| |

SIDIC Periodical XXII - 1989/1-2
Fiftieth Anniversary of Kristallnacht (Pages 23 - 35)

Other articles from this issue | Version in English | Version in French

Reports from around the world - The Shoah in Education and Commemorating the Shoah in Public Prayer
Different Authors



The subject of the Shoah in Australia is gaining increasing public interest, particularly in 1988, as the Federal Government is contemplating legislation which will enable Australia to prosecute Nazi War criminals living here. Partly because of this and partly because of general increased exposure to the subject matter in the media, including release of overseas films and television specials, teachers are becoming far more aware of the place of the Holocaust in modem European history and are expressing strong interest in including this subject in their syllabi. To date, very little progress has been made at tertiary level, insofar as Holocaust education is concerned. Victoria is the only state in Australia which offers courses specifically on the Holocaust — and these are taught as units within such courses as Racism, Politics of Genocide, Modern European History, and, at one College, within the parameters of a Jewish History course.

Macquarie University in New South Wales is currently piloting one such course also, for which they have 25 students enrolled. Overall, the subject of the Holocaust (which is the common term used for the Shoal/ in Australia: the term Shoah is starting to gain recognition only now, after Lanzmann's film of the same name) is not well known at tertiary level. By contrast, there is considerable growing interest at high school level in teaching the lessons of the Holocaust. The state of Victoria is the forerunner and at the forefront of initiatives in Holocaust education, closely followed by New South Wales. These two states have the largest Jewish communities and are also the most ethnically "aware generally, since their population composition is very multicultural. The New South Wales Board of Education, in conjunction with the Jewish Board of Deputies in that state has produced a kit for teachers and students intended to be used in all humanities' disciplines at senior high school levels. That kit is available for purchase throughout Australia: to date over 100 kits have been sold. The Executive Council of Australian Jewry is currently preparing a kit on the Holocaust to coincide with the commemoration of Kristallnacht. In Victoria, the Jewish Holocaust Centre has published a kit based on an oralhistory project undertaken by senior high school students and Holocaust survivors working together, and is currently preparing a second resources package. The Holocaust is part of the high school curriculum at all Jewish day schools in Victoria and New South Wales (and in Victoria, it is also taught in upper elementary schools). In the other states — A.C.T., South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland, Northern Territory — Holocaust education within the Jewish community is limited to informal mention, generally within a Sunday school context, in connection with commemoration of Yom Hashoah, as these are very small Jewish communities with very few Holocaust survivors in those states.

The level of education about Holocaust in the general community reflects that described within the Jewish community. The only two states which have any reference to the Shoah, either informally or formally in their curricula, are New South Wales and Victoria. In some of the other states the subject may be mentioned in passing, in relation to Peace or Justice studies; but teachers and the communities they represent are largely ignorant about the Holocaust and the subject is not considered topical or even of particular importance. New South Wales and Victoria, however, present a slightly different picture. In both states, literature about and of the Holocaust is on compulsory curricula at senior secondary level for all students. The extent to which the background — i.e. the history of the Shoah is covered varies enormously. The Jewish Holocaust Centre and Museum in Melbourne (Victoria) has been very active in bringing an awareness to the general community. There are several in-service programs for teachers organized each year; an average of 10,000 high school students visit the Museum exhibition and hear a talk by a Holocaust survivor relating his/her personal experiences. This Centre also initiates projects that students can undertake on the subject, as well as providing archival resources for use. The Jewish Holocaust Centre is unique in Australia, although there are moves afoot to establish a similar institution in New South Wales. In addition to its permanent exhibit, the Centre also sends speakers out to schools to talk to students and is responsible for recruitment of teachers to attend the annual Winter course on Teaching the Holocaust and Anti’Semitism at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem

Other initiatives in Holocaust education in Victoria include the liaison between the Catholic and Jewish communities, reflected in the publication of Celebrate, Vol.7, N' 2, April 1988, on Judaism. This was the initiative of the sub-committee on Catholic-Jewish Relations. This committee organizes awareness -raising excursions for Catholic schools and students are also encouraged to visit Jewish Centres including a visit to the Holocaust Centre and Museum. Furthermore, the compulsory reading for students in their last year of English at high school in Victoria regularly includes Holocaust literature, usually of an autobiographical nature, similar to the requirements in New South Wales.

As for general education of the public, there was a travelling Holocaust exhibition set up in 1980 (by B'nai B'rith) which has been around Australia, including Tasmania during the past 8 years. The Great Synagogue in Sydney, N.S.W., put on a special exhibition about the Shoah in 1987 which was opened by a Minister of Parliament and was well attended by the general public. TheJune 1988 issue of Time magazine carried a cover story on the Holocaust, focusing on the public responses; and there has been some Australian documentary material relating to the Shoal, produced over the past 5 years. In general interest is growing, but it is still in its infancy.

The only public prayer of which we are aware is the annual Yom Hashoah Commemoration ceremony which all Australian Jewish Communities observe. We believe that there will be some synagogue services held for commemorating Kristallnacht this year also.

Jenny Wajserzhert – Chairperson, Education and Research Committee, Jewish Holocaust Centre and Museum, Melbourne
Rosalie Hanley – N.D.S., Centre for Jewish-Christian Relations, Kew, Melbourne.

Additions (submitted by the Sydney Team)
The Twelth Hour Project: It is realised that time is running out for recording the stories of survivors of the Shoal,. A group of trained volunteers are interviewing survivors, recording their accounts on tape which will be preserved in a special archive.

