Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

My Best Lesson - How Was the Holocaust Allowed to Happen?: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

My Best Lesson - How Was the Holocaust Allowed to Happen?: News

Article excerpt

Students often struggle to understand why no one stopped the Nazis from killing approximately 6 million Jews and why the Jews themselves did not take more action to prevent the Holocaust.

So I planned a series of lessons with the objective of explaining the growing persecution of the Jews in Germany between 1933 and 1939, and the ways in which their lives were made miserable. The lessons were for 13- to 14-year-olds who had already covered the causes of the Second World War and the key conflicts in Europe and the Pacific. I wanted to show students how discrimination and hatred or belittlement of any kind can have a horrific effect.

The first lesson begins with the end - showing the class images of the ghettos, concentration camps and gas chambers, and statistics about the death toll. The next lesson introduces the concept of anti-Semitism and the background of the Jewish race, then explores how anti-Semitic propaganda and laws began to permeate German society. I focus particularly on school-based propaganda to keep the message relevant. We draw comparisons with students who are bullied and believe that they are worthless if they are told so enough times. …

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