Teaching the Holocaust by Inquiry: Develop Upstanders Rather Than Bystanders | Joel Backon | 6 Min Read

January 26, 2023

Teaching the Holocaust by Inquiry, Elizabeth Krasemann, Foreword by Michael Berenbaum. LIT Verlag GmbH & Co., Zurich, 2022.

These are fascinating times to teach students about the Holocaust. Some would argue that it is an ideal time since many schools are focused on DEI+, and this tragedy during World War II certainly qualifies as one of the more serious violations of social justice and ethnic equity in modern history. Alternatively, we live in a world of increasing antisemitism and an identity culture in which each disadvantaged group feels it deserves the designation, “most mistreated.” From that perspective, the Holocaust shares the stage with numerous other genocides including Darfur, Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Nanking, Ukraine, Armenia, Native Americans, and Black African slaves. Thus, there are more tragedies than we would like to admit. So why study the Holocaust?

Perhaps the answer is very simple: because it happened. One has to answer the question of how the Holocaust could possibly happen in the modern world. What is the tipping point at which strong prejudices push ordinary citizens into participating in the extermination of an entire ethnic group? What type of human depravity and evil motivates us to become accomplices…

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Joel Backon

Joel Backon has been the Editor of Intrepid Ed News since its inception in January 2021, responsible for all educator content on the website. He joined the OESIS Network, owner of Intrepid, in 2019 as Vice President. Joel spent much of his career at Choate Rosemary Hall (CT) where for 27 years he held founding roles in Information and Academic Technology, as well as being a classroom teacher, curriculum designer, coach, dorm head, and student adviser. Prior to Choate, Joel spent 15 years in the printing and publishing industry educating printers on how to maximize their strengths and minimize weaknesses. He has crusaded to achieve consensus on the question of why we educate kids in an effort to meet the learning needs of every student.