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When and how do you discuss the Holocaust with kids?

(160 Posts)
nevergoogle Mon 29-Apr-13 15:28:58

DS1 is 8 and loves history, "especially the stuff that actually happened" he says. smile
This term he is learning about WWII at school and he's really enjoying the subject. He has complained that the teacher doesn't seem to know much and keeps talking about sweetie rations.
We went to the book shop and I found myself vetting any of the WWII books for any graphic images of the holocaust, which is sensible I think, although it got me feeling like I was enforcing some sort of holocaust denial.
So when and how do you broach this subject?

I remember being about 10 when I discovered some graphic photographs in a history book and I remember finding it very shocking so I don't know if this was too early, or just not the right way to learn about it.

For me, it's such an important part of human history so needs to be discussed at some point, but when?

learnandsay Fri 10-May-13 06:21:31

I've talked about specific thuggish morons, EDL, BNP, KKK and refined supremacists, UKIP. I've talked about past and now defunct fascist parties and groups who aren't political parties at all, (ie you can't vote for them.) I've been specific and related each of my comments to a particular point. What you've continuously done is dragged a point usually similar to something I've talked about (but not always) into a wide generalisation and then disagreed with it!!!

You're not arguing with me. You're arguing with one of your many interpretations of things I often haven't said in the first place. If you want to disagree with a specific point of mine then please cut and past the exact text of what I've said and then disagree with my point. Don't interpret (always wrongly) what I've said and then go off on an irrelevant rant.

breadandbutterfly Thu 09-May-13 10:55:59

Thanks, learnandsay. Still wondering what you meant on this page when you said:

"You'll have to quote me on that one. I can't remember saying that."

Who quoted you on what?

I still disagree with your basic surmise, that supporters of the far right are just thugs with no coherent ideology - as that tends to imply that therefore nothing can or should be done about them. As I stated upthread, clearly what happened in Nazi Germany cannot be explained by labelling the entire population of a highly civilised country as 'thuggish morons' - clearly some would have fallen into that category but many, many more did not. It is to remove culpability and therefore responsibility from those involved by suggesting they are basically too thick and/or mentally ill to know any better.

The educated German upper/middle class at the time certainly could have known better. That things happened as they did has lessons for all of us, including those of us who are not in any way 'thuggish morons'.

Don't forget that in many countries, including England, the leading proponents of fascism were the upper classes.

WidowWadman Wed 08-May-13 18:42:15


"What are you gibbering on about? Why would I wish to start one of these parties when they already exist? But if I wish to start a Nazi party in Germany, I and it will be banned - not because one already exists and it's been 'trademarked' by the 'original' Nazi Party, but because what they did was so horrific that the Germans sensibly do not want to confer democratic respectability on their ideas. It does not mean that the ideology they represented has disappeared, relegated to history. It just means that Nazis in Germany can't join a party of that name if they wish to, nor take part in the democratic process. Nazis in other countries can and do."

That's not entirely true. Whilst incitement of hatred and holocaust denial is illegal, attempts to ban right wing parties such as the NPD as anti-constitutional have been unsuccessful so far. So people can and do still join nasty parties in Germany, too. Thankfully, they're not very popular, though.

learnandsay Wed 08-May-13 18:19:40

I don't know about your comments, but here's what I think about modern fascists.

a) There are lots of them all over Europe and further afield.
b) In America you have all sorts of supremacist and hate groups. I'm not sure how many of them have enough of a political ideology to be called fascist. My limited view of the KKK is that it's what's left behind from a gang of rednecks who once liked lynching black people and burning crosses. But they're not allowed to lynch black people any more and I don't think they're happy with just burning crosses. Anyway, from what I can tell they're not much more than a bunch of thuggish morons.
c) In Britain you have the BNP, EDL who are supremacist, thuggish morons and UKIP, who are too refined to be thuggish morons (and do have a political ideology, well MEPs and councillors, anyway. Perhaps they'll now buy an ideology from a thinktank.) And they went to nice schools, or some of them did. But they're still supremacist, even if they're very nice about it.

