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Broken Glass, Broken Promises

by on November 10, 2019

November 9-10 is the anniversary of KristallnachtThe Atlantic, in “The Echoes of Kristallnacht,” writes that the Gestapo chief Heinrich Müller, just before midnight on 1938 sent a telegram to every police unit in Nazi Germany:  “In shortest order actions against Jews and especially their synagogues will take place in all of Germany. These are not to be interfered with.”  Firefighters stood by as synagogues and Jewish-owned homes, schools, and businesses burned to the ground. Within a day, 91 Jews had been murdered, and between 20,000 and 30,000 arrested and sent to concentration camps,” writes The Atlantic.

And interviewee in the film by Leo Baeck Institute, about which “The Echoes of Kristallnacht” is based, said about those who ‘made it to America’: “America did not exactly make it easy.  That’s a myth—the open arms of the Statue of Liberty. It wasn’t true then, and it’s not true now.”

Now in the United States we have an increasingly tough immigration system that includes concentration camps where more than 10,000 children separated from their family are waiting to ‘come to America’ or to be turned away – sent back to where they wanted to escape from.

It’s sadly possible that Americans (the kind from the United States) don’t know this.  It’s even more possible, sadly that Americans (the kind from the United States) don’t know about Kristallnacht or the Holocaust that followed it.  This year Oregon became the 12 State to mandate teaching the Holocaust, writes Elaine Povich for PewTrusts.  The map the PewTrusts provides of which states do require Holocaust education shows a huge gap through the middle of our country.  (A few months later Washington also passed a bill requiring Holocaust education).  For instance, Povich writes that “A survey last year showed that two-thirds of U.S. millennials were not familiar with Auschwitz, the largest Nazi death camp complex, located near Krakow, Poland. More than 1.1 million people were gassed, shot or starved at Auschwitz, including nearly a million Jews.”

Thirteen States out of fifty means 26% of States require Holocaust education.  That’s a failing grade.

Next, we might want to know what kind of education about the Holocaust is taught.  Do we learn, for instance, that

the Holocaust was the largest genocide in history, but not the last one. More recent examples include the Khmer Rouge’s killing of about 2 million Cambodian dissidents between 1975 and 1979; the Hutu slaughter of about 800,000 mostly Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994; and the Sudanese government’s killing of 300,000 civilians in the Darfur region, beginning in 2003

Elaine Povich knows that.  It was beyond the time-frame and scope of her article to acknowledge that Washington State also passed legislation mandating Holocaust education.

The bill Washington State passed was promoted by the Holocaust Center for Remembrance.  Among the studies supporting the bill, as listed by the Holocaust Center for Remembrance website, is IHRA Research in Teaching and Learning about the Holocaust 2017.

I had previously come across this article from  2016, by Jonathan Ofr in Mondoweiss,  about Britain’s equating criticism of Israel with anti-Antisemitism, and the organization that pushed it.  The organization is the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance).  I believe that Teresa’s May accepting of their argument made it British law, in a way.

I don’t know the relation between the Center for Holocaust Remembrance is International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.  I know that the IHRA has a vague definition of anti-Semitism and conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

What happens when Holocaust education turns to the creation of Israel as a state?  Does the legislation mandating Holocaust education require discussing the indigenous Palestinians, the ethnic cleansing they face, and the broken promises that led to this ethnic cleansing?

What is a Holocaust and what isn’t?  Why do we learn about so few Holocausts?  And why are we trying to create another one?

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