Combating Holocaust Denial and Distortion Through the International Visitor Leadership Program

April 12, 2021

By Leslie Chan

Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues Cherrie Daniels welcomed A/Assistant Secretary Phil Reeker and 22 IVLP participants virtually

"While hate may never be permanently defeated, it must always be confronted and condemned. When we recognize the fundamental human dignity of all people, we help to build a more just and peaceful world. In the memory of all those who were lost, and in honor of all those who survived, we must continue to work toward a better, freer, and more just future for all humankind." - President Biden, A Proclamation on Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust, 2021

This week, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs began the Countering Holocaust Denial and Distortion virtual International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) project. The IVLP is the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program. Through discussions with their counterparts in the United States, current and emerging foreign leaders in a variety of fields share their perspectives on issues of mutual interest and cultivate lasting relationships with their American counterparts. Professional meetings reflect the participants’ professional interests and support the foreign policy goals of the United States.

This virtual IVLP project strengthens shared efforts in the United States and Europe to support accurate Holocaust history and counter denial and distortion. Over a four-week period, 22 European mid and senior-level archivists and museum professionals from nine countries will examine outreach strategies and services for museums, memorials, and archives with a focus on storytelling and public education initiatives. Professional programming will include intra-group discussions to foster collaboration and information sharing among the participating countries, a four-session series with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and a virtual presentation by the Arolsen Archives in Germany.

The project coincides with Yom HaShoah (The Day of Remembrance), for which the group has been attending pre-arranged events such as a webinar jointly hosted by the Offices of the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues and the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism on the theme of protecting the history of the Holocaust and recognizing and confronting Holocaust distortion. Special Envoy Cherrie Daniels emphasized that the historically accurate facts about the Holocaust must be protected and conveyed to future generations and saluted the participants' work, saying that, "these professionals are, in many ways, the guardians and keepers of Holocaust history."

The participants will meet with interlocutors from several cities throughout the U.S. including Washington, DC; New York, New York; Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio; Los Angeles, California; Miami, Florida; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Special Envoy Cherrie Daniels, Mark Weitzman, Director of Government Affairs for the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Chief Representative of the Center to the United Nations in New York, met virtually with the 22 IVLP participants In April to discuss ways to identify and confront Holocaust distortion

Please watch the U.S. Department of State Day of Remembrance Commemoration here.

Learn more about the IVLP on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. This project is being implemented in partnership with World Learning.