Germany’s Education System and The Holocaust

A volunteer with Holocaust survivors

Since the 1990s, German authorities have accepted and implemented several ways to commemorate the Jewish victims of the Holocaust: the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, the Stolperstein block signs, The Library monument, the Jewish museum in Berlin, Dechau, Buchenwald and many more. These spots have become popular tourist attractions, reminding others of the past. German schools take students to these sites to educate them about the atrocities committed years prior.

German students confirm that they first heard the term “Holocaust” between the ages 9-12. The subject is taught regularly starting in the fifth grade and is reviewed each year. A well-known approach is through individual stories, such as Anne Frank’s. The message becomes easier to grasp and less overwhelming.

From childhood through graduation, the Second World War is well integrated into the German educational curriculum. Due to the age gap among youth today, many feel distanced and disconnect from their grandparents’ generation. These often provoke negative feelings among youth, who are taught that Jews are normal people just like themselves, and are encouraged to accept all people regardless of race.

In order to compensate these negative feelings, many youth find consultation in volunteering mainly with refugees. Native Germans are allowed to volunteer in the nearest refugee center and offer to tutor refugees or donate money, food or clothes. Andy, 24  a volunteer from Koblenz, says he tries to integrate immigrants as much as possible into society, and encourages going to historical sites, watching movies or discussing with immigrants Germany’s role in the Holocaust. This spurs several Muslim youth to hold positive views about government.

Another initiative is a project called The Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP). This organization sends German youth to Israel and other countries to volunteer with Holocaust survivors. The project has been running since 1958 in countries that were harmed by the Nazis, with more than 1500 volunteers in Israel throughout the years. Feedback is positive as many Holocaust survivors treasure the opportunity to talk with someone in their mother tongue and often tell the young volunteers things that they never told their families. The survivors who great appreciation for the program and find it feels like home to many.

Source: Ynet

Image: ARSP

By: Roni Zedek

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