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Holocaust Ban in UK Schools Chain Email

Summary:
Email "memorial chain" claims that the UK has removed topics about the Holocaust from its school curriculum (Full commentary below).



Status:
Misleading and inaccurate

Update:
A later version of the message falsely claims that it was the University of Kentucky that removed information about the Holocaust from its school curriculum (Details in Commentary below).

Example 1:(Submitted, April 2007)
In Memoriam

Recently this week, UK removed The Holocaust from its school curriculum because it "offended" the Moslem population which claims it never occurred. This is a frightening portent of the fear that is gripping the world and how easily each country is giving into it.

It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended. This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated with the German and Russia peoples looking the other way!

Now, more than ever, with Iran , among others, claiming the Holocaust to be"a myth," it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets

This e-mail is intended to reach 40 million people worldwide!

Join us and be a link in the memorial chain and help us distribute it around the world. Please send this e-mail to 10 people you know and ask them to continue the memorial chain.

Please don't just delete it. It will only take you a minute to pass this along - Thanks!


Example 2:(Submitted, November 2007)
Subject: IN MEMORIAM University of Kentucky

IN MEMORIAM -- This week the University of Kentucky removed The Holocaust from its school curriculum because it "offended" the Muslim population which claims it never occurred. This is a frightening portent of the fear that is gripping the world and how easily each country is giving into it. It is now more than 60 years since the Second World War in Europe ended. This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated with the German and Russian peoples looking the other way! Now more than ever, with Iran among others claiming the Holocaust to be "a myth," it i! s imperative to make sure the world never forgets. This e-mail is intended to reach 40 million people worldwide! Join us and be a link in the memorial chain and help us distribute it around the world. Please send this e-mail to 10 people you know and ask them to continue the memorial chain.

Please don't just delete it. It will only take you a minute to pass this along - Thanks!

IN GOD WE TRUST




Commentary:
This email forward claims that teachings about the Holocaust have been removed from the United Kingdom (UK) school curriculum because their inclusion may offend Muslim citizens. However, this claim is unfounded. The UK government has not banned the teaching of the Holocaust in schools, nor is it planning to do so.

In fact, according to the BBC, "in England, teaching children about the Holocaust is compulsory". While other UK countries such as Scotland and Wales have their own school curriculum and Holocaust teaching is not compulsory, it is certainly not banned and is generally encouraged.

The false information in the message probably arose out of confusion generated by a Historical Association report commissioned by the English Department for Education and Skills. The report states, in part:
"Teachers and schools avoid emotive and controversial history for a variety of reasons, some of which are well-intentioned.

"Staff may wish to avoid causing offence or appearing insensitive to individuals or groups in their classes.

"In particular settings, teachers of history are unwilling to challenge highly contentious or charged versions of history in which pupils are steeped at home, in their community or in a place of worship."
It cites the case of one school that did not select the Holocaust as a topic:
For example, a history department in a northern city recently avoided selecting the Holocaust as a topic for GCSE coursework for fear of confronting anti-Semitic sentiment and Holocaust denial among some Muslim pupils.
Although it does discuss teaching of the Holocaust, the report also references a number of other emotionally charged historical events including the Crusades, slavery and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Thus, the report is certainly not focused just on the Holocaust, nor does it claim in any way that all UK schools have dropped the teaching of controversial historical topics.

Unfortunately, some news items and online commentaries have overstated the significance of the "northern city" example used in the report. In the same paragraph as this example, the report also states, "In another history department, the Holocaust was taught despite anti-Semitic sentiment among some pupils". However, some news articles have apparently chosen to focus primarily on the first example, thereby affording it more importance than it deserves. They have also implied via emotive headlines and news copy that avoiding the Holocaust is a widespread practise in UK schools. This is simply not the case, and such misleading reports have added to the burgeoning anger and confusion surrounding the issue.

Thus, the core claim in this email chain letter is false. The UK Government has not forced schools to drop Holocaust topics. Certainly, we should ensure that our children are taught about the vast human tragedy of the Holocaust and the Second World War. Any attempts by schools or governments to water down or remove historically sensitive topics due to political correctness should be strongly opposed. And we ourselves should never forget. However, forwarding this highly inaccurate and misleading chain email will only serve to sow confusion and misdirected anger. In spite of its claim to be "In Memoriam", the message is not a fitting memorial to victims of the Holocaust or the Second World War and it should not be forwarded.

Update: November 2007
Some time after the original version (Example 1 above) began circulating, a slightly altered version emerged (Example 2 above) that claimed that it was actually the University of Kentucky that was removing teachings about the Holocaust from its curriculum. However, this claim is totally unfounded. It seems likely that someone has mistakenly assumed that the abbreviation "UK" in the original message stands for the University of Kentucky rather than the United Kingdom. Acting on this believe, he or she may have then replaced the abbreviation with the full name of the university, perhaps in a misguided attempt to clarify the message. The University of Kentucky has published information on its website denying the rumour and reassuring the public that it has no intention of removing information about the Holocaust from its curriculum. The statement notes in part:
In fact, though, the university has never even considered jettisoning courses in the Holocaust. Kentucky offers an interdisciplinary minor in Judaic studies, and its history department devotes an entire 300-level course to the Holocaust, campus officials said in a written statement today.
Thus, forwarding this completely inaccurate information about the University of Kentucky is utterly pointless.

References:
Holocaust 'ban' e-mail confusion
Teaching Emotive and Controversial History 3-19
Schools 'drop' controversial Holocaust teaching
U. of Kentucky Afflicted by Spurious E-Mail Chain Letter About the Holocaust

Last updated: 15th November 2007
First published: 19th April 2007

Write-up by Brett M.Christensen