Holocaust Exhibition_ Great Synagogue_ For several months of this year an exhibition concerning the Holocaust Jewish visitors, it has been viewed by a large number of non-Jewish schools, some of them State and others private schools, but most of them Catholic schools. The exhibition has been dismantled temporarily, but is to be housed permanently when a special place is built for it on the present site of the B'nai B'rith building. University of New South Wales, German Studies Department: Since 1980 an elective has been offered to students on the History of Persecutions, including the destruction of European Jewry, 1933-1945.

The Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors held an international gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors in Sydney in May, 1985. A book is to be published this year to record outstanding academic presentations, social communications, photographic and media reproductions of events.


The number of initiatives to inform both children and adults about the Shoah have increased considerably during the past years, so that it is not possible to describe them all in detail.

1) In school-teaching
The new syllabus both for the teaching of history as also of catholic religion includes teaching on the Shoah and on Judaism. The text-book for the religious classes of the 12-year olds has a chapter on Judaism in which mention of the murder of the Jews is made. The book for the 15-year olds contains 2 pages on Anti-judaism including citations from the Journal of Anne Frank.
The educational authorities have supplied every secondary school with audio-visual material on the subject. This includes tapes, slides, posters and books. Besides that they encourage visits of school-classes to the concentration-camp of Mauthausen, where specially trained guides give the students explanations.

The official motto for the year 1988 also for schools was: "1938-1988". Many schools encouraged the students to research the past of their school, of the parishes within the school's precints etc. In the school where I teach, the last week of the school year was dedicated to this subject. The result was put together by the students in a brochure of about 50 pages. It included historical, political, artistic, literary, psychological and religious aspects.

2) Exhibitions
There were so many exhibitions on "1938" during the past months that it was impossible to visit them all:
– "The Church and National-socialism in documents" was shown in the Underground Station of St.Stephens Square in the centre of Vienna from 1st March to 15th April 1988.
– "Holy Community Vienna –Judaism in Vienna" in the Historical Museum of the City of Vienna from November 1987 to June 1988 showed Jewish Cult and the History of Vienna Jewry including the persecution of 1938-45.
– "The Burning of books in Germany 1933" was shown in the National Library from 9th March to 4th April 1988.
– "Vienna 1938" was shown in the Vienna City Hall from 16th March to 30th June 1988.
– "Youth under the Swastika", on Education and School underfascist rule, was shown in the room of the Vienna Board of Workers from 10th March to 30th April 1988.
Schools were encouraged to take classes to these exhibitions and many teachers did take advantage of these opportunities.

3) Conferences
Among the numerous conferences and symposia held in various places all over the country I would like to mention more particularly:
– The program of the Austrian Students Organisation from I I th to 24th March and from 7th to 27th November 1988 which offered and will offer a most rich program with prominent speakers.
- The Catholic Organisation of university graduates also organised a number of conferences and symposia both in Vienna and in the provinces. The title of the Vienna Symposia was: "Opposition to National's socialism out of christian responsibility".
– On the 12th June memorial tablets were unveiled at several sites in Vienna where synagogues had stood until 1938.

All this shows that great efforts have been made in the past years to inform on Judaism and the Shoah. Although there is still reluctance on the part of a number of Austrians to accept their role in the Shoah–which makes them avoid any confrontation with the subject – a greater number have become interested. Especially the younger teachers consider it as their duty to inform the future generations on the Shoah and on Judaism.
There is certainly still much to do. For the moment efforts are still too much concentrated in Vienna. It would be of greatest importance to mobilize those in the provinces who show interest and through the establishment of subsidiary associations unite those forces and give them the necessary support and counsel.

Before giving a survey of such commemorations, two preliminary remarks are necessary. Firstly: In general, prayer is not made public, especially not the content of prayer, it is therefore not easy to assess what really happens in this field. The second remark concerns the visit of the Pope to Austria in June 1988. There was disappointment on the Jewish side, that the Pope did not explicitly mention the Jewish martyrs of the Shoah. The explanation given was that he was speaking to Christians. This shows that for the Church the Jewish Martyrs of the Shoah do not have an intrinsic place in the prayer of the Church. The initiatives of various groups to commemorate the Shoah in prayer are therefore all the more valuable.

In the summer of 1986 the Katholische Aktion Osterreichs, shocked by the reappearance of anti-Semitism during the presidential election campaign, decided to take demonstrative steps toward a dialogue between Christians and Jews. One of these steps was an "Hour of Contemplation and Reconciliation" on October 12th 1986, the night before Yom Kippur. Leading figures of the Christian churches and the Jewish community participated in this religiously accented meeting: the Archbishop of Vienna, Dr. Hans Hermann Groer, representatives of the Protestant churches, Chief Rabbi Paul Chaim Eisenberg, as well as the President of the Jewish Community, Dr. Ivan Hacker, since deceased.

This initiative was continued the year after by a "Commemoration" on the 25th October 1987 with the witness of representatives who experienced that dark chapter of our history. This festive hour was terminated by Archbishop Groer, High Consistory Dietrich and Chief Rabbi Eisenberg reciting Psalm 33 together.

On the 13th March 1988 Austria commemorated the 50th anniversary of its so called AnschluB to Hitler-Germany. The first step towards this fateful historic act had been the resignation of the Prime Minister Schuschnigg on the 11th March 1938. At the initiative of the Katholische Aktion the whole of Austria, schools, transport etc. kept, on the morning of the 11th March 1988, a minute of silence, in which "the asking the former victims for forgiveness" was to be included.
That same evening the Austrian Bishops' Conference held a commemorative service in St.Stephen's Cathedral to the verse of Isaiah: "Peace to those afar —peace peace to those near", in which political representatives and members of other churches took part. On the 12th March Masses were celebrated in several churches for those who lost their lives fighting in the resistance.

