Paul Salmons – Why do we continue to ignore the Holocaust?

Event Date: 26 January 2016

Windsor Auditorium

Royal Holloway University of London
Egham, Surrey
TW20 0EX

David Cesarani Holocaust Memorial Lecture

Paul Salmons  (Programme Director UCL Centre for Holocaust Education, University College London) – Why do we continue to ignore the Holocaust?

As Britain prepares for its national Holocaust Memorial Day, it may seem perverse to ask the question ‘Why do we continue to ignore the Holocaust?’ Especially as it has held a place on our national curriculum for some quarter of a century and a cursory look at the films, novels, art and media of the last few decades could lead some to claim that our culture has been saturated by the Holocaust. And yet, despite all of these cultural representations, despite the hundreds of commemorative events across the country and the thousands of classroom lessons devoted to this subject, new national research indicates a surprising lack of knowledge and understanding about the Holocaust among secondary school students. Rather than blame schools, teachers and students, Salmons and his colleagues at the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education believe that this research reveals myths and misconceptions that lie at the heart of a story Britain has told itself about the Holocaust. A story that has focused too much on the ‘lessons of the Holocaust’ without really exploring what the Holocaust actually was, or why and how it happened. And so, as Britain now considers how to fulfil the ‘promise to remember’ made by the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission, perhaps this is the time to question how it is possible for there to be so much memory of a past that is so little understood, and to consider how secure is memory without knowledge and understanding?

NB: Due to a technical failure at the Windsor auditorium we cannot bring you the welcoming words by Professor Katie Normington (RHUL Vice Principal (Staffing) and Dean of Arts and Social Science) and the introductory comments by Professor Dan Stone (RHUL).

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