USHMM's Guidelines for Teaching about the Holocaust
The Holocaust has challenged the cognitive and communicative faculties of even those who were firsthand witnesses to its atrocities.
Teaching and learning typically depend on communicating with words and images. This dependence is unavoidably fraught with problems when educators encourage students to appreciate the scope and depth of the Holocaust’s horrors. Western civilization’s relationships to language and imagery came under assault during the Holocaust. By design, the Nazis manipulated and abused language and imagery to implement the destruction of a people. In this context, learning about the Holocaust demands sensitivity to the power of conventional tools of communication. The call for sensitivity is not a matter of monitoring word choices for mere political correctness. Rather, it is about developing a more precise lexicon that might permit us to comprehend, convey, and resist what the Nazis set out to accomplish in their assault on life and culture.
We highlight the following terms, not to say that they should be avoided in all lessons, but so that they may be used in their proper contexts.