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Lessons for Educators


4. Preventing and combating Holocaust distortion

At crucial junctures, every individual makes decisions and… every decision is individual.

Raul Hilberg

Learning Objectives

  • To increase awareness of concrete measures that can be taken to prevent and counter Holocaust distortion
  • To generate commitment for taking action to prevent and counter Holocaust distortion

Learning Activities

  1. Reaction to and Prevention of Holocaust Distortion
  2. Concrete Measures for Preventing and Countering Holocaust Distortion
  3. Further Resources

Suggestions for Trainers

The activities in this unit ask participants to reflect upon the importance of reacting to and preventing Holocaust distortion, as well as upon their own responsibility in this regard, by offering them the opportunity to identify concrete contexts and factors that facilitate action.

The first activity starts with two videos in which the interviewees express different opinions about how to react to Holocaust denial and distortion, which are quite different – one calls for immediate action and one transmits the idea that people who express such beliefs should not be given a platform to share their views. Different reactions can be valid for different contexts and there is no “one size fits all” approach that can function in every context and with every individual. Understanding the context is very important, in order to decide what kind of reactions are relevant for which context. The activity continues with reflection about the difference between reacting to and preventing Holocaust distortion. This will help participants understand that countering Holocaust distortion requires both reactive and preventative measures. It is important to take action when faced with Holocaust distortion, but it is equally important to contribute to the development of societies that value historical truth and critical thinking, in order to prevent manifestations of Holocaust distortion. Discussing how reaction and prevention can also intertwine is important at this point. In the second part of the activity, the participants are invited to analyze case studies of Holocaust distortion, as well as to think about possible reactions to such manifestations. Several case studies are offered in the Annex. These can serve as examples. If the participants encountered other manifestations of Holocaust distortion in their class/activities those can also be discussed.

The second activity invites the participants to think of the conditions that facilitate the spread of Holocaust distortion and the factors/competences that counter the spread of Holocaust distortion. In the first part of the activity the participants are asked to think about the aspects that contribute to the spread of Holocaust distortion. Then, they are asked to think about aspects that can limit the spread of Holocaust distortion. The activity is designed in such a way that the participants do not have to find “solutions” for the problems they have identified, but for the problems identified by other participants. This approach can help them be more creative and generate further ideas. In the second part of the activity, the participants analyze the context in which they are teaching/working and discuss what can facilitate the implementation of these “solutions.” It is not enough to know what to do or what “should be done,” it is important for educators to identify opportunities where they can discuss about topics related to Holocaust distortion, to make sure that this is not something they just mention once, but a transversal topic they address in various curricular and extra-curricular activities, school events and project, etc.

The role of the trainer is very important in these activities, especially to motivate teachers to not be bystanders and to take action when they are faced with situations of Holocaust distortion. The participants are asked to analyze hypothetical situations, but they might have encountered similar situations in the past or might be confronted with them or similar in the future. This training should not be just a theoretical exercise but should empower them to be upstanders and contribute to countering Holocaust distortion.

The recommendations for individual study offered in this unit can be shared with the participants and should be consulted by the trainer when preparing the training.

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