Largest-ever Shoah ed­u­ca­tion sur­vey

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY SI­MON ROCKER

MORE THAN two-thirds of sec­ondary school pupils in England are un­aware of the mean­ing of the term “an­tisemitism”, ac­cord­ing to a ma­jor new re­port on Holo­caust ed­u­ca­tion.

While the vast ma­jor­ity of pupils thought it im­por­tant to learn about the Shoah, and most wanted to know more about it, the ma­jor­ity ap­peared to “lack core knowl­edge and un­der­stand­ing” of its key fea­tures.

The sur­vey of nearly 8,000 school stu­dents by Univer­sity Col­lege Lon­don’s Cen­tre for Holo­caust Ed­u­ca­tion is the largest re­search of its kind to have been con­ducted any­where in the world.

More than 85 per cent of those ques­tioned said that they had learned about the Shoah at school by Year 10 (13 to 14-year-olds), ac­cord­ing to the re­port — What Do Stu­dents Know and Un­der­stand About the Holo­caust?

While 83 per cent be­lieved it was im­por­tant to study the Holo­caust at school, more than 70 per cent of those who had stud­ied it wanted to know more.

Most knew Jews were the pri­mary vic­tims, but also had “lit­tle un­der­stand­ing of why they were per­se­cuted and mur­dered”.

A third “mas­sively un­der­es­ti­mated” the scale of the Shoah, with 10 per cent believ­ing that fewer than 100,000 Jews were killed.

Most be­lieved that the mass mur­der took place in Ger­many rather than East­ern Europe, and more than half thought that the largest num­ber of Jews mur­dered came from Ger­many rather than Poland.

While 71 per cent linked Auschwitz to the Holo­caust, fewer than a sixth recog­nised the names of other camps such as Tre­blinka or Ber­gen-Belsen.

More than half of stu­dents in the first three­year­sof sec­ondaryschool­be­lieved Adolf Hitler was solely to blame.

Older stu­dents knew more about the Nazis, but tended to be­lieve that they were an elite group rather than a po­lit­i­cal party which en­joyed broad­based sup­port among the Ger­man pop­u­la­tion.

Fewer than 10 per cent sug­gested that the Ger­man peo­ple were “com­plicit in, or re­spon­si­ble for” the per­se­cu­tion of the Jews.

Knowl­edge of Bri­tain’s role was “very lim­itedand­often­erro­neous”,with­more than a third believ­ing Bri­tain en­tered the war be­cause of the Holo­caust.

Around a sixth ap­peared to be­lieve that Bri­tain drew up res­cue plans to save the J e ws, while just un­der a quar­ter thought that the Bri­tish di d not k now about the mass killing un­til the end of the war.

Th e re p o r t also ex­pressed con­cern about the im­pact of fic­tional ac­counts of the Holo­caust, such as the “his­tor­i­cally in­ac­cu­rate” The Boy in the Striped Py­ja­mas — by a long way “the most-read book and the most­watched fi l m” about the geno­cide.

The film, the re­port said, “ap­pears to be prop­a­gat­ing the dis­cred­ited but pop­u­lar idea that most Ger­mans didn’t know what was hap­pen­ing”.

While many stu­dents knew that other groups such as ho­mo­sex­u­als, dis­abled peo­ple and Gyp­sies were vic­timised by the Nazis, most were un­fa­mil­iar with the spe­cific poli­cies tar­geted at them.

Mus­lim stu­dents “did not ap­pear to dif­fer sig­nif­i­cantly” in their at­ti­tudes from the over­all sam­ple, the re­port noted. Ac­cord­ing to the em­i­nent Is­raeli Holo­caust his­to­rian Ye­huda Bauer, writ­ing in the in­tro­duc­tion, the fin­ings “laid to rest” be­liefs that young Mus­lims are op­posed to learn­ing about the Shoah.

More time should be given to the teach­ing of the Holo­caust than the av­er­age six hours in school, the re­port sug­gested. It also stressed the need for “sub­stan­tive his­tor­i­cal knowl­edge” and to avoid a “sim­plis­tic ‘lessons from’ ap­proach”.

Th o s e wh o had heard a Holo­caust sur­vivor speak found it an “es­pe­cially pow­er­ful ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence”.

The au­thors st r e s s e d th a t the re­port was in­tended to help im­prove Shoah ed u c a t i o n i n schools rather than as a crit­i­cism of teach­ers and stu­dents.

“Many of our find­ings are pos­i­tive, some supris­ing and oth­ers are deeply trou- bling,” they said.

The Holo­caust is cur­rently a com­pul­sory part of the his­tory cur­ricu­lum for pre-GCSE stu­dents.

Trevor Pears, chair­man of the Pears Foundation — which co-spon­sors the UCL cen­tre with the Depart­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion — said: “What struck me per­son­ally was the lack of recog­ni­tion of the term ‘an­tisemitism’, which is deeply con­cern­ing. It leaves young peo­ple strug­gling to un­der­stand why the Jews were tar­geted.”

Thou­sands of school­child­ren re­ceive Shoah lessons and visit former Nazi death


“You haven’t done your home­work either, Bibi”

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