The Memory of Prevention. European Anti-Hate Crime Policy and Holocaust Remembrance

  • Thomas Brudholm
  • Birgitte Schepelern JohansenEmail author


Cross-referencing between anti-hate crime policy work and Holocaust remembrance activities is not a rare phenomenon in a European context. Offhand, connecting anti-hate crime policy work and Holocaust remembrance is intelligible, since both are concerned with issues of racism, intolerance, and human rights violations. Thus, potentially, a “win-win” situation for actors from both fields. However, there are reasons for caution when bringing together two evils of a rather different magnitude as well as bringing together the different policy agendas. Through a combination empirical analysis and conceptual and normative reflections, the article unpack the premises and implications of connecting hate crime activism and Holocaust remembrance and it points towards two potential concerns. Firstly, anti-hate crime work is mainly forward-looking and preventive. It aims to mobilize and hence it will tend to prioritize a narrative and emotional simplicity. While Holocaust remembrance is also to some extent preventive and future-oriented (e.g., the promise of “Never Again”), there is also an ongoing obligation towards the details and complexities of the past. When the two domains are connected, there is a risk that the mobilizing aspects are prioritized too much. Secondly, when the Holocaust is evoked as the appropriate past for understanding the potential harm of hate crime, there is a danger of misrepresenting and over-dramatizing a vast proportion of the incidents that are currently reported and prosecuted as hate crimes. Thus, while the joining of agendas may be tempting, it also comes with a prize.


Hate crime Holocaust Policy Criminal law Memory law Ethics Commemoration 



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Brudholm
    • 1
  • Birgitte Schepelern Johansen
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute for Cross Cultural and Regional StudiesUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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