Monday, April 15, 2024 – Teaching Genocide: Holocaust Education and its Implications

Time: 4:30-5:30 p.m.
RSVP: By Wednesday, April 10 to Space is limited. More information will be sent once we receive your RSVP.

In the 1960s, West-Germany saw large-scale student protests to change the education curriculum. At that time, the country and particularly the judiciary was still largely run, and many but the most egregious crimes of the Holocaust were ignored even under the occupation of the Allied Forces. The students’ activism confronted their parents’ avoidance and led to an entirely new German approach to the history of the Holocaust. As a result, a new critical curriculum was created that persists until today.

It is difficult for countries to carry a generational burden of genocide. Education often struggles with these issues in classrooms as they may contradict patriotic beliefs and undermine loyalty to the country. How can a perpetrator state educate its citizens on the inheritance of crimes? In Germany educational mechanisms that the student protesters fought for in the 1960s are still in place and have continually been adapted. For a country like the U.S. with a history rooted in indigenous genocide and slavery that has been disregarded for centuries, it should be interesting to compare its teaching of the Holocaust with its teaching of other genocides before the background of the German approach. While certainly different across the individual states, the American education system has overall lacked acceptance and analysis of the major crimes of American history. Inspiration for change may be discovered in other educational systems, in order to create a self-reflected nation whose citizens are able to recognize patterns and prevent future crimes.

This salon will explore the differences between Germany and the US in their approaches to the teaching of the Holocaust and other genocides. Participants will discuss the difficulties of teaching such difficult topics specifically in a K-12 school setting, and the implications of the differences in teaching methodologies. The discussion will be facilitated by Isa Mester ’26 and Prof. Antje Pfannkuchen and is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues.

Space is limited! Please RSVP to by April 10th. Light snacks and drinks will be provided.

Prior to the conversation, be sure to look over the following materials in the order provided:

 Required: (The readings will be sent to you when you RSVP)

 Chapter 1 – Neiman, S. (2019). Learning from the Germans: race and the memory of evil (First edition.). Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Smith, Clint. Monuments to the Unthinkable. The Atlantic. December Issue 2022.

Johnson, A. P., & Pennington, L. (2018). Teaching “Other” Genocides: Exploring the Intersection of Global Education and Genocide Studies. Social Studies (Philadelphia, Pa : 1934)109(5), 227–237.


 YouTube video “How Do German Schools Teach About WWII?” Today I found Out, July 26, 2020: