Why teach about the Holocaust?

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In a nutshell one could say that teaching the Holocaust using Anne Frank’s story as an example of a personal story shows where anti-Semitism, prejudice and racism in their extreme form can lead to. In this historical phenomenon there is a clear message for today.

The Holocaust is the term used for the murder of the Jews. Other victims were: Roma and Sinti, the handicapped and homosexuals. For many people this is a huge shock. ‘How could this happen? ’ and many shout: ‘Auschwitz, never again.’

The thin line between good and evil

The Holocaust is ultimately the result of the Nazis’ racist ideology. But many others who weren’t Nazis were also involved. This traumatic period in European history confronts people with the very thin line between good and evil which is still relevant for  today. It has become a benchmark for evaluating contemporary events in society.

The Holocaust and World War Two are regularly referred to in literature, art, film and also political debate. It is therefore important that it is also discussed in school too.

When should you start?

Holocaust education is suitable for children from the age of 10. But because the Holocaust and World War Two are complex subjects they should also be studied at secondary school level. Therefore learning about it from the elementary school through to secondary education.

 

Learning objectives are:

  • knowledge: teach about the main events of WWII and Anne Frank’s life.
  • insight:  into the gradual process of the Holocaust
  • Examples of anti-Semitism and discrimination
  • reflection: give people the opportunity to connect this knowledge to their own lives/surroundings
  • reaction: where possible stimulate people to contribute positively to society. 

Teaching aids

The Anne Frank House has created two graphic novels. They deal with the occupation (A Family Secret ) and the Holocaust (The Search). The graphic novels are easy to read and give a good introduction to the topics occupation and the Holocaust for a broad group of pupils. However the most important teaching aid was not developed by the Anne Frank House and this is of course Anne Frank’s diary itself!

Teaching

Teaching methods will always change. The digital age offers many new possibilities. There are also fewer eye witnesses because they are growing older and dying. This is a huge challenge because those eyewitness accounts by survivors of the war are extremely important in education.

See also

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Choices and dilemmas during the occupation

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The extent of the Holocaust is unimaginable...

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Victims, helpers, perpetrators and bystanders

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Historical video and audio material in the class

Films and photographs of World War Two can liven up  your lesson and take your pupils back in time...

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