This is written as an accompaniment to the podcast on education. As a team we are dedicated to educate about the past so that lessons from history can be used to inform about the world today and create a more tolerant and caring society. We use our links to that time, be they family heritage, contact with survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides, knowledge of the Nazi era and sites of suffering and murder, our professional backgrounds, and our own academic and other levels of research. Armed with these tools we can bring something different to the forum of education, whether it be with adult or child audiences. We are blessed that primarily because of Rainer's status we can gain access to a wider audience through multiple mainstream and lesser known media outlets. We also have the tools or far-reaching social media.
When we are invited into a school setting we will work with teachers to provide something that is age-appropriate and fits in with the curriculum, which allows questioning and interaction, and most importantly, ensures that follow up discussions take place, and if the subject matter causes distress, guarantees that there is pastoral care and support. In concordance with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance guidelines we will not show any images of naked or dead concentration camp as it is known that such images cause distress to younger students and are likely to be counterproductive to educational intentions or any reading. We will always give students the option to walk out of any reading about genocide if they choose to, but on the understanding that a member of the school staff will be available to exercise a duty of care. Similarly, we will not make any assumptions about adult audiences being more psychologically robust. If someone wishes to walk out, then they must feel safe and empowered to do so.
We encourage the use of technology, but also more simple visual aids. As mentioned in the podcast, brown and white eggs when cracked open reveal that the contents are the same color - this conveys a simple message about racism. A length of ribbon, rope or string can visually represent the numbers of lives lost in a way that is powerful and effective - we would suggest 1 cm for 1,000 lives which could be unfurled to 60 meters for the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust or any other number of lives lost the speaker wishes to portray.
We also encourage people to be inquisitive, curious and questioning. Independent research away from peer and other influences is essential. Such research should be alert to the agenda and motivation of authors and speakers, and also of the source material that they use. Conspiracy theorists - including deniers, revisionists or negationists - seek to make compelling arguments to support their opinions. Checks on websites or such groups will find many likeminded individuals. This does not give the sites validity, it simply demonstrates confirmation and an element of mobility. Good research, particularly in academia, will use multiple sources for investigating events. This is a good suggestion for any research. It helps to be aware that while the Internet can be very useful it is also a place of unhelpful or flawed information.
We must educate ourselves constantly. We must not assume that because we learned something previously when it was accepted as fact, that the previous knowledge is still valid. Historical knowledge can be fluid as more sources of information become available.
Mostly we would encourage people to look at the past - the multiple factors that led to Nazism, the Holocaust and other genocides - and reflect on the world today. Hindsight is wonderful. It's very easy to look at Germany and Europe in the first half of the twentieth century and say the horrors were predictable. Of course they were, but then, as now, people were not seeing the bigger picture but were instead focused on the immediacy of their own lives and world. The bigger picture can always be seen, but one has to take a step back to do so. Once that is done then the benefits of education spring into action as we seek to influence our families, friends, colleagues, peers and other associates in challenging potentially harmful opinions they may hold, or to improve their own knowledge levels.
This accompaniment to the podcast was written by Simon Bell.