Twitter Explained | A Productive Thread About Holocaust Education

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I couldn’t have said it better myself at @Smarahplatt. I’m sure any proud member of Jewish Twitter felt similarly disheartened when they saw that both “Holocaust” and “Anne Frank” were trending before 9 a.m. 

Thankfully though, these trends had good (sort of) roots. At midnight on September 16, the Guardian published an article detailing a recent study by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) which found that young Americans are shockingly uneducated about the Holocaust and its details. According to the study, which surveyed adults between the ages of 18 and 39 (all millennials and gen-Zers please stand up), nearly two-thirds of young Americans did not know that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, and 48 percent of those surveyed could not name any of the concentration camps. 

The study quickly became news, both in the real world and on Twitter. Most tweeters were shocked, citing their own Holocaust education as a measurement against how far behind America has fallen with regards to Holocaust education. 

Some seemingly younger tweeters said they’re not surprised by the results, given the sub-par Holocaust education they received in their history classes. 

It became clear to many that the educational divide unsurprisingly fell along the line between Jewish and non-Jewish school education. Jewish tweeters, who say they can’t remember a time before they knew about the Holocaust, began asking their non-Jewish twitter friends when their awareness of the Holocaust began. 

And the survey proved true, at least in one specific instance, when an innocent tweeter received a mini Holocaust education lesson right in the replies. 

A German tweeter chimed in as well, offering some insight into how the other side educates their students about the horrific events. And it’s hard to have a conversation about dealing with historical crimes without discussing America’s ongoing struggle to reckon with slavery, Jim Crow and Native American history. 

All of these roads led to the question of how should American schools be educating their students about the Holocaust. The obvious answers were calls to push The Diary of Anne Frank, Elie Wiesel’s Night and other such books as required reading in History or English classes. 

But many disagree, arguing that those classic works minimize the magnitude of the Holocaust, don’t provide a complete historical picture and fail to contextualize it within the rise of modern anti-Semitism. 

All in all, a pretty productive conversation was had over Twitter, something all too rare at this point in 2020. But, unfortunately, it didn’t last long. 

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