Working Group of the International Task Force on Holocaust Education, Research
Guidelines for Teaching about the Holocaust (Shoah)
Austria, Germany, Italy, Israel, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, United
Kingdom, United States
In general, teaching about the Holocaust should:
- Advance knowledge about this unprecedented
- Preserve the memory of those who suffered
- Encourage educators and students to reflect
upon the moral and spiritual questions raised by the events of the Holocaust
and as they apply in today’s world
These aims can be clearly seen in the following definitions of the Holocaust:
- Under the cover of the Second World War, for
the sake of their “new order,” the Nazis sought to destroy all the Jews
of Europe. For the first time in history, industrial methods were used for
the mass extermination of a whole people. Six million were murdered,
including 1,500,000 children. This event is called the Holocaust.
The Nazis enslaved and murdered millions of others as well. Gypsies, people
with physical and mental disabilities, Poles, Soviet prisoners of war, trade
unionists, political opponents, prisoners of conscience, homosexuals, and
others were killed in vast numbers.
Imperial War Museum, London,
UK [Siehe auch: The
- The Holocaust refers to a specific genocidal
event in twentieth-century history: the state-sponsored, systematic
persecution and annihilation of European Jewry by Nazi Germany and its
collaborators between 1933 and 1945. Jews were the primary victims —6
million were murdered; Gypsies, the handicapped, and Poles were also
targeted for destruction or decimation for racial, ethnic, or national
reasons. Millions more, including homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Soviet
prisoners of war, and political dissidents, also suffered grievous
oppression and death under Nazi tyranny.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,
Washington, D.C., USA [Siehe auch: The
Holocaust Learning Center]
- The Holocaust was the murder of approximately
six million Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators. Between the German
invasion of the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941 and the end of the war in
Europe in May 1945, Nazi Germany and its accomplices strove to murder every
Jew under their domination. Because Nazi discrimination against the Jews
began with Hitler’s accession to power in January 1933, many historians
consider this the start of the Holocaust era. The Jews were not the only
victims of Hitler’s regime, but they were the only group that the Nazis
sought to destroy entirely.
Yad Vashem, Jerusalem,
Israel [Siehe auch: The
Yad Vashem International School for Holocaust Studies - Educational
Teaching about the Holocaust can and must be different in various contexts.
In order to see the differences between the Holocaust and other genocides,
comparisons should be carefully distinguished and similarities also should be
When teaching about the Holocaust, it is helpful to address three basic
- Why shall I teach about the Holocaust?
- What shall I teach about the Holocaust?
- How shall I teach about the Holocaust?
The first question involves issues of rationale. The second question involves
selection of information, while the third question deals with appropriate
pedagogical approaches based on the student group. These guidelines do not
address the first and third questions. These questions will be addressed in
In addition to history, the Holocaust can also be approached through other
disciplines, such as literature, psychology, religious studies, and others.
As national and local commemorative activities are seen to be of value, it is
advised to provide educational support to such activities.
The study of the Holocaust must be examined within the context of European
history as a whole. We encourage educators to also examine the local context for
this history. Educators should provide context for the events of the Holocaust
by including information about:
As for the historical themes or topics connected
with teaching about the Holocaust, educators might examine the following, among
others, when constructing lessons on the Holocaust. As they do so, they may
consider this history from the perspectives of the:
- Jewish life in Europe before the Holocaust
- The aftermath of World War I
- The Nazi rise to power
- Dictatorship in National Socialist Germany
- Jewry in the Third Reich
- Early stages of persecution
- The first concentration camps
- World response
- World War II in Europe
- Nazi racist ideologies and policies
- “Euthanasia” program
- Persecution and murder of Jews
- Persecution and murder of non-Jewish victims
- Jewish reactions to Nazi policies
- Mobile killing squads
- Expansion of the camp system
- Killing centers
- World response
- Death marches
- Postwar trials
- Displaced persons camps and emigration
The purpose of these guidelines is to strengthen teaching about the Holocaust.
The teaching will be different from country to country, from school to school,
and from time to time. Therefore, it is understood that it is important to
stress the need for self-evaluation of teaching efforts by all educators.