Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange

A joint public safety partnerships project of Georgia State University and

local, state, federal and international law enforcement agencies



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Holocaust Education

Law Enforcement and the Holocaust


Perhaps the most important element of Holocaust education is to tell the story to future generations.  Not only is it critical to remember that the Holocaust happened and attempts to deny it amount to double victimization, it is no less critical to remember (teach) the Holocaust with the intent of preventing it from ever happening again.


Pertinent conceptions of the roles and responsibility of policing were formulated by John Alderson, former Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall, who saw it as contributing to "liberty, equality and fraternity in human affairs" and as facilitating the freedom of passage of people and merchandise. 


Nazi Germany had a police force that did exactly the opposite.  Therefore, it is  imperative to demonstrate how policing in the wrong hands could result in disastrous outcomes that stand as anathema to its intended societal role. It is also important to illustrate that the role of police should never be taken for granted by those served by it and particularly by those providing the service.  This poses direct relevant law enforcement practice dilemmas such as: recognizing what constitutes illegal orders, understanding what constitutes justified resistance, and identifying the need for training in issues of extraordinary emotional significance for those who were victims and for those who might potentially become victims in the future.


There are several research, archival, and museum centers around the world. The most famous in the U.S. is The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, DC, and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel.  Many law enforcement officers in the U.S. visit the USHMM as part of their professional training and continuing education efforts.  See, for example, ADL's  Law Enforcement and Society (LEAS): Lessons of the Holocaust program. All GILEE delegations to Israel make it a point to visit Yad Vashem, also known as The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority.


In May, 2006, the GILEE delegation was guided at Yad Vashem by Guy Shemer, a Guides Instructor in the department for training guides. An interview with him appeared in the Jerusalem Post (August 22, 2006). He also guided (November, 2007) comedian Jerry Seinfeld who used the term "Soup Nazi" in his TV series, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown (July 2008). Other dignitaries recently visited Yad Vashem.


Learn from the past, understand the present, make a difference for the future


GILEE's director received the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust Humanitarian Award at the Annual State Official Observance, Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust, held at the Georgia State Capitol on May 6, 2005.  His keynote address, Lessons From The Holocaust, emphasized the need to learn from past lessons, understand present threats, and make a difference for the future to prevent this from ever happening again. See also an excellent article on the lessons of the Holocaust by Erwin Cotler.


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