One would think that in the United States, there would be mandatory education about the Holocaust. But currently, there are only 12 states that require it.
Massachusetts is not one.
According to a study published by Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, 4-in-10 millennials believe fewer than 2 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, and almost half of Americans cannot name at least one concentration camp or ghetto out of the 40,000.
The rise of attention to education on the Holocaust began when Sean Spicer, former White House press secretary in the Trump Administration, claimed Hitler never used chemical weapons, which is untrue.
Nazis used Zyklon B, a cyanide-based pesticide, in gas chambers and vans. Some of the most well-known concentration camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau and Majdanek used Zyklon B pellets in their gas chambers.
Although Spicer later apologized for his comment, it goes to show how uneducated the American public is on the Holocaust, including those who work in the White House.
Spicer’s comments on the Holocaust triggered the New York-based Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect to launch the “50 State Genocide Education Project.” The goal of the project is to mandate all 50 states and the District of Columbia to educate students about the Holocaust.
Steven Goldstein, the organization’s executive director, wants to emphasize the Anne Frank Center is focusing on education not only on the Holocaust, but the Armenian genocide, and other genocides as well.
According to the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect’s website, 19 states are pushing for the required education on the Holocaust and genocide, including Massachusetts.
With the rise of anti-Semitic incidents, which increased 60% in 2017 according to the Anti-Defamation League, it is without a doubt essential for education on the Holocaust to be required in public schools.
It’s imperative to teach students the dangers of anti-Semitism and how the Holocaust is a watershed event in the entire course of human history according to the United States Holocaust Museum.
In 2019, Holocaust denial, a form of anti-Semitism, is still a problem that our society is facing. Some individuals truly believe the Holocaust is a hoax because there is no direct documentation Hitler ordered the extermination of Jewish citizens. They claim the Allies inflated the number of Jews killed during the war.
With proper education on the Holocaust, students will learn that information spread by deniers is false. Students can be taught the reality of what occurred in Nazi concentration camps, as well as throughout Nazi invaded countries such as Poland, Holland, France, and many others.
Not teaching the Holocaust is doing a disservice to both survivors and victims.
After the liberation of the camps and the end of World War II, we promised we would never forget.
In 2019, it seems as if we are letting the world forgot about the Holocaust.
It is essential that “Never forget” is more than just words and that our society does more to remember and honor the survivors and victims of Nazi Germany.
With more survivors passing away each year, we are losing the chance to listen to their stories and have students listen as well.
By introducing mandatory Holocaust education, we are teaching students that the Holocaust was not an accident. It happened because individuals and the government of Germany allowed the legalization of discrimination, prejudice, and eventually genocide to occur.
With this education, students will learn to stand up to injustice and use their voices to make a change in the world.
To help promote the 50 State Genocide Education Project, please consider donating, volunteering, or sharing their mission with friends and family.