Under curriculum revisions introduced in September 2014, the Holocaust remains a mandatory part of KS3 History teaching in England. Whilst only compulsory in English schools following the National Curriculum, we encourage all UK secondary schools to engage their History students in discussions about the Holocaust.
Relevant topics which might be taught through the History curriculum include:
- Challenging the common assumption that all Germans either supported the Nazis or were willing 'bystanders' to their crimes by exploring instances of German opposition to Nazism.
- Reflection on the richness and diversity of Jewish life in Europe before 1939.
- The impact of anti-Jewish laws in Germany.
- Focus on non-Jewish victims.
- The role of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust.
- British responses to the Holocaust.
- Discussion of the issues and challenges that survivors faced at the end of the war, including life in Displaced Persons Camps, repatriation and emigration.
- The role of sports and culture in post-war renewal, including the 1948 ‘Displaced Persons Olympiad’.
The new national curriculum in England requires schools to teach religious education to all key stages. When teaching the Holocaust as part of the Religious Studies curriculum it is important to ensure that the event is not presented as the defining feature of the Jewish people, or as an act of religious as opposed to racial intolerance.
Relevant topics which might be taught through the Religious Studies curriculum include:
- Reactions to suffering and faith after the Holocaust for survivors as well as liberators.
- The experiences of non-Jewish victims.
- Exploring some of the complex moral and ethical dilemmas raised by the Holocaust and the challenges of employing terms such as 'perpetrator' and 'bystander'.
- The history and development of antisemitism.
- Holocaust Theology and the Problem of Evil.
- The motivations of rescuers and the complex issue of rescue.
Citizenship and PSHE
Within the Citizenship/PSHE curricula teachers are encouraged to explore the development of human rights and international law, as well as to analyse the role played by voluntary groups within UK and international society. Students should also learn about the diversity of national, regional, religious and ethnic identities in the UK.
Relevant topics which might be taught through the Citizenship curriculum include:
- The role of voluntary societies in lobbying for pre and post-war Jewish immigration, including focus on the part played by Jewish and Quaker groups in lobbying for the Kindertransport.
- The work of non-governmental organisations and the new United Nations in post-war relief efforts, including relief work following liberation and in the Displaced Persons Camps.
- Discussion of the motivations of non-Jewish rescuers and the complex issue of rescue.
- Exploration of the post-war world including liberation and post-war emigration to Britain.
- The role of the British media in the liberation of Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp.
- International responses to the Holocaust including the development of refugee and human rights.
- Questions of justice after the Holocaust.
English teachers from KS2 onwards are encouraged to introduce a range of texts into their classrooms, and to engage their students in formal presentations, discussions and debates. Whilst poetry might be more appropriate for integration into the primary curriculum, there are a range of age-appropriate full texts which can be included from KS3 upwards.
Relevant topics which might be taught through the English curriculum include:
- Discussion of how memories of the Kindertransport are transmitted through poetry.
- The role of poetry and song in the ghettos.
- Exploring the stories of individuals, including those who experienced hiding (Anne Frank), rescue (Eva Hayman) and life in the camps (Elie Wiesel).
- The Holocaust in post-war fiction.
Discussion of the Holocaust can be integrated into creative arts subjects including Music, Art and Drama.
Relevant topics which might be taught through the creative arts include:
- The role of music and theatre after liberation as tools for recording the Holocaust and as therapeutic forms of cultural renewal.
- Graphic novels and Holocaust memory.