Some of the findings of a recent poll about the Holocaust truly stunned me. In the framework of the survey, about 400 students and soldiers were asked, among other things, whether the Holocaust can happen again, what is the best Shoah studies method in their view (classes at school, documentaries, or visits to death camps in Poland,) and what is their attitude to Holocaust survivors.
As it turned out, 82% of respondents said that another Holocaust is a possible scenario.
This figure is worrisome, and should be addressed today of all days, on the date declared by the United Nations as International Holocaust Day. If 63 years after the end of World War II, which brought to an end the mass murder of European Jewry, and 60 years after the establishment of the State of Israel, which was built on the ruins of that Jewry, almost all young respondents think that a Shoah can happen again – we are facing a big problem.
In that respect, our education system totally failed, as did parents in the past two generations. If for six decades we were unable to explain that the Jewish people learned in the cruelest and most terrible way that the State of Israel is the absolute guarantee to the Jewish people’s safety, we must immediately change our approach, our curriculum, and all our explanations.
The poll revealed that 54% of high school students believe that the best way to form an impression about the Holocaust is through tours in Poland, so this means we need a new approach in planning and conducting these tours. The committee members and historians who prepare the students before they embark on their trip to Poland must change their approach. They must emphasize time and again that the Holocaust was a phenomenon that will not be repeated.
At the end of the tours they must also emphasize, along with history teachers, that the Jewish people and the State of Israel no longer face such danger, certainly not from a European country or any other enlightened nation. We are certainly facing dangers, but not from the same direction.
Youngsters must not live under grim shadow
Everyone must repeat this time and again, and the education system must increase the amount of time dedicated to the subject and recruit people who are well familiar with it – rather than tasking teachers who are not experts or instructors who finished one course with this mission.
The Shoah, as I have been emphasizing for dozens of years, was not “just another genocide,” like the ones we have seen before and still see today. It was a calculated, thoroughly planned mass murder that was methodically implemented by hundreds of thousands if not millions of Germans and their helpers from various nations; step by step, with determination, based on a master plan.
Therefore, the Holocaust cannot repeat; because Israel, the Jewish people’s state, will be able to contend with such new evil plan, if it indeed emerges.
This is what we should be teaching our youngsters; we must not allow them to live under the grim shadow of the terrible tragedy that befell European Jewry during Hitler’s reign in Germany.