Wie wird Antisemitismus im schulischen Alltag sichtbar? Welche Erfahrungen machen jüdische Schüler*innen sowie ihre Eltern mit Antisemitismus und Diskriminierung? Welche Praktiken, Bedarfe und Herausforderungen ergeben sich daraus für Schulen und Politik?

„German Teachers Learning about the Shoah in Israel”

Guests: Prof. Dr. Julia Resnik and Lance Levenson (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) Dr. Friederike Lorenz (Freie University Berlin) Greeting: Marina Chernivsky (Head of Competence Centre for Prevention and Empowerment)

Moderation: Beate Klammt (Competence Centre for Prevention and Empowerment)

The word overwhelming is one of the themes of my life… I can’t cope with it. It’s something like speechlessness and helplessness. Nobody likes to say that, and maybe nobody likes to hear it as a teacher. And if it weren’t so, if it didn’t affect me, I couldn’t teach it either.“ (Teacher, p.50)

These conversations in the schoolyard, these insults, this anti-Semitism… I can feel that it is increasing again in recent years….I think that young people also take over from their parents’ conversations. That is simply unreflective, what is there, and you have to counteract it. And I hope to find answers.“ (Teacher, p.60)

For educators, such as the quoted teacher above, teaching the history of the Shoah to the next generation of German youth is fraught with challenges and ambiguities. From coping with overwhelming emotions to counteracting anti-Semitism in the schoolyard, it is clear that history is not only confined to the past, but is also reflected in teacher practices in the present. In today’s post-Shoah society, Germans are continuously performing memory through storytelling from one’s childhood, nonverbal communication of past experiences in reactions and body language, the interpretation of historical events, jokes, hints, and comments, or meaningful silence. In the context of teacher further education, each year, hundred of teachers from Germany participate in seminars at an Israeli Holocaust memorial.

Researchers Lance Levenson, Julia Resnik (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and Friederike Lorenz (Freie University Berlin) present a 2.5-year ethnographic study (funded by GIF, the German-Israeli Research Foundation) of these seminars, preparatory workshops, and post-seminar reflections. Through participant observation, group discussions, and narrative interviews, the project explored both how and why German teachers, who face a myriad of challenges in teaching the Holocaust to the next generation, learn about the Shoah from Jewish perspectives in a Holocaust education setting in Israel. The study provides insights from multiple perspectives, including German state education ministries, teacher-participants, and seminar educators, regarding the question of what role generational orientations and emotions play in Holocaust education and how learning about the history of the Shoah is linked with perceptions of the present.

The research presentation is a cooperation event between the researchers of the study, that was funded by the GIF, and the competence center for prevention and empowerment. It is made possible by the support of the Rights Equality and Citizenship Program of the European Union through the project „Speak UP”.