On Sunday, the 13th March, there were commemorative services in several Austrian dioceses. In Vienna there was an ecumenical commemoration, a prayer "both for the victims and for the perpetrators" in the sense of the petition of the Our Father: "and forgive us our trespasses". This ecumenical prayer took place on the Morzinplatz, where the Gestapo had had its headquarters and where many had been imprisoned, tortured and killed, and it was followed by denominational services in Vienna Churches and in the Synagogue.

For the 9th November 1988 a commemorative service is planned in the Church of St.Leopold, which is built on the emplacement of a previous synagogue. The service is to be held by Cardinal Groer together with representatives of other Christian churches. The parishes are also going to be encouraged to hold commemorative services in their own churches.

Sr Hedwig Wahie, nds

Over the last forty years commissions and international conferences of Christians and Jews have multiplied texts, recommendations, guidelines, notes... Christians are invited on each occasion to examine their presentation of the Old Testament, the Jewishness of Jesus and the relations between a living Judaism and the Church. The quesiton of the Shoah is almost always brought up in these documents.

An inquiry into Belgian religious text-books still showed an almost complete absence of interest in Judaism, except here and there a witness lost in a crowd of others, or an untimely reference to the commitment of Martha and Mary. As a general rule Judaism is non-existent in these pages; the reader is given a predominantly Messianic interpretation of the Old Testament; Jesus is born a Jew, but the consequences arising from this fact are not clearly drawn; historical Judaism disappears rapidly in the development of the Church. The authors of these texts give generous space to their presentation of other religions, all that is except Judaism, which is not given the pride of place accorded to it in the official texts of the Church.

Questions concerning evil and suffering are to be found in almost all the tables of content, but concrete examples of the form they took in the Shoah are never mentioned.

On the other hand certain texts exist and some teachers do make use of them:
— Chretiens et Juifs en Belgique, 1985
— L' avolution des relations entre Chratiens et Juifs in Pro Mundi Vita 95-96, 1985
— Malinsky A., Esquisse dune initiation au Judaisme, Bruxelles 1981
— Werbrouk L., Uw rijk kome, Antwerpen 1976

We have also looked into the way the Shoah is dealt with in history text books. Most of them are very brief and offer little documentation. There is one exception: Lefevre J. and Georges J. Les temps contemporains, Toumai, 1983. It comprises 800 pages in two volumes. There is a clear presentation of religions, in wh ich religions of the book and Judaism are given a rightful place. There are also more numerous and varied documents on the Shoah. In Documents pádagogiques: La Belgique occupee, the Ministry of National Education and French culture offers a general introduction with texts and illustrated documents. It is a detailed presentation and the Shoah is well documented from a number of aspects. Finally – Dequeker L. Geschiedenis van hetJodendom en hetZionisme, Leuven 1982, and Steinberg M. La traque des Juifs, Bruxelles 1986.

In the synagogues at the Dossin barracks (Malines), at the cemetery of the executed and the Brussels Jewish Memorial, the commemoration of the Shoah and the anniversaries of the Deportation are serious occasions of prayer with the Kaddish, the roll-call of the camps and testimonies given by witnesses of the Shoah. Each year some thirty Christians join in these demonstrations and speeches are made by public figures. Annual visits to Auschwitz are organised, under the guidance of former deportees; some twenty non-Jewish school-leavers are invited to take part, so that the new generation do not forget what happened there.

As for Christian public prayer, it is rarely conducted with a sympathetic understanding of the events and celebrations of the Jewish community. Nevertheless a reunion of prayer in Brussels was notable in that it brought together eight hundred Christians from different Churches. "Vigil of Ecumenical Prayer: to remember our Jewish roots" (3.2.87).

Ten years ago the Protestants started a "Sunday for Israel"; it takes place during the Autumn. All the pastors are given an outline for a homily which takes into account the fundamental bond between the two communities.

The Evangelical Church has also adopted the custom of having public prayers on the date of Yom Kippur; this unites repentance, praise and intercession for peace in the Middle East.
We would like to close on an optimistic note. Authors have been amassing documentation and material for forty-five years. Better still, more and more Christians read this material and speak about it. The fact remains that the last Notes from the Holy See, however disappointing they may seem, are still far from being applied or even known! We hope that the question will be taken up on a wide scale.
M.H. Belleflamme, M.N. Fournier, nds


As far as is known there is no Chair, Lectureship or Research fellowship of Holocaust Studies in British Universities. However a Centre for Holocaust Studies is to be set up at Leicester University, a Fellowhsip inJewish-Christian Holocaust Theology is to be established at the Centre for the Study of Judaism and Jewish-Christian Relations at Selly Oak, Birmingham, and a visiting Fellowship in the Study and Teaching of the Holocaust will be established (when fund-raising is completed) at the Oxford Centre for Post-Graduate Hebrew Studies. Special Subject Courses on the Holocaust are taught at Leicester and Nottingham Universities.

In the public examination system (General Certificate of Secondary Education) there is a paper on the Holocaust. This has given rise to the preparation of new material and the organisation of seminars by various educational institutes.
The teaching of the Holocaust at other levels is left to private initiative. The subject is sometimes fitted into the History, the Social Studies and the Religious Education curricula. Some interesting projects have been set up. For example in the Spring of 1983 the Auschwitz Exhibition was held in a Church in Stepney, in Basildon and elsewhere. An educational pack and two videos were produced by the Inner London Education Authority entitled Auschwitz–Yesterday's racism. Though these have now been withdrawn efforts are being made to re-issue the pack. Other exhibitions have also toured the country like the Anne Frank International Exhibition. Seminars are also held in various cities for teachers and for Sixth Form students. Materials and Information are available from The Wiener Library, The Spiro Institute, The Jewish Programme Materials Project and the Centre for Jewish Education, Sternberg Centre for Judaism.

