The language of hate
Thank you to Michael Wood for his thought-provoking, even stirring piece about the Holocaust ( Comment, August). My children’s schools are teaching them to read, listen and watch critically by dissecting adverts and internet posts, stories and news articles. This is vital to help them navigate the constant stream of information and misinformation they are immersed in today. Teaching the Holocaust should be part of this.
Looking at the books, films, songs, stories and newspapers that helped to create a climate where Hitler could be elected to power, and divide nations into Us and Them, would allow our children to compare ideas and language then, with the language of politicians, the media and the streets today. To study, and to begin to understand, how an educated nation can be trained to become active or complicit in the attempted murder of an entire people is essential. It is the only way we can challenge the lazy thinking and easy prejudice that allows society to decide fellow human beings are deemed unworthy of life because of their faith, their origins, politics, gender, sexuality or disability.
The Holocaust was a unique event in world history, but the issues that allowed it to happen are never far away. Education and honest discussion are our only defence against prejudice in all its forms. I would add another book to your suggested reading list: Into that Darkness by Gitta Sereny. Her calm, thoughtful writing depicts an ordinary family man who became the commander of Treblinka – a prospect far more horrifying than if he were a screaming monster. Helen van der Veken, Cheshire
We reward the Letter of the Month writer with our ‘History Choice’ book of the month. This issue, it’s The Lion and the Eagle: The Interaction of the British and American Empires 1783-1972 by Kathleen Burk. Read the review on page 71.
A poster for the anti-Semitic German film Jud Süss, released in 1940