 24, 2014, has a room dedicated to the victims and survivors of the Shoah.

Lithuania

Access to Archival Documents

Lithuania’s archival institutions, which cooperate with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, have begun digitizing all archival records.  The Lithuanian Central State Archives preserve the records of states, local governments, religious communities, organizations, other non-state institutions, and individuals, all of which are relevant to obtaining proof of property ownership.  The types of records the Archives maintain include civic registration records and birth, marriage, and death certificates.  The Archives will provide proof of Lithuanian citizenship for any individual born prior to June 15, 1940.  Interested parties can apply for a record by completing an online form.

In 1994, the Central State Archives, the Lithuanian Martynas Mažvydas National Library, and the Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences signed a cooperation agreement with the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research to begin the “Edward Blank YIVO Vilna Online Collections” project.  The project aims to catalogue, preserve, and digitize Lithuanian Jewish records and books in New York and Vilnius.  YIVO was founded in Vilnius but relocated to New York City after WWII; its collections are divided between Vilnius and New York.  This project will unite the collections virtually, thus resolving contentious fights over who owns them and where they should be kept.  In 2017, the Martynas Mažvydas National Library opened the Judaica Research Center, to which the YIVO Institute contributed approximately 170,000 pages of previously unknown documents.  In 2018, the YIVO Institute also digitized more than 2.6 million pages of books and archival documents and more than 950,000 images.

Education, Remembrance, Research, and Memorial Sites

In 2002, Lithuania became a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.  International Holocaust Remembrance Day is commemorated on January 27.  Every year, the presidentially appointed International Commission for the Evaluation of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania (the Commission) organizes 10 to 12 conferences for students to present projects about the Holocaust and the role of Lithuanian Jews in their local communities.  The Commission stresses the importance of students learning local history, as well as providing the students with an opportunity to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland or Yad Vashem in Israel.  Although still a sensitive issue, the Lithuanian government has begun to openly discuss the roles of both Nazi collaborators and Lithuanians who saved Jews during WWII.

Since 2002, the Commission has implemented a teacher training program entitled, “Teaching the Holocaust, Prevention of Crimes against Humanity, and Tolerance Education.”  The program helps teachers incorporate the Commission’s research into their curriculum, design programs to discredit stereotypes about Jews, promote tolerance and mutual understanding between Lithuanians and Jews and other minorities, and increase contact between schools, teachers, and students from Lithuania and other countries.  The Commission has also established a network of 152 tolerance centers, which are small research libraries in classrooms to provide teachers and students with peer-reviewed resources about the Holocaust and lesson plans for monthly activities.  Much of the work of the Commission was performed by international scholars from outside of Lithuania, including from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.  The Commission is also engaged in Holocaust research, aiming to fill gaps in Lithuania’s modern history, publicize new research, and inform citizens about Lithuania’s role in the Holocaust and the impact of the Holocaust in Lithuania and abroad.

There are several memorial sites in the country.  The Paneriai Memorial is located outside of Vilnius at the site where the Nazis and local collaborators murdered 70,000 Jews during WWII.  Every year on September 23, government leaders, diplomats, and local and international Jewish communities visit the Memorial to recognize Lithuania’s Holocaust Memorial Day, which marks the anniversary of the liquidation of the Vilnius ghetto.  From 2015 to 2017, researchers conducted a three-part excavation of the Memorial, discovering new massacre sites, guard posts, sites of former buildings, and trenches for prisoners.  Researchers also found additional information about Paneriai in Lithuania’s archives, as well as in archives of the United States, Israel, and Germany.  In 2019, the Ministry of Culture agreed to invest €3.4 million (approximately $3.7 million) to implement a multi-year Paneriai Memorial project, which will include additional archaeological studies.

Beginning in early July 1941, German Einsatzgruppe detachments (mobile killing units) and their Lithuanian auxiliaries began systematic massacres of Jews around the Kovno Ghetto (present-day Kaunas, Lithuania), according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.  Today, the Ninth Fort Museum and Memorial at this location commemorates the victims of the Nazi and Soviet occupations.  The museum features a reconstructed cell, as well as a detailed timeline of the Nazi occupation, including the mass murder of Jews in the Kovno Ghetto.  There is also a memorial to the diplomats who saved more than 2,000 Jewish lives, notably the Japanese Consul in Lithuania, Chiune Sugihara.

Lithuania requires primary and secondary schools to include lessons about the Holocaust in the history curriculum.  Instructors may also incorporate Holocaust topics in their ethics, religion, civic education, and literature classes.  Students are tested on their knowledge of the Holocaust during state exams, including the national history exam.  In addition, the Ministry of Education encourages schools to develop Holocaust-related activities for students, including essay competitions, extracurricular activities, projects that require students to collect information about Holocaust events, and volunteer days to care for local Jewish cemeteries and memorial sites.

As noted above, the Lithuanian parliament dedicated the year 2020 to the legacy of the Vilna Gaon and the history of Lithuanian Jews.  The government is communicating with the Jewish Community of Lithuania and cultural institutions to design a year-long schedule of commemorative events, public lectures, and exhibitions to highlight the contributions of Lithuanian Jews and raise public awareness of Lithuania’s role in the Holocaust.

There are several research centers dedicated to studying the Holocaust in Lithuania, including the Genocide and Resistance Research Center, the Lithuanian History Institute, and the History Department at Vilnius University.

The Welfare of Holocaust (Shoah) Survivors and Other Victims of Nazi Persecution

Programs sponsored by the Jewish Community of Lithuania and funded via the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany provide assistance programs in Lithuania to the country’s Holocaust survivors.

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