Holocaust Education in Hungary

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Mónika Kovács

Mónika Kovács, President of the Hannah Arendt Association in Budapest/Hungary, introduces different approaches of Holocaust Education in Hungary. The article consists of the four following main topics and provides a variety of suggestions for topics and methods how to teach about the holocaust.

I. The Holocaust in the Context of Human Rights

Summary: The Holocaust is the negative reference point for modern civilisation, as Adorno said: “The very first demand on education is that there not be another Auschwitz”. We have to erect memorials to the murdered millions at the same time as putting all our efforts into raising the kind of autonomous citizens who know and defend their human rights and the human rights of others.

II. Jewish History, Tradition and Identity

Summary: The Jewry preserved its own identity and traditions for a period of more than two thousand years without its own state and in minority groups all over the world. There are only very vague traces and memories left in post-Holocaust Europe of the once blossoming European Jewish communities. The aim of these lessons is to introduce as much as possible about Jewish history and traditions as well as outlining the process of the emancipation and the decrease of social distance between Jews and non-Jews.

III. Anti-Semitism

Summary: The aim of these lessons is to analyse the phenomenon of Jew-hatred from a historical, a sociological and a psychological point of view. And to teach the students a way of thinking which will help them to gain a better understanding of their own prejudices and stereotypes and those of others.

IV. The Stages of the Genocide and the Society of the Holocaust

Summary: Based on Hilberg’s approach, Nazi genocide is commonly broken into five stages (definition, expropriation, concentration, deportation and murder). In order to understand how the Holocaust could have happened, we have to understand the motivation of the Holocaust society (perpetrators, non-interveners, rescuers, non-Jewish opponents of the Nazis) as well as the vulnerability of the victims.

The Hannah Arendt Association, Budapest is a non -profit organisation whose mission is to introduce new teaching materials into schools, which attempt to combat racism, prejudice and group violence and which encourage students to advocate human rights, to develop multicultural thinking, and to become committed and conscientious citizens.
It was established in 1997 by teachers, psychologists and education experts, who had previously worked with the programme "Facing History and Ourselves. Holocaust and Human Behaviour". The Association's purpose, in addition to organising teacher training seminars introducing "Facing History and Ourselves" programme is to develop a centre which would provide continued support to teachers after their training with methodology training, teaching, teaching materials, and also by creating a network of school participating in the programme.

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