Spielberg Urges Mandatory Holocaust Education

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Steven Spielberg has urged that every public high school in the United States be required to teach the Holocaust, according to an article by the Jerusalem Post. His plea came in response to a recent study (see our blog post on it here) which found that 41% of Americans did not know what Auschwitz was.

At a panel discussion in April, on the 25 year anniversary of the release of Schindler’s List, the director said, “It’s not a prerequisite to graduate high school, as it should be…It should be part of the social science, social studies curriculum in every public high school in this country.”

Spielberg was responding to a question regarding the poll, released by the Claims Conference last month, which showed that 22% of millennials hadn’t even heard of the Holocaust.

When Schindler’s List won Best Director and Best Picture in 1993, Spielberg’s  acceptance speech begged for Holocaust education in schools. “There are 350,000 survivors of the Holocaust alive today. I implore all the educators who are watching this program to please, do not allow the Holocaust to remain a footnote in history,” he said,  “please teach this in your schools.”

In 1994, Spielberg founded the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education to videotape and preserve interviews with survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust.

Since 1994, a new generation has grown up even further removed from the lessons of history. It’s why we feel this movie needs to made now, more than ever.

Tiger Within begins by showing, through the character of 15 year-old Casey, what it can look like when a young millenial has no notion of the Holocaust.  When she meets Samuel, a Dachau survivor, the lessons she learns about his past radically challenge her intolerance. Tiger Within is a response to Spielberg’s call– a lesson in the importance of promoting peace in our newest generations by opening a dialogue with the past.

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