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I fear we are in danger of getting off the topic of the debate - this should be about the teaching of the Holocaust - and of course this is bound to arouse passions which is good as that is what this forum is for - but at least attempt to make he postings relevant - It would be interesting, for example to hear about how they teach the Holocaust in Israel or how (or if) they teach about in in the neighbouring countries.

After a quick google search I came across this very interesting discussion about teaching the Holocaust to Arab Israelis:

http://www.yad-vashem.org.il/download/educ...nf/Abramski.pdf

One of the key points is quoted here

Teaching Method

a. The fundamentals of teaching Holocaust history remain the same whether the target

population is Jews or Arabic-speakers. One begins with basic facts and bases oneself on

primary sources, i.e., contemporaneous documentation. The documentation should be

diversified to the extent possible so that it reflects the thinking of the murderers, the

victims, and the bystanders. The documentation should also be diverse in terms of type—

minutes of meetings, commanders’ orders, letters, diaries, etc. Scholarly articles on the

subject, however important they may be, should be studied only at a later stage, after the

basic facts are known. This approach was applied in the three courses that Yad Vashem

sponsored for students at teachers’ colleges—semester-length courses that provided an

introduction to Holocaust history in twelve to fourteen sessions.

The materials were translated into Arabic; the documentation was discussed in Arabic

and Hebrew.

b. The teaching in the project used an interdisciplinary approach. The students engaged

not only in analyzing texts but also in viewing photographs and posters, visiting art

exhibitions, watching films and segments of documentary films, hearing a survivor’s

first-hand testimony, and reading several excerpts of literature.

c. The first and last lessons usually took the form of open workshops on the question,

“What does the term “Holocaust” say to me at the beginning of the course and at its

end?” The course also included a talk with Arab lecturers on whether and how Arabs in

Israel should study the Holocaust.

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I am inclined to add my feelings behind Dan and not behind Andy. It's a shame some people have to be so full of victriolic and rhetoric - where is your spirit of the objective and parity driven historian, Andy? All I can sense is tension and anger which I don't believe befits this topic. I agree with your notion that the debate must be widened to include the unfortunate events and tragedies experienced by all nations, creds, colours, religions and societies but not whilst you attack one or other nations.

Dear Moderator - isn't this also straying from the topic of "Teaching the Holocaust"?

You later corrected this to John (John Kelly or John Simkin?). Not that it matters, as I don’t believe either of us were guilty of being vitriolic. Nor do I believe we were straying from the original topic. Teaching the Holocaust inevitably means that teachers will have to look at modern examples of persecution. Teaching history is invariably more about trying to understand the present than the past. After all, the conflict currently taking place in Palestine is strongly linked to the persecution of the Jews in Europe. The state of Israel would not exist today if there had not been a Holocaust.

John Kelly is right to ask about the political reasons for studying the Holocaust. The historian A. J. P. Taylor upset a lot of people when he pointed out that the majority of people who died in German prison camps during the Second World War were non-Jews. However, he was factually correct and one has to ask political questions about why and how we study certain subjects in the way that we do.

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There are approximately 300 MILLIONS arabs in the Middle East......surrounding 5 MILLION Jews. The Jews are persecuting arabs??

Working in ISrael, getting ISraeli health care and social services is the right of all arabs of Palestine?? Illegally entering Israel to detonate bombs in Jerusalem busses are natural rights of arabs? and stopping that is persecution??

Mr Simkin, I ask you sir, are you qualified to teach anything?

I don’t mind you passing comment about my ability to teach history (unless of course you are an Ofsted inspector). However, others might be deeply offended by comments like that. It is hoped that in future your contributions will maintain a more academic tone. I would hate to think that members of this forum might be reluctant to post their views because they fear you will resort to the use of irrational, abusive comments.

Jews may, or maybe not, be persecuting Arabs. However, the relative numbers of the two groups is irrelevant. For many years a minority group (white people) persecuted blacks in South Africa. In fact, the idea of being outnumbered is often a psychological factor in encouraging intolerance and persecution.

I was not of course suggesting that Israel was persecuting all Arabs in the Middle East. As you know, the issue here concerns the way Israel is treating Arabs in the occupied territories. You no doubt will justify this treatment as a means to punish those using acts of terrorism against the state of Israel. The problem for all occupying forces, and this includes Allied forces now in Iraq, is that it is very difficult to identify people who are terrorists/freedom fighters. The result is that you end up treating innocent civilians as if they are terrorists. The inevitable consequence of this behaviour is that more and more of these civilians either become terrorists themselves or become willing to do what they can to protect those people who they now consider to be freedom fighters.

