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Playing Holocaust: The Origins Of The Gestapo Simulation Game

by Thomas D. Fallace - 2007

Background/Context: Rabbi Raymond Zwerin and Audrey Friedman Marcus published the Gestapo Holocaust simulation game in 1976. Since that time it has been a source of debate among Jewish intellectuals and other scholars concerned with the pedagogy of the Holocaust. Even the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has weighed in on the issue, taking a clear position against Holocaust simulations of any kind. In this essay, the author informs this debate through a historical study of the origins of the Gestapo simulation game.

Purpose/Conclusions: The essay begins with a brief discussion of the Holocaust “uniqueness” claim, through which the author introduces a new trichotomous interpretive framework. This framework offers a critique of previous discussions on Holocaust uniqueness and pedagogy, which tend to conflate the various elements of the uniqueness claim or, place the conflicting views along a single continuum. Using this framework, the author explores the cultural and curricular context from which the Gestapo game emerged, demonstrating how its theory and design were aligned with much of the emerging Jewish educational thinking of the time. The author argues that the curriculum was the work of an educator who was informed by the current research and was responsive to the contemporary needs of his students and community.

Research Design: This essay is written from the perspective of history and was based upon the long-established methodology from the field of historiography.


In 1969 a student demonstration erupted outside the General Assembly of Jewish Federations in Boston. The young protesters denounced the current state of Jewish education and demanded a curriculum that was more relevant to their lives. One of the conference attendees was Rabbi Raymond Zwerin from Denver, Colorado. He recalled how the students were decrying the lack of significant Jewish educational material for the Jewish school. The Rabbi translated the student protests into a mandate to develop new educational materials that would speak more directly to Jewish student concerns. When he returned to Denver, he worked with Audrey Friedman Marcus, a sixth grade religious school teacher, to form the Alternatives in Religious Education (ARE) Publishing Company, dedicated to designing cutting edge educational materials for interested teachers.1 One of their first projects together was their controversial Gestapo Holocaust simulation board game, which was published in 1976. The game would soon be implemented, not only by Jewish teachers, but also by certain public school teachers covering the Holocaust with non-Jewish students.

Although over thirty years have passed, the Gestapo game is still being taught and continues to be a source of controversy. In 1993 the authors of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museums (USHMM) Guidelines for Teaching about the Holocaust explicitly denounced the Gestapo game approach, writing, Even when great care is taken to prepare a class for such activities, simulating experiences from the Holocaust remains pedagogically unsound.2 In 2000 Samuel Totten, who co-wrote the USHMM guidelines, insisted that simulations represent a drastic over-simplification of Holocaust history.3 However, not all researchers agree with such an assessment. Based on her ethnographic study of a teacher who implemented a unit based on Zwerins Gestapo game, researcher Simone Schweber questioned Tottens a priori conclusions about the affect of simulations on students. Despite her initial reservations, Schweber discovered that the simulation was highly effective at transmitting the historical particularities of the event, as well as forcing students to wrestle with its moral implications.4 Miriam Ben-Peretz immediately challenged Schwebers evaluation, suggesting that the described simulation dictated the learning outcomes of the students, distorted the emotional trauma of the victims, and ignored the indispensable historical context of anti-Semitism.5 Schweber responded to these comments by aligning Ben-Pertz and Totten with adherents of the Holocaust uniqueness claim such as Elie Wiesel. Schweber expressed how she considered the implications of the unique stance knotty.6

As we can see, the controversy surrounding Holocaust simulations is far from resolved, and it is embedded within a larger debate about Holocaust uniqueness. In this essay, I inform this debate through a historical study of the origins of the Gestapo simulation game. I begin with a brief discussion of the Holocaust uniqueness claim, through which I introduce my own trichotomous interpretive framework. I offer this framework as a critique of previous discussions on Holocaust uniqueness and pedagogy, which tend to conflate the various elements of the uniqueness claim or, place the conflicting views along a single continuum.7 Using this framework, I explore the cultural and curricular context from which the Gestapo game emerged. I demonstrate how the design of Gestapo was aligned with much of the emerging Jewish educational theory of the time. The curriculum was the work of an educator who was informed by the current research and was responsive to the needs of his students and community.



The uniqueness of the Holocaust has been at the center of the debate about how to represent the event properly in memorial and popular culture. The term unique has been used with various meanings. For some unique has meant that the Holocaust is an event that should be treated like no other, requiring a specific set of rules and restraints. For others, unique has meant that the Holocaust was a specifically Jewish event and can only be understood in Jewish terms. It was this view that led Elie Wiesel, the most widely read Holocaust survivor and vigilant protector of the uniqueness claim, to protest, they are stealing the Holocaust from us.8 The they to whom Wiesel was referring were the other minority groups who were also persecuted and murdered by the Nazis in the Second World War. These groups were seeking their own inclusion and access to the moral capital of the Holocaust. Comments like Wiesels demonstrate how the representation of the Holocaust in America has proved to be controversial on cultural and historical grounds. The uniqueness claim has been used in protest over so many Holocaust issues that, at times, it is difficult to decipher its true meaning. In this section I will unravel the different uses of this term.

