Orlando Sentinel: Florida students must learn undiluted truth about Holocaust | Commentary


Florida recently became the 19th state to mandate Holocaust education. The educational standards that will become the curriculum will be finalized this week. This is important and must be praised. However, if the curriculum does not properly define the Holocaust and instead chooses to universalize the Nazi’s War on the Jews, this will all be in vain. Holocaust education must not be placed on the altar of critical race theory or used as a mere tool to teach the perils of xenophobia.

The term Holocaust does not refer to every evil perpetrated by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945. It is, in German, die Judenvernichtung or “annihilation of the Jews,” the Final Solution to the Jewish question, not the gypsy question, the Communist question, the handicapped question or the homosexual question. The Nazis called it “the War against the Jews.” Hitler referred to it as “a war of extermination.”

The aim, as stated at the Wannsee Conference in 1942, was to render first Europe (and then the world) Judenrein, purified of the Jews. There is no comparable word attached to the other groups.

Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg identified the contagion that the Jews carry in their impure blood as Judaism, which impels them to “think Talmudically,” whether they are religious or not. The “other groups” have no comparable Torah or Talmud that was targeted for annihilation. This was Elie Wiesel’s point when he declared that “not all the victims were Jews, but all the Jews were victims.”

The universalization of the Holocaust downgrades it as a tool to teach about racism and xenophobia. This is part of the phenomenon that Alvin Rosenfeld, an Indiana University professor who has written extensively about the Holocaust, deems “the end of the Holocaust. The Holocaust is coming to an end because many of us want it to come to an end. We want it to be over with, or at least to diminish it. The effort to relativize, de-Judaize, and thus trivialize the event can be found in its incorporation into various agendas that go under the heading of tolerance, social justice, and anti-bullying.”

Undiluted Holocaust education should be mandatory in all states. However, we must not allow the same people who seek to universalize it to write the curriculum. Students must be grounded in what Judaism is, what it represents and why the Nazis’ war on the Jew was unique in its implications for all humanity.

Laurie Cardoza-Moore is the President of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, which advocates in support of Jews and Israel. She was formerly a member of Florida’s Department of Education BEST Standards Civics Textbooks Review Board. David Paterson teaches Holocaust Studies in the University of Texas at Dallas. He is a member of the PJTN taskforce that submitted K-12 Holocaust Educational Standards to the Florida Department of Education.

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