This is why the situation in Palestine and Iraq is so similar to the situation in Vietnam in the 1960s. The occupying forces do of course see themselves as liberators concerned with protecting the civil rights of the host population. However, the host population see them as members of an occupying force. The number of people resisting this occupying force gradual grows. The tactics used by the terrorists/freedom fighters becomes more and more extreme. The occupying force retaliates by using more and more force against an enemy that they find difficult to identify. This inevitably means an increase in the suffering of civilians and the production of more terrorists.

My reading of history tells me that it will only be a matter of time before the occupying force realises that it has made a terrible mistake. As in Vietnam, and all those other countries occupied illegally over the years, the foreign armies will eventually leave. The longer this takes, the more bitter will be the consequences. The state of Israel is a democracy and so the answer to this problem is in the hands of the Israelis. One of the most distressing aspects of this illegal occupation is that this hardline strategy is popular with the Israeli people. History indicates that this will eventually change (although the atrocities committed by the terrorists/freedom fighters will definitely encourage some sections of the population to call for more extreme measures to be taken). It was eventually domestic democratic pressure that forced the United States Army out of Vietnam. The same will no doubt happen in Iraq and Palestine.

Jews have been persecuted for thousands of years. For much of that time they identified with other persecuted groups. In South Africa and the United States they played important roles in supporting people being persecuted because of the colour of their skin or their left-wing political views. It is a reputation that has unfortunately been severely damaged over the last few years.

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Interesting thread. I don't think the discussion of slavery is off the point. The whole concept of Nazi racism was to use Eastern European 'untermensch' as slaves. Indeed, the earliest internments of Jews was in labour camps to work them to death, and not - at first - to exterminate the race through other programmes. This surely is slavery. It provides an ideal link between our Year 8 course which has a topic on slavery, and Year 9 component on the holocaust. It brings forward appropriate consideration of the continuities rather than just the changes in history.

Many years ago there was an article by someone - I think he was called Vincent (surname) - on 'Empire, Race and War'. It was about the way British attitudes to 'foreigners' was tempered by our experiences especially in Africa which had led the British to consider themselves the superior race. This is not too far from the later Nazi ideology which, I seem to remember, was bolstered up by the writings of Houston Stuart Chamberlain - a great influence on Goebbels and Rosenberg.

At the end of my unit on the Holocaust I ask pupils to consider the question 'Have we Learned from the Past?' They look at genocides after World War Two. In teacher led discussion we look at the nature of some of these. Follow-up homework is to answer the question using a single example or two which pupils research on the internet or in a library.

By the way - thanks for correcting the error - i was nearly upset for a moment!! lol ;);)

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I think the idea, 'Have we learned anything from the past?' is perfect way to phrase a unit of work about the Holocaust.

There are several points here I would like to make to different points on this thread.

I do stick by my orginal feelings on this issue, that there is a implicit scale system of genocide introduced by Western indoctrination, which places the Holocaust as the worst ever example of racial genocide, and therefore in some ways detracts from acts of genocide, racial or non-racial, that our country and other Western countries have committed post 1945. The Holocaust is consistantly used as reference point for all other genocidal acts, due to premeditation of the acts, the intensity of the crimes, and the scale and scope of the mass murder. We are Europeans, so it is important that the Holocaust is taught in European schools, but I feel it is important that is not exclusively the Holocaust that is taught as the only example of genocide, as this negates our responsibilty for our current acts of murder and supporting regimes that murder people around the world. Or if we are to teach about the bombing of Hiroshima or the carpet bombings of Vietnam, or the landmines in Cambodia, or the Russian persecution of Chechians, or the Israeli persecution of the Palestinians, or British and Americans persecution of the Iraqis or the thousand other acts of aggression that have been committed since the Holocaust, then we call these acts genocide in our history books.

With Rwanda in mind and the first weeks of April in 1994, there is a strong argument that says the British, American, French and Belgium, knew that genocidal tension was growing in Rwanda and did nothing to stop these acts. Belgium actually removed troops from the area. America did not act because they didn't want to get involoved in another peacekeeping mission after Somalia. The point that really upsets me, is that this was an act of medieval genocide. The weapons used were mostly knives and blades. A ground force of over 500 US or British marines could have had essentially stopped the genocide in days and saved many lives.

At the same time in 1994 it was revealed that British and US sanctions on Iraq were causing the estimate deaths of 2000 infants per month. A figure that now stands at close to one million deaths due to ten years of sanctions. The reason for these sanctions, was as we were led to believe, to stop Saddam producing weapons of mass destruction, which he never had and never did. Also we couldn't find anyone 'we wanted' to replace him with. The principles of our liberal consciousness were once again laid open for all to see.