What do I think about them all generally? I wouldn't pee on them if they were burning. So, there you are. Now you know.

breadandbutterfly Wed 08-May-13 16:54:14

And what is your response to my comments on modern fascists (your preferred term apparently)?

breadandbutterfly Wed 08-May-13 16:53:01

What have I quoted you on that you have not said??

learnandsay Wed 08-May-13 16:41:19

You'll have to quote me on that one. I can't remember saying that. I do remember explaining politics 101 to you on why you can't register the name of a party already registered.

If you want to misquote me a bit more here are some other things I haven't said:

I haven't said:
Mars is orange.
My left toe is semicircular.
My granddaughter is purple.

I'm sure the world is full of other things that I haven't said too. Please feel free to misquote me on those too.

breadandbutterfly Wed 08-May-13 16:39:29

If you prefer to call them 'modern fascists', I'm not very bothered about the terminology, as I've said. (Though why you think Mussolini isn't going to get hot under the collar about his trademark rights too, I don't know.)

'Modern fascists' (makes them sound a bit like a trendy youth movement to me, like the New Romantics or something, but never mind) are on the rise in many countries across Europe and elsewhere. This is something that should concern any normal person to whom the democratic process matters.

breadandbutterfly Wed 08-May-13 16:35:57

learnandsay - you have claimed that the term 'Nazi Party' is trademarked, preventing modern parties from using the name. This is crap palpably wrong.

Modern parties can and do use the name.

You seem to be tying yourself in knots to avoid the real issues - that Nazism and what it represented is a present as well as past danger.

learnandsay Wed 08-May-13 16:35:42

You don't know anything about my views. All I'm saying is the Nazi Party no longer exists.

If you want to have a conversation with me about modern fascists then that's a different topic.

infamouspoo Wed 08-May-13 16:34:32

I'm struggling to understand learnandsay's point. Except I'm getting a strong feeling of not wanting to teach the Holocaust and not understanding why.

breadandbutterfly Wed 08-May-13 16:33:09

I have to admit I find your views quite concerning, learnandsay. The desire to pretend that the Nazis are all in the past and finished implies that there are therefore no lessons that can be learnt now. It shows extreme naivety about the current political situation in Europe and elsewhere.

gabsid Wed 08-May-13 16:31:44

So Hitler's party was called 'The German Workers Party' and later 'National Socialist German Workers Party'. That doesn't immediately strike me as evil too terrible. I can't stand it if politicians use the word evil, especially American one's - its just not a word I like to use to describe anyone.

learnandsay Wed 08-May-13 16:29:20

Oh, right. So the Electoral Commission would be merely confused, would it if you tried to register The Labour Party.

breadandbutterfly Wed 08-May-13 16:23:12

@ learnandsay

What are you gibbering on about? Why would I wish to start one of these parties when they already exist? But if I wish to start a Nazi party in Germany, I and it will be banned - not because one already exists and it's been 'trademarked' by the 'original' Nazi Party, but because what they did was so horrific that the Germans sensibly do not want to confer democratic respectability on their ideas. It does not mean that the ideology they represented has disappeared, relegated to history. It just means that Nazis in Germany can't join a party of that name if they wish to, nor take part in the democratic process. Nazis in other countries can and do.

The only thing stopping me starting another party called say the Labour party in London or the Democratic party in the US is because it would be mighty confusing as they already exist. It would clearly make more sense to call my party something else. Or if my party followed exactly the same principles as theirs, I'd just join theirs - because I can. But no matter how identical my views as a German are to the original Nazis, I can't join their party. Because it's against German law to do so. But if I'm American, say, I can merrily join the American Nazi party. No 'trademark' restrictions. hmm

How difficult is this to understand?? Do you really think Hitler is going to come back from the grave complaining someone has stolen his trademark??

learnandsay Wed 08-May-13 14:44:30

Well, fine. Go to America and start a new party called the Democratic Party or the Republican Party or come to London and start a new party called The Labour Party

and see how far you get if you think that political parties can't be trademarked.

methinks some are in need of a Politics 101 lesson.

breadandbutterfly Wed 08-May-13 13:10:36

Thank you, gabsid.

And learnandsay - to claim that the Nazis (historical ones) were just 'nutters' is to spectacularly miss the point. Of course an entire nation did not just go 'mad' - the reasons for the success of the Nazis are complex and I suggest you read up on them a little before coming up with such hogwash.

