A student's perspective of the Holocaust and how easily it could happen again!

An S6 student at Peterhead Academy was so touched by a recent project researching and learning about the Holocaust, he wanted to ensure others would be as informed as he and his class was.

By Nathan Buchan
Monday, 7th February 2022, 11:21 am
Updated Monday, 7th February 2022, 11:21 am
For how many, was a sunset like this the last thing they saw?

Nathan Buchan told how over the last few months he had been working through the Lessons From Auschwitz (LFA) Project provided by the Holocaust Educational Trust to secondary education in an attempt to educate young adults on the Holocaust.

Nathan explained: “During Holocaust Memorial Day last week, the attention of the masses was rightly fixed predominantly on the victims of the Holocaust.

"The six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their co-conspirators deserve to be commemorated and remembered, for they were the victims of an execrable atrocity.

There are many locations in Auschwitz-Birkenau that shock, but none so much as this

"The lessons to be learnt from recognising the individuality of each person murdered by the Nazis are manifold: we learn of the illegitimacy and destructiveness of group-based hatred not only through the consequences of such ideological axioms being institutionalised, but also through a recognition that each of the massacred individuals had a unique identity, personality and a set of idiosyncratic interests.

“However, to do justice to the victims of the Holocaust is to remember the events that transpired – and to truly remember one must understand.

"For how can one justifiably claim that they truly remember something without understanding the context and factors behind its eventuation?

"There is a panoply of imperative lessons to be derived from the Holocaust, and key to apprehending and assimilating this potential knowledge is a genuine analysis of its perpetrators and supporters.

The history of the Holocaust is now taught in schools as part of the curriculum

One might be tempted to conjecture that those behind the Holocaust – and even those who simply supported the extermination policies of the Nazis – were neurodivergent when compared to the modern person.

"There is a widely held belief that there must have been something ‘different’ about the Nazis. The idea that the Nazis, their collaborators and their supporters were simply common people with the same neurocircuitry as us is an anathema to the intuitions of many.

“While it is easy to arbitrarily categorise the Nazis as inherently malign, it is also a simplistic classification, one with potentially dire consequences.

"To truly learn the lessons of the Holocaust is to recognise the innate capacity for immorality and monstrousness within us all.

"And while this may be a daunting and perhaps traumatising realisation, it is indeed a necessary one in terms of truly apprehending the events of the Holocaust.

“Those who perpetrated the Holocaust were typical human beings who espoused a radical ideology, predicated on the infallibility of the Aryan race, and the consequent inferiority, and thus blameworthiness, of all whose ethnicity is not that of the ‘master race.’

"Indeed, the Nazis also pursued ideological homogeneity, the precept which arguably led to the facile conflation of religious Jews and ethnic Jews.

A principal notion of the Nazi philosophy adjunct to the idea of Aryan inerrancy is that of the infallibility of the state, such that it was de facto elevated to the traditional position of God in the Nazi hierarchy of values.

"A dreadful consequence of the belief in the purported inability to err of groups, states and belief systems alike is the deflection of blame onto any group not regarded as being within the ‘infallible’ group in question.

"The intellectual cowardice evinced by such a principle is both transparent and evidently disastrous.

“If we are to do our utmost to appraise the circumstances surrounding the Holocaust and thereby learn the lessons from it, we must recognise that the perpetrators of the Holocaust were ordinary people whose ideological convictions precluded them from accepting the errancy of their state, thought system and race.

"To refute the mistaken notion of Nazi exceptionalism is to truly understand that one crucial factor that stands between us and the occurrence of another terrible atrocity in the future. The ascendance of any identity or set of beliefs to the status of infallibility only leads to senescence, discrimination and hatred.”

The Holocaust Educational Trust was established in 1988.

Their aim is to educate young people from every background about the Holocaust and the important lessons to be learned for today.

The Trust works in schools, universities and in the community to raise awareness and understanding of the Holocaust, providing teacher training, an outreach programme for schools, teaching aids and resource material.

One of their earliest achievements was ensuring that the Holocaust formed part of the National Curriculum for History.

The Lessons from Auschwitz programme offers post-16 students the opportunity to learn about the Holocaust and consider its relevance for today.

Students learn about the history of the Holocaust and the role of camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau; consider the individuals whose lives were affected by the Holocaust; and, importantly, to reflect on the relevance of the Holocaust today and share what they have learned with others.