Why we still need to teach young people about the Holocaust

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The inscription on the gate to the Auschwitz concentration camp (Poland): ‘Work makes you free’. shutterstock

Michael Richards, Edge Hill University; Dr. Anna Bussu, Edge Hill University, and Dr Peter Leadbetter, Edge Hill University

It has been more than 70 years since the Nazi-occupied Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated. Auschwitz was the most notorious of all the concentration camps – where it is believed that more than a million people were systematically exterminated via state systems of execution and torture.

Concentration camps were central to the Nazi ideology and
victims were mostly Jews, Gypsies, black people, gay people and people with intellectual disabilities.

But while most people have heard of the major concentration camps – Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Dachau, and Treblinka – these were not the only places Jews and other prisoners were held. Each of the 23 main camps had sub-camps – there were nearly 900 of them in total.

The horrors of Auschwitz and World War II led Western scholars and governments to become increasingly sensitive to the need to educate society about the dangers of exclusionary institutional structures and genocidal social policies. Which is why schools throughout Europe and beyond teach students about the Holocaust – and the associated moral and ethical issues.

The importance of Holocaust commemoration has also helped to create symbolic places and memorials – such as the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. This museum has an educational training centre with facilities to enrich the studies on the Holocaust. Other sites include the Jewish Museum in Prague and the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York.

History repeating?

Young people today are growing up at a time when support for right-wing politics is on the rise across Europe. With unemployment rife and the prospects of owning a home diminishing, right-wing groups offer an alternative way for disengaged young people to see the world. This is evidenced by a surge of numbers and support for far-right parties groups across Europe – including France, Sweden, The Netherlands and Austria.

In these countries, outsider parties have had large increases in support for their populist and controversial political campaigns. And while most of these parties have not achieved a full grip on power, it is a cause for concern that radical right-ring candidates are getting votes and being taken seriously.

France’s Marine Le Pen who plans to rebrand the National Front in an attempt to swing her party back to its anti-immigrant and anti-crime roots. Shutterstock

This is increasingly worrying given that direct intolerance of others is being advocated by powerful world leaders. Since Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 US presidential election, he has caused tensions among ethnic minority groups in the US and beyond.

Parallels between this growth of far-right parties can be seen in our recent history. And the political unrest, inequalities, lack of employment opportunities and fragmented societies – the sort of conditions that helped the Nazis get into power all those years ago – are alarmingly similar to the current situation in Europe.

Importance of remembering

It is therefore timely and important that young people continue to develop an understanding of the consequences of these ideologies and develop a moral compass. One way this can be done is by taking students to these historical sites and memorials to gain a full insight as to what it was like live through horrific events such as the Holocaust.

Our ongoing research suggests that by visiting emotional sites such as Auschwitz, it may help students to become more morally and socially aware of the consequences of exclusionary policies. And that it also helps to foster a sense of responsibility among young people – and assist in the development of their emotional and interpersonal life skills.

This is vitally important, because we have found that some university educated students have a real lack of knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust – and recent political events – despite having this information at their fingertips.

Educating for the future

In this way then, universities and schools have an obligation to educate and develop the moral and social awareness of young people. And there is a real need to preserve Holocaust sites such as Auschwitz for future generations to learn from.

Young people today are the future leaders of the world tomorrow – so it is vital that we ensure these atrocities of the Holocaust are not repeated. Especially given the diminishing numbers of survivors able to “tell their story”.

The ConversationThis is why young people need to be exposed to these historical events. And now is the time to promote tolerance and an understanding of others. Because otherwise, how else can they truly understand the potentially dire consequences of exclusion, division and lack of tolerance of others.

Michael Richards, Lecturer in Applied Health and Social Care, Edge Hill University; Dr. Anna Bussu, Lecturer in the Psychosocial Analysis of Offending Behaviour, Faculty of Health and Social Care, Edge Hill University, and Dr Peter Leadbetter, Senior Lecturer in Applied Health & Social Care, Edge Hill University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Five top tips for an outstanding UCAS form

Sarah Wright, Edge Hill University

As the final UCAS deadline looms in mid-January, it’s understandable to worry that you don’t have time to complete a quality application that will bag you that place on the course of your dreams. But fear not, because here are some tips for putting together a successful, stand out application.

1. Check your own understanding

Hopefully, you have done your background work on your course by attending open days, reading blogs and poring over prospectuses. But even if this is the case, do you really understand the course you are applying for?

Go back through the UCAS entry profile and double check that the course you have selected meets your needs and does what you think it does. Students who have misconceptions about the content of a course often reflect this in their application which does not make for a good start.

2. Get the fine tooth comb out

No eye rolling, I know you have probably been told this a million times, and I’m going to say it again … this document could effectively change your life – and proof reading and drafting is essential.

Ensure you check everything on your form, from your personal details to your course code, everything needs to be perfect. Admissions tutors will be eagle eyed when it comes to grammatical and spelling errors, so check it once, check it twice, and then check it again.

Your university application may well open doors for you, so make sure it’s perfect. Pexels

3. Make up your mind

Your personal statement is the most substantial aspect of your application. This is where you really get to show your potential university who you are. It’s therefore essential that your statement does that, evidences you as a future scholar who oozes enthusiasm for their chosen subject and course.

The most crucial thing admissions tutors will look for in your personal statement is a strong rationale as to why you want a place on their course. If you’re applying to multiple institutions this can be a tricky ask. So this is why it’s best to keep your course choices consistent – because applying for four primary education courses and then an engineering degree isn’t going to make things easy for you.

4. Make it personal

The personal statement should also do what it says on the tin – it should be personal to you. This is your opportunity to shine in terms of talking about your academic and personal achievements. It can be easy to fall into lazy language when you’re doing this. If admissions tutors had a pound for every time they read the word “passion” in a personal statement, they’d probably be living on a tropical island by now.

Draw on all your experience to make your application as unique as you are. Pexels.

Put the effort into your explanation. Talk concisely about your achievements, then show the impact they have had on you. So, rather than “I am a passionate member of the local outdoor pursuits club”, try “being a member of the local outdoor pursuits club has helped me hone my leadership, problem solving and collaboration skills”. See the difference?

Work hard with your language. You want to grab the attention of your reader and avoiding generic statements such as “I have always had a passion for …” is your first step in doing that. You should also talk about specific aspects of a subject that fuel your interest, and the more you can evidence this, the better chance of acceptance you have.

5. Two pairs of eyes

Your application should now be a glowing reflection of who you are and your hopes and ambitions for your academic career. This can make some people reluctant to share it with even their closest family and friends. But unfortunately, this is a must.

Make your application into a family affair – a second pair of eyes is important. Pexels.

Think how many times you check a social media update before you post it to the world, this is a million times more important. Do you really want to hit submit before having it checked? Have at least one other person read over your application, they could pick up on a missed word, incorrect spelling or fantastic achievement you have overlooked. The more input you can get the better, so if you’re up for sharing get as many people as you can to take a look at your final draft before you submit it.

The Conversation

Sarah Wright, Senior Lecturer in Education, Edge Hill University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.