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*wakes up to both Anne Frank and Holocaust trending*
me: ah, so it’s going to be one of *those* days
— sarah (@Smarahsplatt) September 16, 2020
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.
Did you guys read the diary of Anne frank in HS? I read it in sophomore year. I don’t think I’m that old, but is it no longer required reading? https://t.co/uTDnYoFMrO
— Liam McEvoy (@looksbyliam) September 16, 2020
Isn’t “The Diary of Anne Frank” still required reading?
I read it in elementary school. My kids did, too, but that was 15 years ago.
Of adults 18-39, 23% said they believed the Holocaust was a myth, had been exaggerated or they weren’t surehttps://t.co/lchQcPvq49
— Holly Figueroa O’Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) September 16, 2020
The diary of Anne frank and Night were both required reading in middle school/high school so idk how ppl don’t know the holocaust… especially with all the hitler jokes I’ve seen on the internet 💀 https://t.co/173ZBKHcao
— elle⁷ NAMKOOK MONTH (@UGHVH0PE) September 16, 2020
My grandma was a Holocaust survivor. When I was in grade school, she would come into my school and tell her story to my classmates. Unfortunately she’s no longer alive to tell her story. So it’s so important we use the writing of Anne Frank and others to keep their story alive.
— Daniel Pants (@DanielPantss) September 16, 2020
Some seemingly younger tweeters said they’re not surprised by the results, given the sub-par Holocaust education they received in their history classes.
In high school the only reason we went over the holocaust for more than one day is bc our history teacher got fired (sex with student ofc) and his replacement was a GERMAN WOMAN who would not stand for it https://t.co/bOTs0nKXs9
— JESUS CHRIST (@elijahwitt) September 16, 2020
none of what i learned about the Holocaust was in school. it was my own research after my dad, a public school teacher himself, first brought home a book about anne frank from the school library when i was a kid.
the american education system is garbage. https://t.co/a8SxNtJ2xm
— j(enna) (@stevierosebudds) September 16, 2020
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.
Genuinely curious bc I’m Jewish so I grew up with this education from a young age:
What age were you taught about the Holocaust, and was it in school? https://t.co/ysoM017TDK
— maggie tokuda-hall 🧜🏽♀️🧙🏽♀️🌊 (@emteehall) September 16, 2020
I went to Jewish schools preschool-12th grade so I’m curious:
If you went to any kind of non-Jewish private or public school, did you learn about the Holocaust?
And if so, how much time approximately did you spend learning about it?
— Gabrielle (@gfstarr1) September 16, 2020
Learned about it first reading Anne Frank in 8th grade, then took an elective in-depth course as a senior. I wish it would have been a required class. It changed my life. I couldn’t believe then that there were Holocaust deniers, and it breaks my heart that it’s still happening. https://t.co/1sUPpgJwsN
— Manda (@amandapanda_94) September 16, 2020
I was not taught about the Holocaust until middle school, but I first learned about it around 7. I was a precocious reader.
My first encounter was during a reading assessment in 2nd.
We didn’t finish the test that day because I had questions. I got sent home with books.
— CZEdwards (@ 🏠, with 🧰) (@CZEdwards) September 16, 2020
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.
Hang on, 6 MILLION??
— Rebecca🦄🌈 (@SeaAndLight) September 16, 2020
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.
I‘m German and went to German schools in the 80s and 90s. We learned extensively about our past and especially the Holocaust. Back then it was a given to visit a concentration camp and talk to survivors.
— Nathalie Alexander (@NatPersonally) September 16, 2020
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.
If you don’t know about The Holocaust, read “Anne Frank”, and for movies, “Schindler’s List”, “Sophie’s Choice”, many more books and films. pic.twitter.com/H75BP8JH8Z
— Jason Bourne (@TheOriginalWTH) September 16, 2020
Schindler‘s List would be good for viewing, but my concern is that they should be doing more READING. Not just Anne Frank’s book either…
1. Jacob‘s Rescue
2. The Story of Blima
3. Hana‘s Suitcase
4. The Boy Who Dared
5. The Cage
All great YA books about the Holocaust.
— CovidCancerNightmare (@CancerCovid) September 16, 2020
The lack of Holocaust knowledge in the U.S. is shameful. The following books can help change that and should be required reading in schools.
The Diary of Anne Frank
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
The Death of Democracy
The Years of Extermination pic.twitter.com/5w7VAuF1dN
— Mathew Foresta (@ForestaWriter) September 16, 2020
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.
reading the Diary of Anne Frank does not mean you are educated on the Holocaust.
schools should teach about the rise of antisemitism in Europe, the full timeline of the Holocaust, and visit a Holocaust museum instead of reading one book and calling it a day.
— talia wants תשפ״א NOW (@taliathejew) September 16, 2020
“we had great holocaust education at my school!”
– knows who hitler is
– can name anne frank and elie wiesel
– american propaganda
– pretends anti-jewish sentiment in nazi germany came out of nowhere rather than out of centuries of european antisemitism
— edo i guess ✡️ (@EdontB) September 16, 2020
I think it’s great that educators are thinking seriously about educating young people about the Holocaust. I do not think that the Diary of Anne Frank is the best way to do so. This is why (written in 2014): https://t.co/5Vd9sMbcxA
— HISTORICITY (was already taken) (@HISTORICITYwat) September 16, 2020
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.
american jews and george soros have entered the chat pic.twitter.com/CTeWUgu3Nq
— sarah (@Smarahsplatt) September 16, 2020