Church initiatives:
Church societies and other groups organise lectures on the subject but, as far as is known, there is no long term programme. An attempt was made in Manchester to organise a series of discussions for clergy but the numbers attending were small.

The Jewish Community:
It is considered important to teach the growing generation about the Holocaust. This brings with it problems for it is not a question of history but of something which conditions Jewish life today. Nevertheless these problems are taken very seriously. Most Jewish education programmes incorporate the teaching of the Holocaust. All Jewish Youth movements have Holocaust programming built into their educational frameworks. Several organise seminars which can include visits to Germany, Holland and Israel. The Scholars' Conference Remembering for the Future held in Oxford did something to raise awareness of the need to ensure that the Holocaust is included in school and university curricula. The Holocaust Educational Trust set up in 1988 has published a Directory of Hot ocaust Related Activity in Britain.

Yom ha-Shoah is generally observed by the Jewish communities in Britain. A memorial service is held at the Holocaust Memorial Garden in Hyde Park and also at Waltham Abbey Cemetery, Essex. The Association of Jewish Ex-Service Men organises an annual memorial service at the Prisoners' Memorial in London, jointly with the British Legion, for those who died in prisoner-of-war camps and concentration camps. AJEX is also involved in the organisation of an annual meeting to math the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

Among Christians Holocaust Memorial Services have not been frequent although some groups, especially local Councils of Christians and Jews have held such a Prayer Service. The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Kristallnacht was widely remembered and consciousness of the appropriateness of Christians commemorating the Holocaust in prayer has been awakened. The Westminster Diocesan Committee for Catholic-Jewish Relations held a twenty-four hour total fast on Holocaust Day 1988 which climaxed in a short prayer service in St. Charles Borromeo Church in Central London. They explained its purpose: "to show solidarity with the Jewish People and to express a spirit of repentance for Christian anti-semitism". Some religious communities also commemorated the Holocaust in their private chapels.

Mary Kelly, nds

In the educational field there is both serious reflectii and practical experimentation in ways of presenting tl Shoah to the young, and how to integrate this teaching in the school curriculum in the way best adapted to the a: and ability of the pupils. This is taking place especial among theJewish community (seeHamorC,N2s 88,94, 9 98, 99). Various problems are analysed, as well as tl pitfalls to avoid in order to:
— maintain the specifity of the Shoah,
— show that Jews were not simply passive in the face the catastrophe,
— respect the sensitivity of the young, etc.

There is also research going on among Christians to fin a way to speak of the Shoah in the educational setting above all in catechesis, and to sensitize young people t Jewish values and in respect for those who are differen: SIDIC-Paris organised a colloquium at Chantilly on thi subject in January/February 1987. It has recently produce' a study of catechetical initiatives between 1982-87, sho wing the progress that has been made and what still need. to be done. At present SIDIC is working in collaboratioi with the National Centre for Religious Education (cf. Sem 6-7/1987, p. 196). Cf. also bibliography in SIDIC Vol XXI:1 (1988) French edition, entitled "Some children'. books promoting brotherhood/sisterhood and peace.

At the level of national education a journey to Auschwitz was organised for more than a hundred-sixteen. seventeen year olds from sixty Parish schools, both public and private, accompanied by their history teachers. This journey took place in March 1988 at the invitation of the Committee of Information on the Shoah for Secondary schools (Av. des Champs Elysees 78, Paris). Cf. Hamore, 6P 122-123. More than any theoretical teaching, this interschool and inter-confessional activity, taking place at the actual scene of the drama, gave the young people a concrete, even moving experience of what the "final solution" actually was.

Commemorative liturgies do not exist in France. Only the Jews do something at the Jewish Memorial on the day of remembrance. Such manifestations have not yet been spoken of on the Christian side. In this France is way behind the United States and other Anglo-Saxon Countries.

Mireille Gilles, ads

(We publish two reports, one by a Protestant and one by a Catholic scholar)

Fifty years have passed since the night of the Jewish pogrom in Germany. This anniversary forces us to ask how we have learned to live with this date?

a) What does the Church do?
On the fortieth anniversary in 1978 Protestant Church leaders made their first official statement on this subject. Their people were reminded that the annihilation of the Jews in the Shoah was possible partly because of the silence of the Church. Combined with this reminder was an admonition to work against the increasing reappearance of anti-semitism and hostile acts against the Jews. The result was that many Church groups held memorial services, with confession of guilt as a high point. Lectures and seminars about the Jewish religion and Jewish history were also organized.

In 1988 the commemorative programs asked how far a new relationship between Christians and Jews had resulted from the efforts made towards conversion and renewal (cf. Pronouncement of the Protestant Church in the Rhineland, 15th January 1988). It is pointed out with more emphasis than in previous statements, that the guilt of the churches during the Nazi regime lay not only in their silence at that time, but also in the contempt with which they had spoken of Jews during the past centuries.

The origins and effects of Christian anti-semitism have now been more openly explored and made known to the church members. Since 1978 a number of workshops and church synods have tried to create a new attitude between Christians and Jews and with this intention have laid before the public new theses and resolutions. The aim of these documents is not simply that "Auschwitz must never happen again'', but to an increasing extent to speak in a responsible way about the Jews and with Jews, a way that combines a knowledge of Jewish tradition with commemoration, conversion and reconciliation, for the sake of a community life together in the future.

