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Vacations in Paris

Daria Novozhilova, 3rd-year student of the Programme in History (Faculty of Humanities) talked to us about her visit to the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

Whenever you visit Paris – a city where you feel the hand of history - you want to share your impressions about it. Moreover, this trip was directly related to my research interests.

During my first year at HSE I attended a research seminar on the history of the World War II: ‘New sources and new approaches’ by Professor Oleg Budnitskii. At the seminar I prepared a project on ‘The Motivation of Children and Teenagers to Survive the Holocaust’.

Oleg Bugnitskii awakened my the interest in the history of Jewry during the war, gave me plenty of useful of advice and recommendations and helped me to believe in myself. While working on my project, I  visited the library of the Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Centre, where I met Ilya Altman, Professor at the Russian State University for the Humanities and author of many books on Holocaust. He helped me to compile a source base for my research.

Thanks to Ilya Altman, I learned about the competition ‘Lessons of the Holocaust - Path to Tolerance’. I decided to take part in this contest. After the competition I was invited to a conference ‘The Holocaust: Remembrance and Warning’ held in January 2015 in honor of the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. This event was organized by Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Centre. My research was recognized as one of the best, and thus I was among the students who had the opportunity to visit the headquarters of UNESCO in July to present my report.

I really enjoyed the trip. I was amazed by the beauty of the city, its architecture, the friendly people and the main purpose of my trip – a visit to the UNESCO headquarters, where we presented our reports and took part in a guided tour.

Before our presentations, the President of the ‘Aladdin’ Foundation delivered a welcome message. She spoke about the foundation’s activity. The goal of the foundation is to tell Muslim students more about the history of the Holocaust. It might seem that the Holocaust has nothing in common with the history of Muslims and this knowledge is not necessary for them. But, in fact,people want to know more about the Holocaust, as according to them, the Holocaust is the same genocide as the one in Congo or anywhere else. In order to prevent the extermination of people of all nationalities, one should learn about the factors that can lead to genocide, and what methods are used to carry it out.

Dr. Shimon Samuels, Director for International Relations at Simon Wiesenthal Center, Alexander Boldyrev, Deputy Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO and other also took part at the meeting. The reports were followed by discussion.

In addition to visiting the UNESCO headquarters, the other students and I went on a visit to the Shoah Memorial. This place has a surprising variety of documents and different types of sources – for example, there is a hall that features rare photos of the liberators of the concentration camps. The films made immediately after the Red Army entered the camp were also shown at the Memorial. There is a lot of rare information about French Jews, particularly documents showing the conditions they lived under during the Vichy regime.

I would like to thank Oleg Budnitskii for the knowledge I gained at HSE and, of course, the Holocaust Centre and especially Ilya Altman for his research assistance. I was so glad to visit Paris and to see these amazing historical places. I am sure that everyone who studies the history of the Holocaust should take this opportunity.