I graduated in foreign languages and literatures (main language French, second language English and German) at the University of Bologna with qualification to teach French at the University of Parme. I lived some years in France where I got married For many reasons I can define myself as bilingual French and Italian.
Since 1990 I have been working at the Municipality of Rimini as Head of the Cultural Department and Head of the Memory Education Project of the Municipality of Rimini.
This project aims at teaching the history of the Nazi deportation and of the Shoah.
In particular I deal with the training of students and also the ongoing professional training of teachers. Every year I set up workshops, scientific and cultural initiatives, educational materials, not only for the Province of Rimini but also for other Municipalities and Italian Institutions.
I have also taken part in the organization of several awareness raising activities and events (especially a lot of Italian teacher seminars in Italy as well as abroad) in order to arise interest about memory-related issues (website: memoria.comune.rimini.it).
In 2007 and 2008 I was asked by Yad Vashem -The International School for Holocaust Studies to co-operate and organize some Italian teacher seminars and I was invited several times to international conferences about Teaching the Holocaust in Jerusalem, also presenting workshops for teachers or giving lectures.
Moreover, I lectured on the history and pedagogy of the Shoah at several Italian universities in Milan, Turin, Trieste and Naples.
I joined Mémorial de la Shoah of Paris in 2008 as the head of its newly-founded Italian Department. In this capacity, I am responsible for developing educational materials and for coordinating seminars, workshops and summer universities for Italian teachers and educators.
The French institution gave me the opportunity to set up very big projects like directing in Paris a
a winter school for Italian teachers on the history and teaching of the Shoah (Thinking and teaching the Shoah). At the moment, I am preparing another winter school for Italian teachers that will be held in December 2013 in Berlin, in co-operation with the Topographie des Terrors, das Haus der Wannsee Konferenz and other leading German institutions.
Since 2009, I also teach Nazi language at summer school for French teachers at the Mémorial de la shoah.
Apart from focussing since more than twenty years on the Teaching of the Shoah, my research interests lie mainly in the study of the Nazi language but also on the Jewish athletes during the Nazi period and on the Nazi Lebensborn programme. I published several essays and articles in Italian, French, English and in Hebrew.
I took part in a research project coordinated by the Centre d’histoire of the Science Politique University of Paris dedicated to “Le sport européen à l’épreuve du nazisme. Des J.O. de Berlin aux J.O. de Londres (1936-1948)”, in particular I dealt with the part devoted to fascist Italy. I also wrote the biographies of the athletes who were persecuted because of the Hitler regime.
Working on the Shoah for one of the leading institutions like the French Memorial and being very often in Paris, my favourite town, changed my professional like and the least that I can say is that I am very happy even if it is not simple to combine two professional lifes (in Rimini, at the Cultural Department and in Paris for the Mémorial). But I like taking up challenges!
In March 2013 I joined the EHRI family, as I was appointed by the Mémorial de la shoah Coordinator for this project that is probably one of the most challenging projects I have been asked to work on. I am very excited to have this opportunity and to be involved in so many important activities like preparing the summer school for European researchers, the online courses and also taking part to the international meeting that EHRI organises. I find it very important to have such opportunities to meet other EHRI colleagues and exchange out the goals of our work on the transmission and the research on the Holocaust.
In my long experience in teaching the shoah in Italy, I have realized how much we lack on opportunities to change our perspective and learn the history of the persecution of the Jews more from an European point of view (not only with a national approach). As I think that we all need more qualified opportunities to exchange and compare experiences on methods of researching on the genocide of the Jews and on teaching about the Holocaust, I really find EHRI an exciting and useful project. Not only because we are asked to do activities but especially because we are asked to reflect more on what we are doing and on what we should do to develop more the knowledge and the understanding of the shoah.
Laura Fontana, EHRI Online
Training and Summer School Paris
Head Italian Department, Mémorial de la Shoah
In March 2013 I joined the EHRI family, as I was appointed by the Mémorial de la Shoah coordinator for this project, that is probably one of the most challenging projects I have ever been involved into. I am very excited to have this opportunity and to be involved in so many important activities, like preparing the summer school for European researchers, the online courses and also taking part in the international meetings organised by EHRI. Having these opportunities to meet other EHRI colleagues and exchange ideas about the goals of our work to teach and research the Holocaust is extremely important and enriching....