HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN PEDAGOGY, HISTORY, AND PRACTICE 128 Unfortunately, genocides have occurred since the Holocaust and it continues to challenge, and frustrate, international bodies such as the United Nations and the International Criminal Court in the Hague, the Netherlands. Each case of genocide has its own set of defining characteristics and deserves to be studied. Institutions such as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance have committees that work specifically with issues of genocide and other acts of mass violence. One of their aims is to be able to identify warning signs of mass violence or genocide and work towards identifying ways in which genocide can be prevented. The Holocaust remains one of the most documented cases of crimes against humanity that the world has ever seen. We are not suggesting that there is a hierarchy of victims, or that one group’s pain is greater than another. The Holocaust can however, serve as a prism where other learners may see aspects of their own experiences reflected, or feel comfortable exploring their own familial backgrounds. Scholars continue to discover new information and new generations learn about the worst and the best of humanity through the historical lens of studying the Holocaust. As a cautionary note, however, we must be careful that we do not use the Holocaust to justify our own agendas or to explain our own histories. Before we extrapolate and learn from the Holocaust, we must learn about it. This is important to know and teach because: Due to the vast amount of primary sources, secondary sources and educational resources available, the Holocaust can often be an accessible topic for students of diverse backgrounds and varying educational levels. A complex topic, worthy of study on its own merit, the Holocaust may also better prepare students to enter into a course of study of comparative genocide, or to further explore an interdisciplinary approach to studying the Holocaust. Other students may find encouragement in the resilience often displayed in survivor narratives, and other students may have the opportunity to learn more about their familial history through the study of the Holocaust. As one of the defining events in the history of the world and the history of humanity, the commitment to educate about the Holocaust is well summarised in the final point of the Stockholm Declaration: Our commitment must be to remember the victims who perished, respect the survivors still with us, and reaffirm humanity’s common aspiration for mutual understanding and justice.
6 Weren’t many Jews saved during Holocaust? Asked by: Stephanie, private school, Grade 10 Throughout the Second World War and the Holocaust, there were many brave individuals who actively sought to provide aid and provide shelter to Jews who were being persecuted. In 2014, Yad Vashem, the Holocaust authority in Israel, documented just over 25,000 such individuals who, at great risk to their own safety, aided Jews. Yad Vashem gave these brave men and women the title of Righteous Among the Nations. These courageous individuals demonstrated enormous courage in the face of adversity and forever remain a shining example of the very best of humanity. However, when teaching about this vital component of the Holocaust, it is important to keep it in perspective. This is important to know and teach because: At the end of the Second World War, two out of every three Jews (approximately six million men, women and children) had been murdered in the Holocaust. If more people had demonstrated the moral leadership as the Righteous Among the Nations, it is possible that countless more Jews could have been saved. 7 How could the Germans be expected to help if they didn’t know what was happening to the Jews? Asked by: Taylor, private school, Grade 9 129 HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN PEDAGOGY, HISTORY, AND PRACTICE Germany had an active propaganda machine that constantly worked to mold public opinion in favour of the National Socialist regime. Most ordinary Germans would have been aware of events that were taking place in their country. Beginning with the introduction of anti-Jewish legislation that began when the Nazis came to power in 1933, to the establishment of concentration camps, to the November 1938 anti-Jewish pogrom known as “the Night of Shattered Glass” or Kristallnacht; all these events were widely reported in newspapers throughout Germany. People were aware of what was happening in the country. However, if we probe deeper into history and ask questions about how people responded, then we might ascertain that people did not know, because they either did not care to know or they were passive and did not ask questions about what was happening around them. Questions such as, “How did people react