These guidelines are intended as a supplement to already existing pedagogical guidelines for Holocaust education (by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, for example). These guidelines focus on how to frame appropriately and teach about the many victims groups persecuted by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.
1. Avoid false universalism
The Nazis and their collaborators persecuted different groups of people for different reasons and in different ways. For example, while the Nazis saw Jews, Roma and Sinti as incurable and sought to murder them systematically, the regime saw homosexual men as curable and sought to "re-educate" them through hard-labor.
2. Draw attention to interdependencies
Each victim narrative relies on other narratives to be understood. For example, if we don't study how the Nazi regime developed gas chambers to murder people with mental and physical disabilities, we will not fully understand how they later came to gas people of Jewish, Roma and Sinti descent. Furthermore, the victims of Nazism did not suffer in isolation of one another. For example, the Nazis forced Jews, Roma and Sinti into the same ghettos, onto the same trains and into the same camps. And as Simon Wiesenthal reminded us, the different victims of Nazism "share common graves."
3. Connect Holocaust history to persecution today
In order to commit genocide, the Nazi regime relied on many already-existing forms of prejudice against different groups and communities. After the Holocaust, prejudice and discrimination did not disappear. Many of the same communities that suffered under Nazism continue to face government-sanctioned oppression and violence.
4. Avoid Nazi definitions and terminology
Avoid using Nazi terms to define victim groups. For example, 'Gypsy' is widely considered to be a derogatory term for people of Roma or Sinti descent. This idea can be applied to many victim groups; the Nazis often forced individuals into categories with which they did not identify. For example, not all people who were considered Jews under the Nazi race laws identified as Jewish.
5. Address marginalization of memory
Help learners explore how and why certain victim groups became marginalized within Holocaust history and commemoration. In addition, help learners see that historians and scholars continue to debate whom should be considered victims of the Holocaust.
6. Avoid competitive victimhood
While we should highlight the commonalities and differences between victim narratives, we must avoid perpetuating harmful hierarchies of victimhood and impossible comparisons of pain.
7. Consider learners' identities and experiences
When studying the Nazis' multiple targets, some learners may identify with particular groups and communities. In addition, some learners have experienced and/or witnessed discrimination and violence. At the same time, while it is crucial that we help learners understand the relevance of history, we must help learners avoid over-identification which can act as a barrier to critical thinking.
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