There's an email circulating out there saying British schools no longer teach pupils about the Holocaust because of Muslim opposition. My sister sent it to me. I immediately sent her the link to snopes.com that debunks this urban legend. Also, why she thought I, with two children in the British school system, wouldn't have something to say on this subject is beyond me. But that's my family.
But I decided this opened up an opportunity for me to talk to my son (my daughter was out) about the Holocaust. Hubby and I told him what we knew about it, starting with Kristallnacht. I explained to him about how Austrians broke into Jewish-owned businesses that night and ransacked them. It was called Kristallnacht because of all the broken glass on the ground. Then Jews were forced to wear badges on their sleeves and only live in areas called ghettoes. The homes and property of many were taken by the Nazis. Then, the Final Solution was devised in which they were herded onto trains and taken to concentration camps. Their heads were shaved, their clothing replaced by "striped pajamas," they were all but starved. And then they were gassed and either buried in mass graves or incinerated.
I told him the plot of "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas." Have you read the book or seen the movie? It's hard not to be deeply moved by the ending. I told him that not all Germans colluded in this Final Solution, notably Schindler in "Schindler's List." I also told him that in the USA during WWII there were concentration camps for Japanese-American citizens, one not far from my mother in Wyoming. Hubby told him that the British first came up with the idea of concentration camps during the Boer War.
I also told him how Israel came to be a nation in 1948, thus setting the scene for the conflicts that continue to this day between Jews and Palestinians. We touched on other holocausts as well, discussing Stalin's murder of millions of his own people. Most recently, in Bosnia, Muslims were rounded up and murdered en masse. We should not forget the Holocaust of WWII. We should not forget any Holocaust.
This was a lot of information for a 12-year-old boy, but I think he took most of it in. I suppose my first exposure to the Holocaust was reading "The Diary of Anne Frank." From there I read other books about the Holocaust. Some of it was school work, most of it was on my own volition.
I can't change the narrow-mindedness of my family, but I can have some influence still over my children and try to teach them that hating people because of their religion, race, or creed is wrong.