Today is Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK, a time to ‘remember those who were murdered for who they were’. The theme for 2022 is ‘One Day’, which provides an open interpretation: one day from history, one day in which life changed, or one day in the future when persecution is overcome.
A couple of years ago – back in 2020 – I posted my thoughts on the hurdles in attempting to adequately and accurately cover Holocaust Memorial Day in the form of a short 1 hour long tutorial session. I outlined how I had approached it in various ways over the years, without fully feeling confident that it made a full impact. This feeling is compounded by how I spend a few months covering the Holocaust in the History A-level module that I teach; such a significant period in history needs a significant amount of time in which to do the past justice.
However, it is clear that even one tutorial session of 1 hour is preferable to nothing. This was particularly impressed on me having read an article in The Guardian back in November 2021. The article noted how half of British people didn’t know that 6 million Jewish people were killed during the Holocaust, and how 57% believed that people didn’t care as much about the Holocaust as they once did. This seeming rise of ignorance is coupled with the dangerous rise of false news, particularly the rearing of the ugly head of Holocaust deniers. As such, any coverage of the Holocaust would be helpful in combating such views or lack of knowledge.
I had been considering the most effective way to approach this year’s Memorial Day, and the usual concerns popped up regarding how to fit it all into one session. A fellow staff member in my college had asked for my students to prepare a 1 minute Tik-Tok video to help explain the Holocaust, but I struggled to see the value in this due to the nature of the delivery and the very condensenced time available. Furthermore, a lack of spare time – due to teaching, preparing lessons, marking lots of work, and the other heap of additional admin tasks – meant that I didn’t have the head-space to consider a viable way forward.
But it was at this point where help was provided.
A fellow History teacher at the college prepared a comprehensive PowerPoint covering the Holocaust: definitions, historical context, and usual videos. This was exactly what was needed – an overview to help the students understand. (Thankfully this teacher – Katie – is a new teacher, and therefore is able to see things more clearly, rather than myself, a more disgruntled teacher who has become set in his ways!)
Of course, the content was hard-going for some of our A-level students. But the whole point in the tutorial session was to attempt to eradicate ignorance or apathy, particularly in regard to the earlier mentioned Guardian article. And so, it would appear that I have become settled in how to approach Holocaust Memorial Day in the future. Hopefully our college will do its bit to help to spread awareness in the years to come.