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Opinion: Why teaching the horrors of the Holocaust is vital

April 8, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 42.8%. 1 min read.

27 January 2020, Saxony-Anhalt, Magdeburg: Wreaths lie at the Magda memorial. On Holocaust Memorial Day, the victims of National Socialism are remembered worldwide. On January 27, 1945, Soviet soldiers liberated the survivors of the Auschwitz extermination camp. The camp is symbolic of the Nazi genocide of millions of people. Since 1996, at the suggestion of the then Federal President Herzog, the victims have been commemorated on this day in Germany. Photo: Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert/dpa-Zentralbild/ZB (Photo by Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Thursday is Holocaust Remembrance Day -- yet even as we seek to commemorate the 6 million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, the truth is that too many people across the US don't know about or understand the horrors of this painful history, writes Roger Brooks.

(CNN)Thursday is Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day -- a time when our country joins others around the world to commemorate and to mourn the 6 million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.

Yet even as we seek to remember, the truth is that too many people across the United States don't know about or understand the horrors -- and the lasting legacies -- of genocides like the Holocaust.

A 2020 study by the Pew Research Center found that more than half of Americans don't know that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

About a third of Americans can't identify the decades when the Holocaust occurred.

We have an urgent obligation to address the lack of knowledge of the Holocaust -- and the ongoing problem of anti-Semitism.

Seventeen states already require students in public schools to learn about the Holocaust.

Through exposure to the horrors of this history, students can better shape their own identities in a period of their lives when moral understanding is most acutely developed.

The truth is that education of ugly history isn't just about the information students learn, it's also about how they learn it, and what they choose to do with it beyond the classroom.

Through case studies of historical moments like the Holocaust, the organization I lead, Facing History and Ourselves, works with teachers to support the development of key competencies for students: critical thinking, moral reflection, social emotional learning, and civic education.

These anti-Semitic incidents shocked their communities, but they also represent the dangerous reality of ignoring the work of Holocaust education.

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