It is too simplistic to suggest they were just born 'evil'. 'Evil' and 'good' are two extremes and most people (everyone?) combine some of each in their make-up. We wish to bring children up to be aware of their and others' potential flaws, so they can take responsibility for being the best human beings they can be.

Interesting musings on this very topic in a recent edition of the FT, entitled "My father, the good Nazi" - about how a son of a very high-ranking Nazi still refuses to come to terms with the evil his father did, because he had some positive aspects too. See:

infamouspoo Wed 08-May-13 13:04:33

call them what you like learnandsay, it happenend before and it can happen again. People like that would like it to happen again.
Already we have elected councillors suggesting disabled children are put down to save money. And they fucking get re-elected. Never forget the Nazi's started with disabled children. And no-one piped up. It always starts small.

gabsid Wed 08-May-13 11:50:22

Well said!

breadandbutterfly Wed 08-May-13 11:37:48

But there isn't just one historical entity with the name 'the Nazi party'. There have been lots of people who call themselves Nazis or Fascists and there still are. You seem to have this strange idea that political affiliations can somehow be trademarked - in your analogy, that only 'official' lumberjacks can call themselves lumberjacks. In the real world, if I wear a checked shirt and cut down trees for a living and call myself a lumberjack, then others may refer to me as a lumberjack - I don't have to belong to 'the Lumberjack Party' or union or whatever for this label to be valid.

You seem to have taken it upon yourself to deny that people who call themselves Nazis and who adhere to traditional Nazi views, are not in fact Nazis. I am not sure why you think you have this right.

You may not intend to come across as apologists for Nazis, current or past, but by trying to suggest that Nazism is a purely historical evil, with no current resonance, you misrepresent both the present and the past. Nazism in the past was complex and represented different things to different people then, just as its current adherents are not identical. That does not mean it did not exist then nor that it does not exist now, nor that we should give up trying to prevent its resurgence or the growth of similar, related movements, such as the BNP, Jobbik in Hungary or Golden Dawn in Greece (and many other local variants).

As I said above, quit with the semantics - it is irrelevant to the main point - namely that the most distinctive and unpleasant policies of Nazism are ones that everyone needs to continue to be aware of and that children should be educated about why intolerance, racism and bullying are not acceptable, from a young age. But we should avoid terrifying young children, at the same time, clearly - events of such horror are not suitable for most young children and can be introduced in more detail when they are ready for it.

gabsid Wed 08-May-13 10:10:03

Also, there are groups and political parties who don't have Nazi in their name but their narrow minded and inward looking right wing view makes them no better, e.g. BNP.

learnandsay Wed 08-May-13 09:50:29

bread, that's not what I'm saying.

If I call myself lumberjack that doesn't make me a lumberjack.
If I call myself Fireman Sam that doesn't make me a fireman.
If I call myself Copper Bill that doesn't make me a policeman.
and so on x 1000

If I call myself Nazi Noonoo that doesn't make me a member of the Nazi Party because the Nazi Party no longer exists. What is makes me is an idiot with ridiculous political ideas and a silly name.

breadandbutterfly Wed 08-May-13 09:14:12

learnandsay - the point is that the Nazis weren't all nutters and their supporters certainly weren't - and to dismiss them as such makes it more likely that an event like the Holocaust could occur again.

There are numerous groups with 'Nazi' in the title around the world (though not in Germany).

I cannot understand your motivation for denying this.

Secondme Tue 07-May-13 18:35:41

dd1 was very interested in history all through years 3, 4, 5, 6. (She didn't do juniors, she did first and middle...) and especially ww2. She became interested in the holocaust in year 5 and was asking lots of questions. I told her the basics, and left it up to her to discover more about it. I had to explain to her that it would never happen again, etc, but I still haven't let her read the boy in the striped pajamas. It is too sad. maybe pictures should be kept till later, because they are quite disturbing...
Also I read the silver sword to ds1 recently and it mentions the holocaust in not much detail. I think a better one to try is Once by Morris gleitzman. Very moving book. Very sad though...lovely book and followed by Then and Now.

learnandsay Tue 07-May-13 18:19:11

Well, he says that he wants to meet congressmen. The obvious question is how many congressmen/women want to meet him? I imagine they're busy people. (I did worry when I read that the now deceased founder of the ANP got invited to speak at universities!)

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