By Kayla Smith, Noah Cody, & Sadie Thuestad
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers signed a bill on April 28, 2021, requires all Wisconsin middle and high school social studies courses to teach about the Holocaust and other genocides. Wisconsin is the 17th state across the country to join in on this bill. The bill states that all public schools, charter schools, and private schools must teach about the subject once between fifth and eighth grade and once while in high school.
According to an article by the British Broadcasting Corporation, What was the Holocaust? “The Holocaust was a period in history at the time of World War Two (1939-1945) when millions of Jews were murdered because of who they were. The killings were organized by Germany’s Nazi party, led by Adolf Hitler. Jews were the main target of the Nazis, and the greatest number of victims were Jewish.”
Mark Karau, a professor at the history department at the University of Wisconsin- Green Bay (UWGB), is an expert on the history of Germany from 1871 to 1989, especially on the first World War. Professor believes that the Holocaust is essential to teach students, saying, “More than just prevention in the future since it’s still happening in other places. It’s important to study and keep the memories of those people. Those who were murdered are not forgotten.”
Karau also mentioned that it took so long for this lesson to be a requirement because it takes a while for people to truly grasp what happened and come to terms with the events. It wasn’t until the early 90s that historians started to study the events during the Holocaust. For all of the information to be understood by the students and taught by the teachers/professors, it takes time. Professor Karau mentioned that it is essential to ensure that the Holocaust is taught properly, as it is a sensitive topic. He has partnered with the literature department to teach his courses, as it gives the students a better understanding of the event. He also mentions how it is essential to make sure that there is time for the students to take a break from the topic and digest all of the information.
Pam Griesbach, an English teacher at Flambeau High School, does extensive work with her students on the Holocaust. Griesbach says, “I do not understand why this subject would not be taught. This is exactly what the survivors were worried about that when they die, their stories will die with them.” In essence, the stories passed through from the professors to their students help to remember the millions of people from different races that were wrongly imprisoned and killed.