Holocaust Education For Children

Shalom Flame

They came for the communists, and I did not speak up because I wasn't a communist;
They came for the socialists, and I did not speak up because I wasn't a socialist;
They came for the union leaders, and I did not speak up because I wasn't a union leader;
They came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak up for me.

Martin Niemoller 1892-1984

Teaching about the Holocaust is a challenge of awesome proportions. Few, if any, events in recent history have had its impact or implications. Perhaps the most important lesson of the Holocaust is to move away from the perception that it is important only to Jews. Jews were the principal victims, but the crimes were committed by persons raised in European cultures that were in a great measure shaped by Christianity. This teaches us that any society can descend to that level unless safeguards are put into place; and, one of the most important places to begin is in the classroom. The Holocaust must be brought into the classroom so that students can analyze the hatred and bigotry that can lead to genocide. Any remembrance or teaching of the Holocaust, whether secular or religious, must aim at preventing its recurrance.

Momentum: Journal of the National Catholic Educational Association, February 1988

Objectives for Grades K - 4

When we teach about the Holocaust to young children, those in kindergarten through fourth grade, we do not focus on the horrors of that time. The following are objectives appropriate to the grade levels:
  • Kindergarten
    To help students realize that differences make each of us special.
    To understand the meaning of same and different.
    To recognize similarities and differences with regard to families.
    To treat others with compassion and understanding.

  • First Grade

    To help students understand the concept of stereotyping
      and prejudice.
    To appreciate diversity.
    To focus students on caring.
    To cooperate with others.

  • Second Grade

    To help students recognize that we are enriched
      by differences that make each person special.
    To understand that actions affect others and us.
    To acquaint students with prejudicial behaviors.
    To increase understanding and be sensitive to the
      needs of other people.

  • Third Grade

    To acquaint students with the multi-ethnic,
      multicultural makeup of America's citizens.
    To understand the significance of the Statue of Liberty.
    To understand that many Americans are immigrants.
    To understand the nature of prejudice.

  • Fourth Grade

    To introduce students to the choices faced by non-Jews.
    To understand the role of the rescuer.
    To understand that personal risk may be necessary to stand up for
      what is right.
    To understand that one person can make a difference.

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