Relevance of the Holocaust
HHREC approaches the Holocaust not strictly as a historical event, but as an example of the dangers of indifference and denial. We stress the importance of valuing all human life; respecting all minorities - religious, racial, ethnic, sexual and social; and our need to understand and accept one another.
"Our mission in teaching about the Holocaust is to spread awareness of the dangers of extreme and baseless hatred, and to promote understanding and tolerance to safeguard human rights for all individuals.
We note that the Holocaust was a human story. Human beings did the destruction. They were victims, bystanders, perpetrators and rescuers. Our goal is to encourage students to learn positive lessons from this event and encourage students to model the behavior of rescuers and by being upstanders in their communities.
We also want to emphasize the positive lessons to be learned from a world where all definitions of right, wrong, legal and illegal were distorted, undermined and ultimately found to be meaningless. We identify the positive lessons that can be learned from this event: appreciation of differences, and an understanding and mutual respect for fellow citizens. If we are conscious of the dangers of discrimination, intolerance and hatred, we can apply these lessons to universal aspects of human behavior.
The Holocaust is ultimately a story about life and survival against overwhelming odds. Although the initial master plan of the final solution was to divide, destroy and annihilate a nation, this chapter in history has been transformed into a topic and theme that creates communities of respect rather than division, opens doors to a better understanding of human rights and promotes tolerance among individuals.
Through teaching about the Holocaust, our programs aim to raise ethical questions, praise rescuers as models of behavior and help students find sources of strength, hope, resilience, identity and renewal. We seek to enable students to realize their important part of this mission so that they turn their ideas into action, thereby securing these goals and values for the future."
"If children can be taught to fear and despise others simply because they are 'others' - then we can also teach children to accept and respect the fundamental value and rights of others simply because they are human.
This is the relevant lesson of the Holocaust for today, and it is our imperative duty and responsibility that we teach it, and that we teach it well."
Dr. Sheldon Grebstein
Former Director of Education - HHREC