In many Protestant congregations commemorative services and seminars are held regularly on November 9th as they have been for some years. Often these services are ecumenical, reflecting the sad fact of a common Christian failure vis-a-vis the Jews. In this way the 9th of Novembercan become the means of remembering the victims of the Shoah and acknowledging Christian reponsibility for their death.

b) What the Schools do
Instruction about Jewish persecution belongs to the curriculum in the second level (grades 5-13), especially in the subjects of history and religion. But what the pupils learn depends on the teacher, on his or her knowledge and feeling of responsibility. The text-books show clearly how difficult it still is to treat this subject objectively, whether factually or emotionally, and there is considerable deficiency especially in presenting the causes of the Shoah. The history of Christian anti-semitism is seldom touched on. On the other hand there are some teachers everywhere in Germany for whom this subject has become so important that they go far beyond the requirements of school programmes. They organise study weeks and excursions to Jewish sites, seek contacts with former Jewish citizens of their home-towns, or study the history of their school in Nazi times. More and more local communities "suddenly" discover the ruins of destroyed synagogues when teachers with their groups begin to explore. Sometimes memorial tablets are erected as a result of such initiatives. Pupils who have participated in such projects often develop an increased sensitivity for everything connected with Jews and Judaism.

c) What should be done?
It would be desirable that, beyond the special commemorative celebrations of 1988 an "Israel Sunday" be designated each year, with a fixed liturgical framework, so that at least once a year the connection between Christian teaching and the Jewish persecutions would be remembered. In addition there should be frequent programs offering information about Judaism and Jewish life. Despite all efforts, the ignorance of church members is shocking and could well be perpetuated in the next generation. Though the organisations for Jewish-Christian co-operation are active in many places and have set up Brotherhood Weeks as a public framework for the commemoration of the Shoah, their influence in society at large is still minimal.

Dr. Ruth Kastning, D-5205 St. Augustin 3.

"We, the German people, have a particular responsibility vis-a-vis the State of Israel because of our special guilt towards the Jewish people in this century... Forfar too long we Christians have forgotten all that we owe to the Jewish people."' Statements like these referring to the centuries long persecution of Jews in Christian lands introduce a teaching unit "Jews and Christians".

It is mostly in text-books for religious instruction, on which Weiner Trutwin is a co-worker, that this subject is treated in detail, for example in the recently published Wege des Glaubens (Ways of Faith). The Chapter on "Christian-Jewish Hostility" is followed by one entitled "The Incomprehensible Catastrophe", in which we find the statement (among others) "The German Bishops ought to have condemned more clearly and definitely the inhuman racism... they did not do sobecause 'from the point of view of the Church the Jews as a group were considered to be of no interest' (Cardinal Bertran, 1933). In general the help given by Christians and the protest of the Pope were too weak and lacking in courage. This failure is partially explained by the many prejudices that already existed before the Nazi times and were perpetuated in preaching and teaching."( Neuausgabe des Gnterricht swenkes tOr Sekussaarstute Jhrgangssufen 7/8, Dusseldorf 1988, p.262 ff)

Among the text books on Church-history that of H. Gutschera and Thierfelder is outstanding in its thorough treatment of the Shoah. (Brennpunkte der Kirchengeschichte, Paderborn 1976, p.232.) Side by side with positive examples there are many other books which touch on the Shoah only marginally and which ignore any connection with Christian hostility to Judaism. Others adopt an attitude of self-defence in appropriating to the Catholic Church the actions of individuals such as Dr. Gertrud Luckner. For this reason, in our project Lemenprozess Christen Juden (Published by a Biemer and E.L. Ehrlich (Val. 4, 1 980 —4).) we have incorporated many texts concerning the attitude of the Church towards thepersecution of theJews during the Nazi regime in the school books we use. (Published by P. Fiedler/U. Reck QK-H.Minz, Freiburg 1984.)

As far as one can tell from the texts used in religious instruction, there are great differences in the way the Shoah is treated in Catholic religious teaching. The same would be true of adult education classes and groups. The most effective treatment exists when the priest and parish are interested in the subject and are in contact with a Council of Christians and Jews. Certain Catholic academies such as Aachen, under the direction of H.H. Henrix, treat thi theme continually.

The Central Committee forJewish-Christian Co-opera Lion adopted as an official statement of policy, thi declaration of the discussion group Jews and Christians "After fifty years how can we speak of guilt, suffering an' reconciliation?"6 In addition, on the occasion of the Fiftietl anniversary of the November pogrom of 1938 the firs common declaration of the West German, Berlin and Au. strian Bishops was published, under the title "Accepting the Burden of History".7 It acknowledges that the bishop) of that time were motivated by opportunism rather thar defending the elementary human rights of the Jews. All the consequences of such an admission for preaching anc teaching in the Church in Gennany have not yet been drawn, but there are already encouraging signs.

Peter Fiedler, Freiburg i. Br.

There are a number of Centres where information about the Shoah is available for teaching purposes:
a) Important documentation is to be found at the Anne Frank Foundation where there is a list of all the interesting educational and media initiatives on the Shoal, (Meer. Eja Kliphuis, Anne Frarzkstiehtirzg, Keizersgracht 192, 1016 DW Amsterdam)
A guided tour of the house of Anne Frank in Amsterdam is an excellent means of educating teachers.
b) Information is also available at the Church and Israel Office of the Reform Church of Leusden (Gereformeerde Kerken) and through Mrs. Irene van Zeijts of the Nederlandse Hervermde Raad of Briebergen.
c) A list of useful teaching materials has been drawn up by Dr. Ido Abrahm of the General Centre of Teaching Studies (Al gemeerz Pedagogisch Studieeentrum, Amsterdam)
d) Information has been collected by Dr. Marcel Poorthuis and is available at the Catholic Council for Israel (K atholieke Raad voor Israel) in Utrecht.
(This short report does not do justice to all the work that is being done in the Netherlands).

Marie-Helene Fournier, nds
Maria Swings, ;cis

Latin America

An Institute for Holocaust Studies (instituto Argentina para Estudios) has been set up in Buenos Aires. One of the initiators is Professor Abraham Huberman. Among Christians efforts are made to inform and to sensitize people about the Shoah. Discussions after films on the subject take place and there are contacts with survivors from the camps.

