Why teach the Holocaust?

Teachers who are new to teaching about the Holocaust, and even veteran teachers, may be asked, “Why teach about the Holocaust?”  Sometimes that answer may be easy. “So it never happens again!” However, sometimes it may be a difficult question to answer.

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), “Students in grades six and above demonstrate the ability to empathize with individual eyewitness accounts and to attempt to understand the complexities of Holocaust history, including the scope and scale of the events. While elementary age students are able to empathize with individual accounts, they often have difficulty placing them in a larger historical context.

Such developmental differences have traditionally shaped social studies curricula throughout the country. In most states, students are not introduced to European history and geography—the context of the Holocaust—before middle school. Elementary school can be an ideal place to begin discussing the value of diversity and the danger of bias and prejudice. These critical themes can be addressed through local and national historical events and can be reinforced during later study of the Holocaust.”