Teaching History: International Perspectives
As Holocaust education becomes an increasingly transnational phenomenon, international dialogue between academics, educators and teachers only grows in importance. Following the success of the special Holocaust edition of Teaching History, the IOE is inviting practitioners from around the globe to respond to some of the issues and themes raised in the journal and critically reflect upon them from their own national perspectives. In so doing, we hope to enrich understanding of commonalities and differences in approaches to Holocaust education internationally, and spark a sustained exchange of ideas and viewpoints across borders on the challenges and opportunities of teaching this subject.
Over the course of the coming weeks, the first of these international perspectives will appear on this page so please be sure to check back regularly. If you would like more information on how to submit your own response, or think that a colleague may be interested, please email us at email@example.com.
Using Witness Testimony from the Eichmann Trial in the Classroom
Richelle Budd Caplan
The trial of Adolf Eichmann is widely recognised as one of the landmarks in the post-war 'afterlife' of the Holocaust for a number of reasons, ranging from its symbolic significance in the pursuit of justice, through its role in stimulating international interest in the subject, to the importance of challenging preconceptions regarding the perpetrators of the genocide. In her paper, Richelle Budd Caplan from the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem, highlights how the trial also crucially brought the victims of the Holocaust into the public sphere. Focusing in particular on the dramatic testimony of Yechiel Dinur – better known as Ka-tzetnik – given at the trial, Budd Caplan explores how the testimonies of Holocaust survivors can afford us insights into the human impact of the Holocaust and be used to challenge our students’ thinking.
The View from Croatia
Edited by Andy Pearce
With the international spread of Holocaust education it is easy to forget that some countries have only recently moved to formalise teaching about the Holocaust within their respective curricula, and that as such Holocaust education remains – quite rightly – very much work in progress. By the same token, it is important to remember that how national education systems choose to approach the Holocaust reflect and speak to particular local histories – both those long-term and more recent. In this paper, Andy Pearce from the IOE’s Centre for Holocaust Education summarises the range of responses received from colleagues working in Croatia. Through this overview Pearce suggests that both the specific and the generic challenges faced by Croatian educators carries relevance for all those working in the field.
Peer-Guiding: Experiences in the Memorial Natzweiler-Struthof
In recent years, the amount of young people visiting Holocaust-related sites has increased substantially as a growing number of teachers and educators across Europe have organised educational visits for their students. Recent research conducted by the European Fundamental Rights Agency has reflected on and responded to this trend, noting the practice at some memorial and museum sites of peer-guiding. In this paper, Dr. Kuno Rinke – a social science, history and geography teacher at a gymnasium in North-Rhine-Westphalia, Germany – recounts his experience of organising his school's annual 'European Seminar' for his Year 10 pupils, which includes visiting Strasbourg and a peer-guided visit to the Memorial Natzweiler-Struthof. Rinke argues that although site visits in themselves must be understood as but one component in a programme of learning, the experience of peer-guiding can have a range of benefits for all concerned.
Holocaust Teaching in Austria
The positive ways in which former perpetrator nations can engage with the legacies of genocide has for some time been exemplified by Germany – particularly in the years since reunification in 1990, and especially with regard to education. In Austria, confrontation with the histories of the Holocaust was for some time handicapped by the so-called 'first-victim paradigm' by which the nation was absolved of responsibility and culpability. Whilst change has since occurred Robert Kozak, an English and History teacher from Graz, questions in this impassioned paper whether more still needs to be done. Reflecting on his own experience and recalling some of the key moments in Austria’s recent engagement with this history, Kozak expresses his anxiety that teaching the Holocaust as a closed 'history' may potentially lead to young Austrians failing to see their own duty to not just remember but act differently in the future.
Entering That Darkness
Cheryl A. Fury
Although nearly thirty years have passed since Nora Levin remarked that the increasing ‘accumulation of facts’ did not ‘yield’ understanding of ‘how mass murder on such a scale could have happened or be allowed to happen’, such perplexities have lost none of their potency. At root rest issues of agency and behaviour – principally on the part of the perpetrators, but also of others as well. In this contribution, Cheryl A. Fury approaches these matters through reflection on her teaching experiences in Canada. Noting how many of her students display similar ‘Hitler-centric’ preconceptions to those found elsewhere, Fury discusses some of the difficulties young people encounter when faced with the perpetrators. Given these, Fury argues that it is all the more imperative to find ways to collapse the spatial and temporal distances between young people and this history, and encourage them to unearth the local links that their present has with this past.