Kleinmann Family Foundation

Kleinmann Family Foundation

November 29, 2010 06:01 ET

What do Quebec and Austria Have in Common?

Gedenkdienst: Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Nov. 29, 2010) - Gregor Brunner, a 22-year-old Austrian Gedenkdiener, is currently educating young Quebecers about the atrocities his former countrymen committed during the Holocaust and the responsibility of each and every one of us to ensure that genocide "never again" happens. Dr. Andreas Maislinger, a political scientist from Innsbruck, Austria founded the Gedenkdienst program in 1991 (http://www.gedenkdienst.org/english/index1.htm). The intent of the program is to recognize Austria's role in the collective responsibility for the Holocaust. It is less than twenty-five years since the Austrian government has recognized their role as perpetrators of the Nazi genocide, having abandoned their previous position that they were the first victims of the Nazis.

During Gregor's tenure as an intern at the Kleinmann Family Foundation (www.kffeducation.org) he has presented a unique multi-media educational program, Moral Responsibility: Witnesses for the Future in several Cegep and high school classes throughout Montreal. The Shoah, Armenian, and Rwandan genocides are used as paradigms to address the contemporary need to oppose the worldwide threat engendered by ignorance, indifference, discrimination, racism, and moral cowardice. 

The role of the Internet in disseminating information is contrasted with the media during the time of the Shoah. In addition, to the immediacy of the information on the Internet, reference is also made to its destructive potential for fomenting and proliferating hatred in this digital age. The need to think critically underscores the dialogue and the blurring between fact and fiction by the propagandist is illustrated within many contemporary racist Internet sites.

DISCUSSION TOPICS ENCOURAGED DURING THE PROGRAM

  • The role of media in shaping and creating images of national identity.

  • The influence of media in creating and prioritizing social issues.

  • The effects of immigration policies on refugees and would be immigrants.

  • Minority and ethnic rights.

  • The moral responsibility of individuals and the collective responsibility of governments.

  • To examine the standards, which societies apply when addressing how much "tolerance," is acceptable? For example, do Western societies allow the female genital mutilation of young women? Is it acceptable for a Sikh student to wear the ceremonial dagger (kirpan) in school? 

  • To address the distinction between advertising and propaganda.

Gregor has also worked closely with Jewish students coordinating and assisting in Hillel events. He will also participate and aid in organizing the 18th Annual Holocaust and Genocide Symposium: Confronting Genocide: 1915-2011 at Vanier College, April 4-8, 2011. 

Upon completion of his Gedenkdienst service in August, 2011 Gregor will return to Vienna where he will resume his studies at the Vienna University of Economics. Anyone interested in booking Moral Responsibility: Witnesses for the Future may contact Gregor Brunner at advancingmemory@gmail.com

Contact Information