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Our view: Holocaust lessons must be learned

Herald pull quote, 7/31/19
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A school principal in Florida has been reassigned to another position after he told a parent the Holocaust was not a “factual, historical event.”

One in 20 adults in England does not believe the Holocaust happened. Eight percent say the scale of the Holocaust has been exaggerated.

Thirty-one percent of Americans in a 2018 poll said they do not believe 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust and think the actual toll is fewer than 2 million. Half of Americans surveyed could not name a single concentration camp, and two-thirds of millennials don’t know about Auschwitz.

This lack of awareness – and in some cases, outright denial – is all quite ridiculous, really.

Good, then, that some lawmakers are working on legislation that would help fund an initiative to better educate and remind Americans about the Holocaust and its important lesson in world history.

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To be clear: The Holocaust happened. During the years of World War II, Nazi leaders from Germany ordered the murder of upwards of 6 million Jews. It actually began in the 1930s as Adolf Hitler came into power and started the process of persecuting, tormenting, isolating and terrorizing Jews in Germany. It was Hitler’s “Final Solution.”

Three-quarters of a century later, it would seem the Holocaust would serve as a reminder of the evils of racism. Unfortunately, it isn’t always the case.

Thus the Never Again Education Act, a bill sponsored by Nevada Democrat Jacky Rosen and co-sponsored by Connective Democrat Richard Blumenthal, Florida Republican Marco Rubio and North Dakota Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer.

The Herald outlined the legislation in a piece published in Saturday’s edition. In it, Cramer says “with antisemitism on the rise in certain parts of the country, even among some elected officials, increased education about this terrible tragedy is as important as ever.”

If passed, the Never Again Education Act will establish a fund for training and education, including textbooks and transportation costs for educators to attend seminars. It also would provide transportation costs for Holocaust survivors to visit schools. It would direct experts at the Department of Education to work with educators and to help better incorporate education about the Holocaust into classroom settings.

It’s an appropriate response to an alarming trend.

At least eight nations require their schools to teach about the Holocaust. Eleven U.S. states do, too. The requirement is not in place in the Dakotas and Minnesota, but it should be.

As Holocaust survivors fade into history, it’s important to keep this tragedy written in bold type in history books. Too many simply do not understand what the Holocaust was, and therefore cannot fully grasp how racism and antisemitism can rip a country apart.

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At its worst, this new era of Holocaust denial – or simple ignorance – could someday spark old hatred that should have been doused decades ago.

“The story of the Holocaust must always be taught so that the experience of the Holocaust may never be repeated,” Cramer said.

Exactly. And in lieu of laws that require Holocaust teaching, the Never Again Education Act is a good and right step in that direction.

Related Topics: OUR VIEWKEVIN CRAMER
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