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Holocaust Memorial Day 2015

Post date: 
Mon, 26/01/2015 - 09:30

Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz there is still much for Citizenship teachers to do in helping pupils make sense of the past and reconciling this with the present, especially the turmoil over events in France this month. At the 2015 Holocaust Memorial Day lecture, Professor Christopher Browning reflected on the role played by the ordinary men and women who actually did the killing by shooting or other means. This is very different from concentrating on the policy makers and organisers. Whilst much is written about the planners and strategists of the Holocaust and genocide, too often we forget to ask:

  • Who were the perpetrators?
  • What enabled them to kill and go on killing?
  • How did they make sense of the mass shootings and executions and whole scale murder?
  • Presented with a choice as to whether or not take part, why did so few refuse?
  • Were they operating under duress?
  • Were these men and women abnormal?
  • Did they have an inbuilt hatred of those they murdered?
  • How did they de humanise their victims whilst at the same time think their actions were worthy?

These are difficult questions for us to consider, let alone with pupils. Choosing the right questions, the right resources and using the correct teaching approaches is vital if we are to dig deeper into these matters and continue to ensure that genocide is always seen as unacceptable and that the testimony of those who survived the Holocaust helps us in combating xenophobia, prejudice and racism. Teachers should consider using resources and activities from the providers below:

  1. Holocaust Education Trust
  2. The IoE Centre for Holocaust Education
  3. The National Holocaust Centre and Museum


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