I suggest that the uniqueness claim has three elements; metaphysical, historical, and definitional. When someone like Elie Wiesel refers to the Holocaust as unique, he is asserting all three elements of the claim. But, on the other hand, when someone like Lucy Dawidowicz suggests that the Holocaust is unique, she is referring only to the final two elements. The metaphysical uniqueness claim stirred up the most controversy for those Americans, Jewish and non-Jewish, who have attempted to portray the Holocaust in popular media or memorial.

 Those who assert the metaphysical uniqueness of the Holocaust are often referred to as particularists. They have suggested that the Holocaust exists as a sacred mystery with a spiritual significance that can never be fully grasped or comprehended. According to Alan Mintz, particularists approach the Holocaust as a radical rupture in human history that goes well beyond notions of uniqueness&[into] a dimension of tragedy beyond comparisons and analogies& [and that] ...any cultural refractions of the Holocaust are often antithetical to its memory.9 This view often renders the Holocaust as a mystical event that must be approached with reverence. Any encroachment on this reverence is considered a betrayal of the Holocaust victims. Emil Fackenheim voiced this view as early as 1970 at a conference in Jerusalem: A Jew knows about memory and uniqueness. He knows that the unique crime of the Nazi Holocaust must never be forgottenand, above all, that the rescuing for memory even a single innocent tear is a holy task.10 In 1977 at a conference in San Jose, Fackenheim argued that denying this type of uniqueness would insult the dead.11

Elie Wiesel echoed this view in 1978 in his criticism of NBCs Holocaust miniseries. Invited by the New York Times to review the show, he offered a scathing response in which he reinforced his uniqueness view, writing, the Holocaust is not just another event. This treats the Holocaust as if it were just another event&Whether a culmination or aberration of history, the Holocaust transcends history.12 That same year in an article that appeared in Social Education, Wiesel confessed I do not know how to teach these matters&something happened there, something theological, metaphysical, something transhistorical and historical. I cannot comprehend them.13 For particularists the Holocaust can never enter into the realm of complete comprehension.

Naturally, particularists object to any fictionalized portrayal of the Holocaust in film or literature by those who did not directly experience the event. Artistically, they believe the Holocaust should be approached only in non-figurative language, and any representations should be void of the author/artists persona interjecting between the event and representation. To use special effects and gimmicks to describe the indescribable, Elie Wiesel wrote in his NBC Holocaust review, is to me morally objectionable.14 For Wiesel, any artistic attempt to depict the Holocaust in popular culture can only trivialize it.

Those who assert the metaphysical uniqueness of the Holocaust are offended when the Holocaust is compared to any other historical mass atrocities or moral transgressions against humankind. They think the Holocaust should not be embedded in a history of genocide, but rather framed in a specific Jewish narrative or meta-narrative. They suggest that the Holocaust was not the result of a universal racism or bigotry, but rather the result of a specific form of European and German anti-Semitism. Daniel Jonah Goldhagen argued in his international best-selling Hitlers Willing Executioners that the Holocaust was merely a result of the Nazis unleashing this pent-up German anti-Semitism, a thesis that has been dismissed by many scholars as too simplistic.15

Epistemologically, particularists feel that the Holocaust can never be represented accurately or even fathomed by those who did not experience it first hand. Straight historical accounts often fail to access what Saul Friedlander identifies as deep memory, that which remains essentially inarticulable and unrepresentable, that which continues to exist as unresolved trauma just beyond the reach of meaning and void of any redemptive quality.16 It is this deep memory that certainly cannot be reached by artistic representations, but also cannot be accessed by traditional historical representations. Such views have sparked debates on whether the Holocaust requires a specific set of rules for its historical study.17

Scholars asserting the historical uniqueness of the Holocaust also suggest that it was a singular historical event, the likes of which has never before existed. But these scholars will not go so far as to assert that the Holocaust is transhistorcical, holy, or mystical; the event can and must be depicted in historical, secular terms.18 Nonetheless, the Jewish experience in the Holocaust is historically unprecedented. In other words, even if the Holocaust can somehow be represented (a claim particularists deny), it should not be compared to other historical events such as the Turkish murder of Armenians during WW I, the Soviet atrocities under Stalin, nor, as was particularly relevant in the 1970s, the Vietnamese massacre by Americans at My Lai. For example, historian Deborah Lipstadt exclaims, To suggest that disastrous U.S. policies in Vietnam&were the equivalent of genocide barely demands response.19 Such comparisons may not be offensive, like the particularists assert, but they are historically inaccurate.

