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HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN

HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN PEDAGOGY, HISTORY, AND PRACTICE 132 Holocaust deniers will seize upon one erroneous piece of information in an attempt to deny the complete history of the Holocaust. Make no mistake — Holocaust denial and distortion is a pernicious attempt to deny historical fact and is almost always linked to antisemitism. As educators we have access to vast holdings of accurate information about the Holocaust, one of the most well-documented events in human history. 9 Is it true that Norwegians wore paper clips on their lapels to show their support for Jews in their country? Asked by: Alessio, Catholic school, Grade 9 During the German occupation of Norway, the paperclip was worn by many Norwegians as a form of non-violent opposition to the Nazis and to demonstrate support for King Haakon VII. It was not, however, connected to support for Norwegian Jewry. Norway’s Jewish community numbered around 1,700 individuals at the time of the Holocaust. Approximately 760 of these were deported, many to Auschwitz- Birkenau where they perished. Others escaped to neutral Sweden where they survived, but the Quisling government administering Norway, collaborated with Nazi Germany. This nuance/fact is critical to teach the students because of the popularity of the Paper Clips program. Another variation of this myth claims that King Christian X of Denmark wore the yellow, Jewish Star on his outer clothing to protest German orders that Danish Jews must wear such badges. This is a popular legend, but it is not true. King Christian and many Danes did support their Jewish neighbours and fellow citizens. However, nearly all Danish Jews who survived the Holocaust did so by being ferried on an armada of small fishing boats to neutral Sweden. This is important to know and teach because: Many educators use the text, The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark without placing it in its historical context. As stated in the teaching guidelines of the USHMM accuracy of fact, together with a balanced perspective on the history, must be a priority.

10 Isn’t the Holocaust really an example of bullying in the extreme? Asked by: Tiffany, public school, Grade 8 Variations of this exist as in “Hitler was the biggest bully of all time” or “Left unchecked, bullying leads to the Holocaust.” Such claims contribute to trivialisation of the Holocaust. To deconstruct this myth, review the definition of the Holocaust. Although various museums and education centres have minor variations in the definition they use, all agree that definition includes the the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by Nazi Germany and their collaborators. As harmful as bullying is, it is not helpful to liken it to the Holocaust. Simply put, the Holocaust was not a severe form of bullying. The Holocaust was a systematic attempt to annihilate the Jewish people. Equating these two issues contributes to trivialisation of a complex, historical event. This is a viewpoint shared by many leading educators and Holocaust education institutions, and is covered by Dr. Michael Gray in his book Contemporary Debates in Holocaust Education (2014). This is important to know and teach because: Although literature on bullying uses the same language of “bystander”, “victim”, and perpetrator/bully, these terms do not have the same meaning when discussing playground bullying and the Holocaust. Educators must be proactive and discuss these misconceptions with their students. 11 How could one man, Adolf Hitler, murder six million Jews? Asked by: Jamal, public school, Grade 11 133 HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN PEDAGOGY, HISTORY, AND PRACTICE Adolf Hitler was the leader of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (in German, Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei), the Nazi party. He was not the only Nazi who murdered Jews. He was the mastermind. It took a great number of people to achieve Hitler’s and Nazism’s goals of re-ordering German society and eliminating elements deemed “undesirable.” National Socialism built a personality cult around Hitler, and he ruled Germany in an autocratic manner. Central to this was the Führerprinzip (leader principle),

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