The Importance Of German Holocaust Education

1684 Words 7 Pages
German Holocaust Education

The Holocaust is generally considered to be one of the biggest human tragedies in history. Around 5.93 million Jewish people are estimated to have been killed (Dawidowicz, 1975:403), along with millions of other people; political prisoners, prisoners of war, Romani, homosexuals, and other minority groups. As such, it is an important part of German history which receives a certain amount of focus in education.
The importance of the Holocaust as a part of German history makes it a very interesting topic to investigate. I intend to investigate the way the events of the Holocaust are taught in Germany. For this investigation, I have set out questions for German students to answer about the way they are
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Holocaust education is mandatory (Meseth and Proske, 2010:206), however students must be interested in the subject matter, or run the risk of not picking up the intended messages. For the same reason, teachers must be careful about how they expose students to information.
Marks (2007:270-271) cites Dienst-Demuth and Stickel (2001), and talks about how students in a middle-school class went out to interview senior citizens about their experiences of National Socialism. Students who did the interviews then summarised them, and one of the worrying things that they found, was that students were reproducing quotes from the interviews, saying things like “As a girl aged ten I had to join the BDM…” rather than something like: “The interviewee Mrs. X told us that…” Marks says that this does not allow the students to critically reflect on the stories they are told. Students were swept up into the world of the interviewee, and there is no mention of the victims of National Socialism, such as the Jews, or other Germans killed. Marks states that this creates empathy for former Nazis, who are seen as victims, rather than willing participants, instead of the real victims, the Jews, Poles, and other persecuted
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Students are taught the facts and figures about the Holocaust as early as grade 6, and will listen to the experiences of those who lived during the time of the Holocaust. Students take to these methods with varying degrees of enthusiasm and for varying reasons, and this can have varying effects on how well they take in this message.
It is important for students to take on the societally prescribed ideas from this education, and for this to happen, education about the Holocaust must happen in a way that benefits as many students as possible. My study found that while most of the students tended to find the subject interesting, many others found it to be overly repetitive, and led to me wondering if there was a better way for it to be approached. Many students, even ones that found the topic boring said that the current method was effective, but could be made more so they rethought the frequency and intensity of

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