Bill would make Holocaust education mandatory for Wisconsin public school students

Holocaust survivor Eva Zaret say passing the bill will prevent the next generation from repeating the atrocity of the past

MADISON, Wis. (WKBT)- Six million Jewish people and 5 million other people were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust. January 27th is International Holocaust Remembrance day.  A bill circulating at the state capitol in Madison would making teaching public students about the Holocaust mandatory. The bill is being circulated for co-sponsors. It has bipartisan support as well as the support of Holocaust survivors and educators.

Sharing stories of hatred is difficult, but something Eva Zaret believes she must do. “Hatred is rising and I feel the responsibility to speak up.”, say Zaret.

Zaret was seven years old when Nazi soldiers stormed her Budapest home and murdered most of her family and community. “The Nazi comes over, grabs the screaming baby from the mother’s arm, and throws it to the wall. That is a nightmare I never forget.” The 84-year-old Holocaust survivor has spent much of her life sharing her story with young people. “If we don’t learn about history it repeats and repeats and gets worse.”, explains Zaret.

A bill circulating at the Wisconsin state capitol would require all students to learn about the Holocaust once during middle school, and then again, during high school.  The curriculum and materials would be provided by Wisconsin scholars, including those at the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center. “We’ve been preparing a lot of new materials that are going to be available to educators online for free.”, says HERC executive director, Samantha Abramson.

A spokesman for State Senator Brad Pfaff, who represents the La Crosse area, says Pfaff is a co-sponsor of the bill and will vote for its passage, if it comes to the senate floor.

Six million Jewish people were murdered during the Holocaust.  An atrocity you would think is worthy of all Wisconsin classroom curriculums, but the president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council says that’s not the case.  “We have a social and moral obligation to teach about events like the Holocaust, and unless it’s mandated its hit or miss in some district.”, explains Ron Martin.

While state lawmaker ponder its importance, Eva will keep sharing her story of heartache and resilience. “As long as I am talking about the people that I loved, they are alive in my head.”, says Zaret with a smile.

The first-ever 50-state survey on Holocaust knowledge of American millennials and gen z’s, released last year, revealed shocking results. In Wisconsin, one in three young people said they came across a swastika or other pro- Nazi symbols on their social media feed