The booklet From Death to Hope: Liturgical Reflections on the Holocaust, by Eugene J. Fisher and Leon Klenicki, has been translated into Spanish but has not yet been used. The ground is not sufficiently prepared for this initiative. Argentina has suffered from the so-called "dirty war in which many loved ones died or disappeared. These wounds must first be allowed to heal, or a way found to link them to the sufferings of the Jewish people. For the present this is all that can be done.

Sr Margarida Lopez Ferraz

Each year the Jewish community in Brazil commemorates all those who were murdered during the second world war. In S. Paulo the Shoah is recalled in a ceremony at the Jewish cemetery; there is a place there specially devoted to this purpose; the pupils from the Jewish schools are brought by bus so that, by taking part in the discourses and prayers, they may remember what happened. These occasions are organised by survivors of the concentration camps group in the Shearit Hapleita.

This year not only were the usual lessons and conferences given in the Jewish schools, but the young people took part in a solemn act which highlighted the forty-fifth anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto. A young orthodox group (Mei Akive) produced a play accompanied by the choir from a Jewish school (Renascence). This took place at the theatre "A Hebraica".
The examples just given are annual occurences. This year however, when we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Kristallnacht, there are still more activities. I will take a look at a few new ones, new especially in that they touch a wider community than the Jewish one.

Events for the general public:
In the S. Paulo cultural centre there were ten days devoted to films and an exhibition on the Shook having obtained the support of the Town Council through its cultural secretary, the Federation and Confederation (Jewish organisations) and the Goethe Cultural Institute (a German organisation), the organisers (Shearit Hapleita) tried to show the general public what the Shoah had been like. They advertised widely through posters, pamphlets, etc. and there was quite a good attendance.

A TV programme called Mosaic°, with a viewing public of about 250,000 (two-thirds non-Jewish) devoted one session to Kristallnacht, with the participation of a priest, a protestant minister and a rabbi.

The Press published serious and respectful articles on the subject of Kristallnacht.

The Council of the Christian-Jewish Fraternity took the initiative of publishing a booklet with the title Cada vida e nesse vida (Every life is our life). It was by way of being guidelines for a ceremony commemorating the victims of the Holocuast with selected texts and songs.

A day of recollection for religious was held at the Rogate Centre and on that occasion this booklet was used by the novices of the Congregation of the Sisters of Sion during a celebration. During the day the rise of Nazism was analysed from different points of view with the help of survivors. As a result of this day of recollection schools run by religious held similar celebrations; a priest had the booklet read during Mass and the text was given to charitable groups like the Lions and the Rotary Club. The subject was explained in the course of two meetings for priests (Setor Se and Pinheiros). Other provincial capitals also received this booklet (Belo Horizonte, Rio deJaneiro, Curitiba and Aracaju). The schools of the Congregation of Sion disseminated it and it was used as the starting point for lessons and discussions. Protestant groups were given the booklet for distribution but there is no information as to whether it was used. The Lutheran Church published a declaration by Dr. Martin Kruse and Dr. Werner Leich, in accord with the German Evangelical Churches of D.D.R.

Events for a Jewish public
Special religious services have been held in the liberal synagogues because here the congregations are composed mainly of Central European immigrants and their descendants, for whom Kristallnacht has bitter connections and memories. The rest of the Jewish community attended a service in the Bethel synagogue. Two thirds of the synagogues in S. Paulo kept their lights burning during the whole night on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, but this did not achieve its purpose because the general public had not been made aware of its significance and thus did not understand the gesture.

B'neiB' rith (the Institute concerned with human rights) held a reception (very well attended) on 9.11.88, during which Mme Aracy Carvalho Guimardes Rosa was honoured; she had been responsible for the passport section of the Brazilian Embassy in Hamburg and did much to help Jewish immigrants. At Porto Alegre, S. Paulo and Rio de Janeiro a "forum" was organised by three important associations (Marc Chagall Institute, C.I.P. and A.R.I.), on the theme of "The problem presented by Germany". The same programme was repeated on two or three evenings in the three towns, each the capital of a Province, and included speakers from Germany.

Final observations
This report concerns activities taking place chiefly in S. Paulo, particularly to draw attention to the fiftieth anniversary of Kristallnacht, it needs to be completed by the following observations:
1) In contrast to a Europe which lived the war on its own territory, Brazil has a population which scarcely knows what took place
a) There is no memory of the second world war, no "first-hand experience" except that of immigrants and ex-combattants.
b) There are other priorities in a situation where basic necessities such as housing, work and food take precedence over other problems.
c) There is a standard of education which prevents people from localising in time and space the events of the war.
2) The Kristallnacht programme, executed at the beginning of November 1988, coincided with the electoral campaigns (15 Nov.) which naturally took precedence in the minds of the people.
3) The Jewish minority is insignificant in some regions. In a project on Jews, the basic facts have to be presented before the Shoah and antisemitism are tackled, e.g. in one church the priest first explained to the people what a synagogue was, then spoke of the events which led to the burning of synagogues on Kristallnacht.

Final suggestion
In spite of what has been said, there exists in the Brazilian general public an interest in the Shoah which can and must be awakened in order to lessen prejudice against the Jews (this also exists); the subject was broached and in general was listened to by large groups of interested people. In spite of its distance from the Brazilian scene the theme is beginning to be developed by the personal initiative of some teachers in their. chools.

On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the declaration of World War II (1989) the subject must be taken up yet again in schools and public meetings, this time with material suitable for different age-groups. This has yet to be produced in Brazil, because there are neither text books for the pupils nor guide books for their teachers.

