A Rarity! The Majority of British Educators Expand the term Holocaust to Encompass the Polish Victims of Nazi German Genocide. Otherwise, Holocaust Education Remains the Same


A Rarity! The Majority of British Educators Expand the term Holocaust to Encompass the Polish Victims of Nazi German Genocide. Otherwise, Holocaust Education Remains the Same

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  • Holocaust Education: Promise, Practice, Power and Potential by E Doyle Stevick (Editor), Deborah L Michaels (Editor)  –  Published December 10th 2015 by Routledge

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This recently-published book shows what has changed in recent years and–more important–what has not. Let us begin with the one positive of this book.

BRITISH TEACHERS BUCK THE TREND, AND INCLUDE NON-JEWISH VICTIMS IN THE VERY WORD HOLOCAUST

British teachers are open to different definitions of the term Holocaust itself, and were asked to complete an online survey in this regard. Stuart Foster (p. 146) listed seven allotted possible definitions.

For instance, Definition (B) coincided with the standard Holocaust supremacist definition, in which Jews (supposedly) were targeted for complete destruction, and furthermore this (supposedly) was not the case with any other genocide. Definition (C) coincided with Holocaust preeminence, in that the Holocaust refers exclusively to Jews, but this time without any further connotation of specialness.

The most interesting is Definition (A). It expands the very term Holocaust to encompass the usually-neglected non-Jewish victims of the Nazis. Stuart Foster describes Definition (A) as follows: “The Holocaust was the persecution and murder of a range of victims by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. They were targeted for different reasons and were persecuted in different ways. Victims included Jews, Gypsies, disabled people, Poles, Slavs, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Soviet prisoners of war, Black people, and other political and ethnic groups.” (p. 146).

Of the surveyed British educators, 24.8% chose Definition (B) for the Holocaust, and another 8.3% chose Definition (C). Astonishingly, a majority (52.5%) chose Definition (A)! (pp. 136-137). For once, a measure of justice (Genocide Recognition Equality) had prevailed in the classroom.

Let us, however, keep things in perspective. The British educators are a singularity, and their relative fairness to non-Jewish genocides should not be exaggerated in overall importance. Read on:

THE CONTINUED USUAL PRIVILEGED STATUS OF THE VERY TERM HOLOCAUST IN EXCLUSIVE REFERENCE TO JEWS

Stevick and Michael ask, “To what extent should teaching the Holocaust be focused exclusively upon the six-million Jewish victims, and to what extent upon another five- or six-million innocent victims of the Nazis who were deliberately targeted? This is a normative question, and a complex one that has been the subject of much passionate debate, and for good reason.” (p. 5). The identified good reason is politics.

HOLOCAUST SUPREMACISM, BY ITS VERY NATURE, MARGINALIZES THE GENOCIDES OF OTHER PEOPLES

Consider the Gypsies, whose genocide at the hands of the Nazis (the Porajmos) has belatedly gotten some attention. Despite this, Michelle Kelso writes, “Even outside of Romania, the Nazi persecution of Roma is predominantly absent from the canonic literature of Holocaust historiography…According to anthropologist Stewart (2011, 140), even with these advances, the Romani genocide remains virtually silenced in academia and in national teaching curricula across Europe.” (p. 71).

Yes, and that of the Poles (the Polokaust, owing to the usual preoccupation of the term Holocaust exclusively for Jews) even more so.

HOLOCAUST MIS-EDUCATION IN POLAND: THE STANDARD POLONOPHOBIC MEMES. WANTING IT BOTH WAYS

Magdalena H. Gross analyzes the teaching of the Jews’ Holocaust in Poland, and, in doing so, manages to repeat all the canned accusations against Poland.

She complains, as so many Judeocentric commentators had done before her, that Jewish victims are “folded into the story of Polish victimhood” (p. 105). In other words, Holocaust supremacism rules in Poland, and Poles are very naughty whenever they associate the genocide of the Jews (the Shoah) with that of their own (the Polokaust).

Gross does not disappointed the reader as she brings up the obligatory fact of Polish collaborators (with silence about Jewish collaborators), and then comments that, “in certain rare cases”, Poles helped fugitive Jews. (p. 105). That’s pretty Orwellian. “Rare” by whose arbitrary standard? She does not sound like she has a clue about the magnitude of German terror in occupied Poland, including the German-imposed death penalty for the slightest Polish aid to Jews. Is it any wonder that some Poles reasonably conclude that Jews are ungrateful towards Polish rescue of Jews?

Magdalena Gross then brings up (what else?) Polish anti-Semitism. In terms of specifics, she complains about “socially tolerated anti-Semitism” (p. 106), but never even defines the term. Is she saying that Jews are to be perpetually exempt from any Polish criticism, even as they never stop criticizing the Poles?

So what should be the outcome of Holocaust education in Poland? Magdalena H. Gross cites Polish teachers who say that, “They want young people to understand that the Holocaust, the ‘Jewish’ issue, is in fact a POLISH issue.” (p. 110. Emphasis is hers), and that “…the Jewish experience has not been fully incorporated into the Polish consciousness.” (p. 117).

In other words, Gross has been saying that “Jews should be set apart from Poles”, and now she is saying that “Jews should not be set apart from Poles”. She cannot have it both ways!

Jan Peczkis

Published with the author’s permission.

– More reviews by Jan Peczkis on PCO  ….. .

  • Title image: „Holocaust Education: Promise, Practice, Power and Potential” by E Doyle Stevick (Editor), Deborah L Michaels (Editor), part of the cover / selected by wg.pco

Polish-Club-Online-PCO-logo-2, 2018.12.23. / Update 2019.03.30.