Friday, November 16, 2018 -
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Teaching the Holocaust

Should the Holocaust be taught to children? Let’s allow one of the primary architects of the Holocaust itself — Hermann Goering — to answer the question.

“Education is dangerous,” the arch-Nazi once said. “Every educated person is a future enemy.”

Consider the question answered.

With or without knowledge of Goering’s totalitarian views on education, a great many educators — teachers of Jewish and gentile youths alike — have already decided on the matter, and their answer is a resounding “yes.”

While not universal in American schools, public or parochial, Holocaust education is far from rare, unlike a few decades ago when the only exposure to the subject for many children was a quick subchapter in the WW II section of their world history class.

Today, students from elementary school to college are quite likely to receive substantial instruction on history’s worst genocide, as well as its causes, lessons and ramifications.

A great deal of effort and thought has gone into teaching the Holocaust, and educators have pondered about how to do it best.

• Why should the Holocaust be taught at all?

• At what age should Holocaust education begin?

• How intensive should such instruction be for younger students, and when is it appropriate and safe to expose students to the graphic facts?

• What dangers and pitfalls lurk in educating children on one of human history’s most horrific nightmares?

• How important is it to have actual survivors speak to students? How will their diminishing numbers affect how the Holocaust is taught?

• When are students ready to be lectured on the political, social and religious dynamics that led to the Holocaust?

The Intermountain Jewish News interviewed four educators — each representing a different academic sector — about how they have grappled with such questions.

The rest of this article is available in the August 14 Education & Culture IJN print and digital edition only. Contact Carol to order your copy at or subscribe to our online e-Edition.

Chris Leppek

IJN Assistant Editor |

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