The Holocaust and the Young

Tuesday’s are typically going to show present examples of anti-Semitism taken from current news stories, and so forth, for the weeks leading up to the Houston marches.  Today, however, I decided to start this series of blogs by showing a video clip that is not the definition of anti-Semitic. This video does not show hatred, discrimination or prejudice against the Jewish people in any way, shape or form.  Instead this is one clip, of many such videos, that shows the ignorance of people, specifically students, concerning the topics of the World War II and the Holocaust.  As I’ve said, though this video focuses solely on university students, I have also seen many videos where they ask similar questions of a wide range of people with very similar results.  As a young woman still in school, I found this video, in particular, both sad and surprising (though maybe not as much as I should).  The fact that I didn’t find it as surprising as I should, made it even more depressing. It is a sad truth that many student learn what they need to know for a test and, if its not interesting to them or they don’t need it for their choice in career, they flush the knowledge from their conscious memory. What REALLY struck me about this video, in particular, was that many of the questions (such as “Who were the allies?”, “What was the Holocaust?”, “When did WWII take place?”) should have been easier to answer, at least, partially correctly just from watching popular television shows and movies even if you don’t like history as a whole.  For Example, I know a lot of college students who watch “Doctor Who” which has two episodes I know of off the top of my head that takes place during WWII.  If BBC shows aren’t your thing, most college kids have watched at least one blockbuster hit that’s either a WWII movie or a movie about the Holocaust like “Pearl Harbor”, “Schindler’s List” or “Saving Private Ryan”.  Even if history isn’t someones favorite subject, they are still likely to watch a historically based movie every now and then so that basic information should still be easier to remember, especially for such a media driven generation as that of the the current university student.  Now, I don’t want anyone thinking that I’m ranting or that I think less of the students shown, I think some of them knew more than they could recall at that moment,I understand that its hard to remember things when under pressure, I’m just trying to describe what my first impressions were.  All of the students were very polite and most of them knew that they should have been able to answer the majority of those questions.  What I’ve noticed, as I’ve gone through school, is that teachers aren’t generally able to spend very much time on any one point in history because there is so much to cover in a limited amount of time.  Because of this, most students are just given the bare-bone facts and statics of what happened during, specifically, WWII and the Holocaust.  This makes it difficult, even for someone like me who loves history and already knew a decent amount about the Holocaust, to connect with it on a significant level and remember many of those facts past the test.  This is something that I truly wish could change within the school systems so that everyone could benefit by being more knowledgeable on all important events in our history, because past knowledge really can make a difference in the future.  The only feasible way that I can see things actually changing though, is for parents to encourage outside learning, by taking they’re kids to museums and watching historical documentaries, starting at a young age.  My mother always encouraged my brother and I to learn about anything that interested us, and that is something that has stayed with us our lives.