This spring twenty commanding officers of the Polish police gathered at the Auschwitz Jewish Center in Oświęcim (Auschwitz), Poland to spend three days studying the Holocaust as part of the AJC’s Understanding Evil program, which is poised to grow thanks to a new set of EEA grants.

Understanding Evil is a set of three-day intensive seminars for Polish law enforcement and police trainers designed in partnership with the Commander in Chief of the Polish police.
“We must teach our police officers about the Holocaust, so that they understand the history and become more aware of hate crimes today,” said Tomasz Kuncewicz, AJC Director. “Our partnership with the Polish police means that the most powerful police officers in Poland are learning about Jewish history, Auschwitz, and the responsibility of the police to protect members of minority groups.”

Understanding Evil seminars use the power of place at one of the most notorious sites of the Holocaust, the former camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau, to impress upon the officers the critical nature of awareness of dehumanization and human rights. Examining this unique history sheds light on the contemporary responsibility of law enforcement to police crimes against members of diverse ethnic, religious, and social groups.

A recent participant of Understanding Evil said that he has “come to understand that the Holocaust was a process. Today it is our responsibility to respond to any instance of hate immediately before it grows into something uncontrollable.”

With this last iteration of the seminar, Understanding Evil will have served 200 commanding officers from all over the country.

Understanding Evil seminars are made possible through the EEA grants with additional support from the US Consulate General in Cracow.