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‘Teaching of genocides needs to change’
3:00pm Saturday 1st February 2014 in News
By ELLIE MULLAN, aged 17
ASK most people what the most important statistic is about genocides and the likely answer will be that six million Jewish people were murdered during the Holocaust.
I am thankful to live in a society where virtually everyone is aware of, and hates, what was inflicted on members of the Jewish religion.
However, when writing this article, I did some research about the number of genocides which have occurred throughout history.
The answer surprised and astonished me. Hundreds of events, most of which I have never heard of, filled my screen.
Dating from the 1490s to the present day, the systematic destruction of national, ethnic, racial or religious groups has permeated history.
This got me thinking – am I just the odd one out, or should young people (or people in general) have more awareness of these horrific events?
Being a history student, I felt ashamed and embarrassed that I did not have any knowledge of most of these genocides.
But what about everyone else?
Do young people care about these actions which wiped out entire populations, and if they don’t are they themselves to blame?
Looking at the Holocaust itself, there again seems to be some misconceptions in our knowledge.
Most associate the Holocaust with the Jewish religion, but many more groups were victims.
Soviet Communists, ethnic Poles, freemasons, Slovenes, homosexuals, disabled people, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Spanish Republicans were among others who were also murdered during this period.
The mistaken belief held that only Jews were affected is worrying, and leads me to argue the teaching of these events to both the young and old should change in order that they are not forgotten or wrongly remembered over time.
There needs to be both more awareness of the range of groups affected by the Holocaust and the number of genocides that have polluted our history.
Holocaust Memorial Day is a learning platform for our generation.
The sense of unification and remembrance that is created every year is a source of hope that one day, genocide will end for good.
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