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Oct 23 2013

“What is the Holocaust?” is a Hard Question for Too Many College Students

By at 2:39 pm

The majority of you will be startled and sickened when you watch this video. Some may nervously laugh (like me), as a reaction to what at first can be perceived as pure ignorance; but as author/director/educator Rhonda Fink-Whitman suggests, insensitivity itself isn’t to blame. The intro is a bit long, so if you are in a crunch for time, fast forward to 1:58 seconds.

Whitman, author of 94 Maidens, a Holocaust story inspired by true events (her mother was a Holocaust survivor) interviews Pennslyvania public school graduates on their basic knowledge of the Holocaust. I mean basic:

“What is the Holocaust?”

“Where did the Holocaust happen?”

The response from most of the young people interviewed ranged from, “I have no idea,” to “I think it was…ummm… I am totally blanking right now,” to sheer awe and embarrassment for appearing so perplexed on camera.

Some of the more “complicated” questions:

“What was the Final Solution?”

“What were the Nuremburg Trials?”

Towards the end of the video Rhonda interviews two females who (thankfully) knew the answer to all of her questions. Why did these girls know who Anne Frank was and not the Pennslyvania students? Simple. One girl grew up in New York and the other in New Jersey–two of five states in the U.S. which have mandatory Holocaust education in classrooms, including public and charter schools grades 6-12.

The other states which make Holocaust education mandatory: California, Florida, and Illinois. For everyone else (in the video) it seems, Adolf Hitler may have been born in England, and what would it matter? It’s scary, but true: some people REALLY don’t know–which is why this video is so effective in exposing the faults in America’s education system’s curriculum. Rhonda hopes that after seeing this video, others will begin to advocate and vote for the Holocaust and genocide education bill: a mandate for Holocaust education for all students in America.

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