Time to refocus on Holocaust education

March 22, 2021

Column

Time to refocus on Holocaust education

By Michael Levitt

A lot has been written in recent weeks about the Holocaust, yet sadly not by those who you might think. The majority of the headlines have not highlighted survivors sharing harrowing testimony, or the emergence of new strategies for Holocaust remembrance as we look toward the future.

Instead, most of the latest news has stemmed from articles, TikTok videos and statements that seek to twist the Holocaust into ill-conceived personal narratives or a spectacle to be profited from.

A Quebec auction house recently put up a collection of Holocaust-era relics for sale, including a Zyklon B gas canister that was once filled with the poison used to murder Jews in the gas chambers of death camps like Auschwitz. For perspective, can you imagine a business publicly profiting from reselling a weapon that was recently used in a mass shooting? Shockingly, the used Zyklon B canister was described as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” and as the “Holy Grail” for potential buyers.

After raising our objections with the online auctioneers, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center convinced them to remove the collection from their platform. We firmly believe these types of items should only be used for educational purposes and that any other for-profit motive is grossly inappropriate.

While profiting from Holocaust memorabilia is overtly problematic, it is not only the world of online auctions that have come under fire. Reckless Holocaust comparisons have become far too common in the mainstream. Just a few weeks ago, a national newspaper published an incredibly ill-conceived opinion piece written by a woman who sought to relate her time in pandemic lockdown to the experiences of Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam during the Holocaust.

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