School-based Holocaust memorial project grows across Europe

Holocaust survivors and school children gather for launch of Crocus Project 2014-2015

A Holocaust remembrance project which began a decade ago in Ireland with the planting of a handful of flower bulbs now involves more than 50,000 young people throughout Europe annually.

The Crocus Project introduces school children to the subject of the Holocaust by encouraging them to plant the bulbs each autumn.

The yellow flowers, which recall the Stars of David that Jews were forced to wear by the Nazis, usually bloom before the last week of January when international Holocaust Memorial Day takes place.

Founded by the Holocaust Education Trust Ireland in 2005, and supported with EU funding, the project has been expanding each year with nine member states now involved.


Launching the latest round of the project today in Dublin, Minister for European Affairs Paschal Donohoe said: "A knowledge of our history and an understanding of what gave rise to such terrible events is vital if we are to ensure that the generations that follow do not succumb to the dangers of intolerance and xenophobia."

He was joined by members of the trust; Holocaust survivors Suzi Diamond and Tomi Reichental; and children from Holy Spirit Boys National School, Ballymun which has taken part in the project for the last three years.

Teacher Gilllian Moore said the school ran a blog about it, incorporating other programmes like Show Racism the Red Card. The school's approach was not to talk directly about the Holocaust but "we talk about what it means to be discriminated against, what it's like for children to be separated from their parents", using age-appropriate resources like The Sneetches by Dr Seuss which works off the same theme.

“What’s important is to connect kids with kids rather than just present them with images of the death in the camps. They see death on the news, on video games, they’re used to seeing it. When they find there are kids who were stopped from going to school and sent to these places they can relate to that a lot more,” she said.

Mr Reichental who visits secondary schools on average twice a week to deliver talks said “the Holocaust was a unique event. It would be a huge tragedy if we don’t learn from the past”. However, he said he also spoke about racism in general to young people and “I always say if you see a bully in your school you should not be a bystander but get involved and stop it”.


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Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys is an Assistant News Editor at The Irish Times and writer of the Unthinkable philosophy column