Dr. Susanna Kokkonen, originally from Finland, is the Director of the Christian Friends of Yad Vashem and the
Country Director for Italy and Scandinavia at the International Relations Division of Yad Vashem. Dr. Kokkonen is responsible for Yad Vashem's many activities that include enrollment of new Friends and Partners for Yad Vashem's many projects as well as responsibility for an annual International Christian Leadership Seminar.
Dr. Kokkonen travels around the world to speak about Israel, the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. She has been a
featured guest speaker at the official Holocaust Memorial Day of Northern Ireland hosted by the First Minister's
office and spoken at the Parliament Hill in Ottawa. She has been an official speaker of the Canadian Holocaust
Educational Week in 2010 and 2011. Fluent in six languages, she also writes regularly on Jewish and Israeli issues, and her articles have been published in various publications.
Prior to Yad Vashem, Dr. Kokkonen worked at the European Parliament in Brussels and at the Embassy of Finland in Tel Aviv. She received her Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2004 in Holocaust studies. Her dissertation topic was “Jewish Refugees in Post-War Italy, 1945-1951”
Her topic was "The Road to the Holocaust:
1. The Road to the Holocaust: The steps to go from hatred to murder
The Holocaust did not start where it ended. A whole process of dehumanization preceded the genocide starting from simple anti-Semitic
attitudes and actions. A political process leading to a totalitarian system initially within the German context later involved much of Europe
including governments but also regular citizens. In many cases, pre-existing anti-Semitism made the later developments of violence and
The questions we need to address concern the developments that preceded the Holocaust; what reactions do we see in the society, as
Nazi power grows and what do we learn from this. Finally, we need to consider how the study of this process is relevant today.
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