These to me are acts of genocide comparable to the Holocaust in intent, which the British and the West have committed with no remorse. We talk about Hitler's willing executioners, by simply supporting the US over the last twelve months Britain has become America's willing executioners in Iraq.

The persecution of Palestinians by Israel - As person of my own mind and with the abillity to express my opinion on this subject, in this an open forum - I cannot allow anyone to express on opinion without my challenge, that suggests that Israel is not persecuting the Palestinians. This is open fact, in which every major aid agency supports. Basic human rights of the Palestinians are being neglected on every level by the Israeli government. There are very vocal sections of the Jewish community that do not advocate this violence, these groups, such as Jews for Justice, I wholeheartly support. As there are very vocal sections of the Arab community that do not support suicide bombings, whom I also support. What I don't support are Israeli attack helicopters, bought by American tax payers, flying through settlements shooting at water towers and innocent people in the name of bigger Israel. Or suicide bombers blowing themselves up on school buses in the name of Allah. In my opinion the biggest threat to middle east stabillity has always been the Israel-Palestinian issue. Conversely it could also be the biggest gateway for middle-east peace.

On the issue of teaching the Holocaust - I do not wish to downplay the importence of these acts, but really to highlight the importence of current acts of genocide which my country has committed and of which I am ashamed. Which I feel should be discussed in British classrooms.

I thank Dan for responding to my ideas in a measured and intellectual manner stating where he disagrees, only in part, with my ideas, which is nothing less than what I would expect from any member on this forum who wishes to debate an historical topic. I would ask others, if anyone disagrees with my comments, which are radically charged I admit, to please state the precise counter arguement to my points, instaed of just labelling me as vitriolic.

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there is an implicit scale system of genocide introduced by Western indoctrination, which places the Holocaust as the worst ever example of racial genocide, and therefore in some ways detracts from acts of genocide, racial or non-racial, that our country and other Western countries have committed post 1945

Regretfully I feel some agreement with your point here; sometimes this would have been done with good intentions, such as justifying the existence of the state of Israel, (which is a sentiment that I support), but other times it has been used in a manner that is unacceptable - although it has been used by both supporters and opponents of Israel in this way.

However, and in terms of this strand about teaching the Holocaust, I feel the most important point that you make John, is

  it is important that is not exclusively the Holocaust that is taught as the only example of genocide, as this negates our responsibilty for our current acts of murder and supporting regimes that murder people around the world. Or if we are to teach about the bombing of Hiroshima or the carpet bombings of Vietnam, or the landmines in Cambodia, or the Russian persecution of Chechians, or the Israeli persecution of the Palestinians, or British and Americans persecution of the Iraqis or the thousand other acts of aggression that have been committed since the Holocaust, then we call these acts genocide in our history books

and maybe I am naive but I would be surprised if this isn't what happens in a lot of classrooms - certainly from my experience the Holocaust has been taught in conjunction with other examples of genocide - in fact if you look at the QCA (Department for Education Qualification and Curriculum Authority) guidance on the Holocaust there is scope for doing that: "Citizenship: the discussion of the treatment of war criminals can be compared with a current example. This would contribute to pupils' understanding of issues of fairness and justice. " (OK I couldn't find a better example but it is a start)

The best thing about this debate is to get people to think about their teaching and challenging themselves and the status quo. You have a great amount of fire and passion in your belly John - keep fighting the good fight and we'll keep fighting with you or against you (it depends on the topic you see!)

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One of the wider points I want to highlight and this could very easily cross over into the debate of Nationalism on this forum, is that the German government and the German people have taken real measures to try deal with this the Holocaust. I was delighted to hear from Ulrike that at her school some neo-nazi poster were seen on campus and the students held a huge demonstration, organised and created by the students against these posters. I think I'm also correct in saying Germany has the highest voting turn out of any European country. The impression I get, is that German people are engaged in grass-root politics in positive way and are willing to accept the national significance of the Holocaust.

If we compare this to Britain then if neo-nazi posters went up at schools in Manchester, the majority of students would simply walk past and ignore them, not even contemplating the wider significance of the posters. And I think I'm also correct in saying Britian has the lowest voting turn out of any European country.

In part I think the reason for this lack of awarness due to nationalistic history teaching, which promotes a non-critical reflection of our society. In turn promoting a non-critical reflection of any political party or politcial system.

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From my experience collaborating with and visiting to German schools in Rhineland and Baden-Würtemberg, I think that German people has been quite more successful in their dealing with their Nazi past than, for example, Italians and Spanish dealing with Mussolini and Franco's dictatorships. Of course, there are evident reasons for this fact: Italy didn't undergo any sort of "defascistization" (does it make sense in English?) and Franco died quietly (and very, very late) in his bed in 1975.

