The official student newspaper of St. John's School.

Holocaust Teaching

I went to The Holocaust Museum in DC. From the moment I stepped on the elevator to walking into a real dormitory used during that time, I was blue — but once I laid my eyes on a gas chamber that was used in one of the camps in Auschwitz, I could not hold back my tears.

Today, when I see Kanye’s and other antisemitic posts, I can’t help but think of the beginning of the exhibit, which displayed the rise of Hitler and all of the Nazi madness. I can’t help but think that people who spread antisemitism don’t just not understand about the Holocaust, but they don’t know. Maybe because they never paid attention during school, but I don’t think it’s that… I think it’s because they never really learned.

This is one thing that makes my family and I bothered about schools today. Schools teach kids about almost every religion and all of their backstories, but I find one to be left out, the very one I practice: Judaism. No wonder generations are scared that the Holocaust will all be forgotten – how else will people know but by simply a museum and by conversation? I don’t just think that this needs to change, I know this needs to change.

When I brought my topic up to Anna Thomas, my history teacher and advisor. she told me how she learned about it. “I didn’t really learn about it in school. When I was 12 my family took a trip to Berlin and we went to the Holocaust memorial and we saw some museums. I knew it existed before then but that’s when I learned about it more deeply,” she said. This made me realize that it’s not just schools today that don’t teach about it; schools in the past did not either.

More than 32 states don’t have legislation requiring schools to teach kids about the Holocaust and only five of the states that do have legislation passed the laws before 2017.

This means that not just students around me but many adults don’t know about the Holocaust. While I was talking with a 6th grader at St. John’s, she told me that all she really knew was that it was about antisemitism, and it doesn’t get much better. Another classmate said that all she pretty much knew was that it was run by Hitler and was really bad. I can’t blame them — they were never really told anything about it. They never learned in school and no one offered to tell them about it. I asked another student her opinion on learning about the Holocaust and she said that she thinks that it’s good to learn about everything in history, including the Holocaust.

I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just me who thought this way, so I asked another Jewish girl in my grade. She says that although she really wants to learn about it in school she just thinks that people won’t take it seriously. If we do take a class on it, she thinks that the teachers should make sure that it is taken seriously by all students. Although some students may joke about it, it is more important that they know about it.

According to Axios, antisemitic hate crimes are trending higher this year and could pass 2021 numbers. You never know – the people around me could contribute to those numbers and we certainly don’t want them to rise. There have been more than 3,697 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism in just the US since 1979. Those are only the big ones that we know about. There have been hundreds of other antisemitic crimes that have just not been reported.

If schools start to teach more on the Holocaust and Judaism it could prevent further antisemitism. Even though I am just a small girl at a small school, I know that I, I know that we could make a difference. Because it was said “Never again” but who will be here to stand ground in the future? Like I said, it’s not about what people around me don’t know, but what they should know. Though how would they know… If they never learned?

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