Rabin Dr. Michael H. Le ipziger, S. Paulo

In the Jewish Community:

There is a "Centre of Survivors of the holocaust" in Uruguay to which the children also belong. Its main purpose is "not to forget". Published material is in Spanish and comes mainly from Publishing Houses in Argentina. Only a small number of people read English or Hebrew.

About 25% of Jewish children and teenagers are educated in Jewish schools where the Shoah is taught. In other schools (the State schools which are non sectarian or Private, some of which are Catholic), the word "Holocaust" is practically unknown. As regards Catholics, I would like to remark that the Vatican documents of 1965, 1974 and 1985 on Catholic-Jewish Relations have been ineffective in promoting any real change in teaching and catechesis on the points they deal with. It would require action from higher authority to support the efforts made by people of good will in this field throughout the world (the Holy See, the different Churches, etc.) in order to implement programmes for a correct understanding of the Shoah, beginning with children and teenagers.

Kristallnacht is officially commemorated in Uruguay by the local branch of B' nai B' rith with the participation of Jewish and non-Jewish speakers. (In 1987 the non-Jewish speaker was the wife of the President of the Republic, an international History Professor).

The Shoah is not commemorated in Christian circles. At the present time it would not be possible for this to be understood. It is scarcely mentioned in the media though some articles and studies of little weight have been pub

Dr. Jacob Hazdn, Montevideo


Two aspects of Canada need to be underlined before dealing with the Shoah in the education system. First, nearly fifty per cent of all Jews in Canada live in the city of Toronto with more than forty per cent in Montreal both English and French. The remaining population of Canadian Jewry is scattered throughout a large geographic territory.
Second, each province in Canada has authority over its education system which means there are no uniform curri-- culUms nor teacher training programmes. Each province also varies as to public (though not always protestant) and denominational (mainly Roman Catholic) school systems.

This report will therefore deal by regions with the question of education of children and others about the Shoah and its commemoration in public prayer by Jews and Christians.

West Coast and Prairies

Generally speaking public (mainly Protestant) and Separate (mainly Roman Catholic) schools may touch upon the Shoah in History courses in the senior years. It is seen as oneof the outcomes of World War II. In the intermediate years depending on the interest of the individual teacher and within the history or social sciences courses some emphasis might be given. Probably anti-semitic events are dealt with during discussion of current events. Few religion teachers in the Catholic schools see reason to incorporate it into their curriculums. Some are even tired of the topic or aren't interested. However, since a teacher was indicted for revisionist teaching several boards and provincial education departments have set about to revise their curriculums for greater tolerance and respect in our cultural mosaic.lished. There are no scholars of the Shoah outside Jewish circles.

Nearly all the Jews of this province dwell in the city of Toronto which creates public awareness of Jews and Judaism in general. Plus, they become a major resource and impetus or pressure to act. As a result the Public schools of Toronto have a very large Ethnic Relations Curriculum developed which brings the topic of the Shoah into areas of history, social sciences and/or literature at the intermediate and senior levels. Much of their work is based on the curriculum Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior. Unfortunately there is little teacher preparation and training.

Toronto Separate schools are required to teach the Shoah as part of their Comparative Religions Curriculum as well as in history, literature and the social sciences. A new curriculum now in its third and final years is being developed with the Facing History curriculum. Teacher training and curriculum receives continual updating.

Canadian Jewish Congress annually offers four aids: a teacher training programme, a day for students, either a half or full day for groups of students at the Holocaust Centre, talks in classrooms with a survivor as guest speaker.

B’nai B’rith has a yearly educational tour of camp sites. The Jewish community each year sponsors for the public Holocaust Education Week with as many as thirty activities. Lastly, Christian Jewish Dialogue of Toronto hosts a day for Clergy and Christian Lay leaders.

It is almost impossible to draw a succinct picture when taking into account the secular/religious differences and the two language sytems to be found in this province. With the complexity of the educational system no uniform curriculum is possible in Quebec. And since nearly the entire Jewish population is found in Montreal little, if anything, occurs outside this city. However, with some oversimplification certain aspects surface.
In English speaking protestant, catholic and private schools where there are interested individuals Holocaust studies occur. In all senior levels and at some elementary levels it appears generally in curriculums under moral and religious education, English literature, world religions, and in particular World War II. Classes are often taken to visit the Holocaust Memorial Centre in Montreal.

In the Francophone area at all levels of education through to university little is happening despite outreach. No courses deal with the topic though a few interested teachers in some schools include units mainly in a history course or in relation to European culture.
The Public School Board of Greater Montreal and the Montreal Holocaust Centre jointly offer workshops and seminars to assist teachers which includes a tour of the Centre.

The Maritimes
It would seem until now nothing is happening at any level of education on the east coast. However, the education department in one province has sponsored an institute to acquaint history teachers with the new Holocaust curriculum. This may be significant considering there has been much publicity concerning a local revisionist publisher-teacher.

On the west coast, prairies and in the maritimes no Christian or interfaith memorial services appear to be held. This is also true for all of Ontario and Quebec with the significant exception of the two cities named. Montreal holds an annual event which is characteristically ecumenical and planned by Christians and Jews. Toronto has an ecumenical-interfaith event for eight years which has been televised nation-wide in recent years. Also for the Holocaust Remembrance service of the Jewish community Christians have input. Numerous North American cities have patterned their service after the Toronto model.