This is a serious drawback for both Mediterranean countries and the lack of a serious settling with their past is a burden for their political systems (just have a glance at some of Mr. Berlusconi and their former fascist allies attitudes and Mr. Aznar's, whose party recently rejected to condemn Franco's uprising in the Spanish parliament).

Sometimes, I think that, despite some neo-nazi movements, Germany is one of the European countries more committed agains totalitarism in Europe.

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I agree that teaching the Holocaust eventually not only leads to a closer exploration of genocides which unfortunately followed but also to the history and historic background of the conflict in the Near East.

Being German and feeling the responsibulty history lay on my shoulders it still is difficult to express my opinion about this conflict in a public forum. Germans criticising the actions of the state of Israel are easily and quickly blamed of expressing anti-semitic feelings. Personally I differentiate between the Jewish people and the state of Israel. Israel is a democray and sees itself as a member of the democratic states of this world; furthermore its is a member of the UN0 and in consequence what the state of Israel does must conform with the principles and rules all democratic states and members of the UNO have to follow and must be judged by. But understandably Jewish history and especially the experience of the Holocaust have left their marks and I think still influence the policy of Israel having as their main aim the preservation of their won nation state. That the Palestinian authorities have internationally accepted that the state of Israel has a right to exist seems to be belied by every suicide attack.

I agree that peace only can be brought about when both sides stop resorting to military or terrorist means, but I cannot yet see how this is going to happen.

I can imagine that many Israelis feel that the peace process initiated by e.g. Rabin has not brought any results; the government now has decided to use the military and fencing people off to bring maybe not peace but safety to the region which so fa has only led to more bloodshed and violence.

Unfortunately I see no Jewish or Palestinian Nelson Mandela who is willing to break to circle of violence and terror.

Talking about the Near East conflict in class for me means to explain and exemplify the difference between the activities of a state and its democratically elected government on the one hand and the various historic experiences which have shaped the lives of the Israeli people and their fears and hopes.

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That the Palestinian authorities have internationally accepted that the state of Israel has a right to exist seems to be belied by every suicide attack....

I agree that peace only can be brought about when both sides stop resorting to military or terrorist means, but I cannot yet see how this is going to happen....

Unfortunately I see no Jewish or Palestinian Nelson Mandela who is willing to break to circle of violence and terror.

The suicide bombers are protesting against the occupation of their lands, not about the existence of Israel (that argument has already been won). The test of that will only come when Israel withdraw from these lands.

It would be great to see a Nelson Mandela emerge in Israel. However, you have to remember, Mandela was a terrorist until he gained power. That Mandela figure has to emerge in Israel, not Palestine. As we know, recent elections indicate there is no great desire for a Mandela type figure in Israel.

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Sometimes, I think that, despite some neo-nazi movements, Germany is one of the European countries more committed agains totalitarism in Europe.

I agree. I don’t think we should forget the success of the way that Germany was treated at the end of the Second World War. Here was an example of politicians learning from the past. Just compare it with the way the defeated nations were treated at the end of the First World War.

The same is true of Japan. They have also successfully dealt with fascist elements since 1945. Despite recent set-backs Japan has shown you do not need military power to have economic success.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Would any of the protagonists in this interesting "sub-debate" mind if I set up a new discussion thread on the Arab-Israeli Conflict and transferred the relevant posts there. I believe that as it stands a teacher visiting this thread expecting to read about "teaching the holocaust" would be a tad confused by its contents :rolleyes:

The Middle East Debate now appears here.

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It is interesting that the European Holocaust that consumed the Jews, Gypsies and others, is being taught.

And, it is interesting to see WHAT lessons, Europeans want to take away from this 'study' about the Holocaust.

Here is a example:

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pag...p=1008596981749

"A photo of PM Ariel Sharon alongside one of Adolph Hitler is currently being exhibited at the Anna Frank Museum in Amsterdam, reported Army Radio Wednesday. "

What lessons do you think Europeans should be learning and teaching from the holocaust??

In my view the most important lessons are that racism, prejudice and discrimination should be exposed and challenged wherever it occurs.

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A recent survey carried out by the Jewish Chronicle revealed that one British person in seven believes that the scale of the Nazi Holocaust against Jews is exaggerated.

The same survey showed that nearly 20% - one in five – of those questioned also said that a Jewish prime minister would be less acceptable than a member of any other faith. These figures could be especially significant in Britain as Michael Howard, the leader of the Conservative Party, is the first Jewish leader of a major political in recent times.

Despite these depressing survey results, a leading expert in the field commented that these findings indicated that anti-Semitism in Britain was lower than in the United States or other parts of Europe.

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