TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Sara Cohan, Education Director of The Genocide Education Project, was the keynote speaker at the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day program hosted by the Holocaust Education Resource Council at Tallahassee Community College in Tallahassee, Florida. Tallahassee City Commissioner Gil Ziffer and Jackie Pons, Superintendent of Leon County School District were among the attendees, and Holocaust survivor Miriam Schlezinger was one of the honored guests.
“I was seated next to Ms. Schezinger and as I stood up, I noticed the tattoo from Auschwitz on her arm” said Cohan. “She patted my hand and smiled, and as I approached the podium, I was haunted by the tattoo, a somber reminder of the trauma of genocide that persists decades later.”
The event’s theme was “Justice and Accountability in the Face of Genocide: What have we learned?,” the official theme for the 2011 Days of Remembrance programs issued by the United States Holocaust Museum and Memorial. The theme reflects the 60th anniversary of the second part of the Nuremburg Trials and the 50th Anniversary of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann’s trial in Israel.
Cohan shared her own family’s story as survivors of the Armenian Genocide. Her grandfather died without the perpetrators being held accountable, nor any amount of justice being served. Cohan detailed the history of the emergence of the term genocide, introduced by Raphael Lemkin, in part as a result of his study of the Turkish atrocities against Armenians, and she discussed the growth of international courts to prosecute perpetrators of genocide. She emphasized the need for United States’ support for the International Criminal Court. At this time, the U.S. government does not acknowledge the authority of the ICC.
The Tallahassee event included a candle lighting ceremony in honor of those who perished in the Holocaust, and the presentation of awards for teachers engaged in Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Leon County schools.
The Holocaust Remembrance Day event was the most recent of a series of workshops, conferences, and presentations this spring given by The Genocide Education Project in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Florida. Executive Director, Raffi Momjian said, “We’re gratified that educators across the country welcome us and are excited about the materials and training we provide. Teachers are showing an increased interest in teaching about justice and accountability regarding all genocides. Their desire to teach about truth and justice, despite increasingly difficult work conditions, is inspiring.”
The Genocide Education Project is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization that assists educators in teaching about human rights and genocide, particularly the Armenian Genocide, by developing and distributing instructional materials, providing access to teaching resources and organizing educational workshops.