What you need to know about Sweden’s international Holocaust conference

Poster for Malmö International Holocaust Conference
Malmö is host to Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Anti-Semitism this week. But what is the conference about? Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
The Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Anti-Semitism (Malmö Forum) is taking place this week on October 13th. But who is attending, and what is it about?

Why is it happening now?

The conference was originally due to take place in October 2020 to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the 20th anniversary of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust, and the establishment of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

After delays due to Covid-19, it was postponed and is now taking place on October 13th, 2021.

Why is Malmö hosting?

Malmö has documented problems with anti-Semitism, which Fredrik Seieradzki from the Jewish Community of Malmö has previously told Sveriges Radio is “every reason” to host a conference in the city.

This is one of the reasons the conference is being held in Malmö, as well as Malmö’s importance in the Swedish Red Cross’ rescue operations at the end of the Second World War, driving white buses through Denmark to Germany, rescuing thousands of concentration camp prisoners and bringing them to Malmö.

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What is the aim of the conference?

The Swedish government has made a number of pledges in connection with the Malmö Forum, which will be the focus of work carried out during the Swedish presidency of the IHRA, due to last from March 2022 to February 2023.

These include a pledge to preserve and pass on the memory of the Holocaust, a pledge to promote education to prevent anti-Semitism and other forms of racism and to strengthen Holocaust research, a pledge to combat anti-Semitism, Roma discrimination and other forms of racism, online and offline, and a pledge to promote Jewish life, strengthen Roma inclusion and enhance security for civil society.

What is the programme?

The conference will take place over two days in the southern Hyllie district of Malmö, starting with a welcome reception on Tuesday, October 12th, for heads of delegations, hosted by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, with the main conference taking place on Wednesday 13th.

The themes of the conference are: “Promoting remembrance, fighting distortion”, “Developing education and reaching new target groups”, “Countering contemporary anti-Semitism and other forms of racism online and offline”, “Implementing strategies and ensuring security”, “Combating anti-Semitism and hate speech on social media” and “Preserving testimonies and developing education for the future”.

On the 13th, sessions include a plenary session on the consequences of the diminishing number of survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust, the Roma genocide and the persecution of different groups during the Holocaust, breakout sessions covering the different themes of the forum, and a plenary session focussing on action on anti-Semitism, the implentation of the forum’s pledges, and how to join forces to strengthen the work for Holocaust remembrance and combating anti-Semitism and other forms of racism.

The full programme is available here.

Who is attending?

Delegates from around 50 different countries were invited, including heads of state and government, researchers, experts and civil society representatives, but Sydsvenskan reported that many heads of government had declined the invitation. Survivors of the Holocaust will also be in attendance as guests of honour.

Speakers in the first session include Löfven, Mayor of Malmö Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh, President of Israel Isaac Herzog, Professor Yehuda Bauer, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, President of the World Jewish Congress Ronald Lauder and President of the European Roma and Travellers Forum Miranda Vuolasranta.

The final session of the day includes speakers such as Löfven, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Jewish Congress Moshe Kantor.


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