Elizabeth Losinski , nds

The person attempting a brief survey of efforts in the U.S. in Holocaust education is faced with a certain difficulty. On the one hand, the Shooh is being taught more widely throughout the country than at any time since the 1940's. On the other hand, there is no current systematic analysis of what is being taught and how it is effecting learners.
A number of Holocaust institutions further Holocaust education in the U.S. These include museums, resource centers, libraries and archives, research institutes and memorials. Pre-eminent among these is the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, created in 1980 by an act of Congress. The Council acts to create and sustain networks for those involved in Holocaust programs throughout the country. And plans for a Museum are under way.
There is no national program for Holocaust education in American public schools, because education in the U.S. is organized on state and local levels. However, since the mid-1970's approximately two hundred school systems throughout the country have integrated the study of the Holocaust into their curricula. And a 1985 survey of Catholic schools, sponsored by the Secretariat for Catholic-Jewish Relations (National Conference of Catholic Bishops), indicated that 62% of those high schools responding to the survey likewise provided some form of Holocaust education for their students.

Although there are some programs for primary school children, most of these efforts, in both public and denominational schools, are on the secondary level. In some instances, there are specific courses on the Shoah, and there is increasing integration of the topic into English literature, history and social studies courses.

Administrators and teachers interested in developing programs in their schools have access to an abundance of materials. Some of these have been developed by individual organizations, such as the Anti-Defamation League of I?' nai B'rith and the Simon Wiesenthal Center (Los Angeles). The Secretariat for Catholic-Jewish Relations and the American Jewish Committee Department of interreligious Affairs are currently developing a curriculum and resource guide for all levels of Catholic education (primary, secondary, university, seminary and adult formation). The State of New Jersey has sponsored the writing of a secondary school curriculum. And local school districts have likewise formulated their own programs. This has occurred not only in cities with large Jewish communities (e.g., New York, Los Angeles), but in smaller cities where the population is - almost totally Gentile (e.g., Wichita, Kansas).

Several of these curricula serve as resources for schools and other groups throughout the country. Perhaps the best known of these is "Facing History and Ourselves:
Holocaust and Human Behavior", developed by Margot Stern Strom and William S. Parsons for the public schools of Brookline, Massachusetts. The contents and methods of "Facing History" are directed towards adolescents, but may be adapted for university or other adult groups. The team responsible for ''Facing History" also offers teacher-training programs not only in Brookline, but in other Amcrican locations.

Courses on the Holocaust were instituted at the university level in the mid-1960's. Today one finds such courses in departments of Jewish studies as well as in religion, history, and other departments. The level of teaching is high, and courses are well attended. This is true, not only in universities which have large Jewish enrollments. It is also true of smaller colleges, both state and denominational, in sections of the country where Jewish communities are very small or non-existent. (Of the Catholic universities and colleges responding to the 1985 survey cited above, more than 25% offered courses on the Holocaust).

Holocaust education for adults is offered in a variety of non-academic contexts, both local and national. Foremost among the latter efforts is the National Workshop on Jewish-Christian Relations, which takes place every eighteen months, and attracts a thousand or more participants. People attending include not only those involved in dialogue on academic and professional levels, but large numbers of people engaged in "grass roots" efforts. The Workshop program includes seminars on the Holocaust.

There are, thus, a large number of programs in Holocaust education, and this at every level. Nonetheless, the majority of the population is not reached. Moreover, materials and curricula vary in quality, and the abundance of materials sometimes makes it difficult for educators to know how to make appropriate selections for their own contexts. And finally, there is great need for more teacher-training programs in the Holocaust.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council is collecting Holocaust curricula and study materials. The Council's department of education hopes eventually to establish a national clearing-house on Holocaust education, and provide training and on-going support for interested educators throughout the country. Such a network would provide the possibility of coordination while respecting the local independence and variety so much a part of American life and education.
American efforts at Holocaust education are many and varied. There are lacunae, of course, but the developments of the last twenty years bear promise for future growth in this essential area of instruction and reflection.

While the commemoration of Yom HaShoah is not widespread in interfaith or Gentile circles, ceremonies do occur in a variety of contexts, both secular and religious. The latter include civic gatherings, neighborhood dialogue groups, seminary and academic settings, and services shared by Christian and Jewish congregations.

The commemoration of UnnllaShoah is relatively new in the U.S. It received impetus in 1979 with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Service, and again in 1980 with the establishment by Congress of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. Since 1983 the governors of all fifty states have issued official proclamations regarding the commemorating of Yom HaShoah or have actually inaugurated memorial services. And, as a government organization, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council sends out materials for memorial services to civic, state and city groups throughout the country.

Introduction of the commemoration into the churches has been slow. Nonetheless, some denominations, such as the Presbyterians and the American Baptists, have placed Yarn HaShoah on their liturgical calendars. And, in the March '88 issue of their newsletter, the bishops' committee on the liturgy (National Conference of Catholic Bishops) encouraged local commemorations of Yam HaShoah and included sample intercessions for the Prayer of the Faithful.

Moreover, some denominations and interfaith groups have prepared services for distribution to local congregations. For example, Eugene Fisher and Leon Klenicki have written "From Death to Hope", sponsored jointly by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee (Wisconsin), the national Liturgical Conference, and the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith. And the National Council of Churches and the National Conference of Christians and Jews are among interfaith groups which have disseminated materials for the commemoration of Yom HaShoah.

These materials may include readings about the Shoah or by Holocaust authors, psalms and other prayers appropriate for a congregation including Christians and Jews, music and instructions for homelies, lighting candles, etc.

There are, thus, reports of Yom HaShoah commemorations in a wide variety of contexts in the U.S., and materials are available for groups needing help in formulating memorial services. There is, however, no data available indicating precisely how widely the commemoration occurs, or the ongoing impact on the groups involved.

Celia Deutsch, nds Brooklyn, N. Y.


Home | Who we are | What we do | Resources | Join us | News | Contact us | Site map

Copyright Sisters of Our Lady of Sion - General House, Rome - 2011