Historians have devoted pages of research to assert the historical uniqueness claim. In The Holocaust in Historical Context, Steven Katz argues the case for the Holocaust being dissimilar in essential and significant characteristics from any other acts of group atrocity.20 Emil Fackenheim states the case for the historical uniqueness of the Holocaust within the framework of genocide, a term that he concedes can also be applied to the Armenians, but as a case of the class: intended, planned, and largely successful extermination, [the Holocaust] is without precedent and, thus far at least, without sequel.21 He attributes its uniqueness to the scholastically precise definition of the victims [the Jews], the judicial procedures procuring their [German] rightness, the technical apparatus for human annihilation, and most importantly, a veritable army of murderers.22 The historical uniqueness doesnt necessarily lie in the victims, since one should not compare degrees of suffering, but rather in the perpetrators. The Germans were unique enough writes Avishai Margalit and Gabriel Motzkin, because, more radically than anyone else in the last millennia, they denied the idea of a common humanity both theoretically and practically. They embodied this denial of humanity in the way in which they fused humiliation and extermination in their ridding the world of Jews.23 Such classification works on the assumption that the Holocaust was not just another atrocity but the most extreme in the history of man, or as historian Yehuda Bauer argues, there are gradations of evil&the Holocaust thus appears as an extreme and unique case.24


Of course, not all Jewish historians have subscribed to the historical uniqueness argument. Peter Novick, author of The Holocaust in American Life, offers a critical perspective on how certain American Jews have used the Holocaust for political purposes. He writes, the very idea of uniqueness is fatuous, since any event-a war, a revolution, a genocide-will have significant features that it shares with events to which it might be compared as well as features that differentiate it from others.25 Not only is Novick convinced that the Holocaust can be represented just like any other historical event, but he feels that the position put forth by certain Jewish leaders has characterized Jews as intent on permanent possession of the gold medal in the Victimization Olympics.26 In her book Reading the Holocaust, Inga Clendinnen has taken more a subtle approach to critiquing Holocaust uniqueness. Her book aims to dispel the Gorgon effectthe sickening of imagination and curiosity and the draining of will which afflicts so many of us when we try to look squarely at the persons and processes implicated in the Holocaust.27 To overcome this effect, she suggests that it is not enough to loathe the perpetrator and to pity the victim&We must try to understand them both.28 Indeed anyone who partakes in the writing of history and moves beyond the mere chronicling of events is making an attempt to understand it.


Finally, there has been a great deal of public debate surrounding the definitional uniqueness of the Holocaust. Does the Holocaust refer solely to the murder of Jews, or does the term include the other victims of Nazi persecution such as Gypsies, homosexuals, Russian POWs, Poles and other Eastern Europeans? Lucy Dawidowicz has distinguished the special case of the Jewish experience from that of other Nazi victims. She points out that compared to other groups the European Jews lost two-thirds of their population, and that the murder of the Jews and destruction of communal existence were, in contrast, ends in themselves, ultimate goals to which the National Socialist state had dedicated itself.29 She points out the destroying the Jews was actually counterproductive to the strategic gains of the Nazis.

The debate over who should be included in the definition of the Holocaust became most relevant with the formation of the Presidents Commission on the Holocaust in 1978, which was essentially given the task to formulate an official American interpretation of the Holocaust. This pitted Elie Wiesel, who wanted the museum to be exclusively Jewish, against the Presidential representatives, who wanted a more inclusive definition. In his Report to the President issued in September 1979, Wiesel stressed the Jewish core of the atrocity. He wrote millions of innocent civilians were tragically killed by the Nazis. They must be remembered. However, there exists a moral imperative for special emphasis on the six million Jews. While not all victims were Jews, all Jews were victims.30 As representatives from the other persecuted minorities questioned Wiesels interpretation, he cast himself as the guardian of the Jewish Holocaust victims, whose memory, he asserted, was under assault by those who wanted to stretch the boundaries of the event for their own political purposes.31

Scholars frequently describe and respond to Holocaust uniqueness in their consideration of different elements of the event. Most of them respectfully refute the metaphysical uniqueness aspect. The same has been true of curriculum designers. Virtually all the Holocaust curricula designed and adopted in America violate at least one aspect of the uniqueness claim. Some have considered this an unavoidable consequence of the Americanization of the Holocaust.32 While this may be true, designing Holocaust memorials should not be confused with designing Holocaust curricula. The teachers who designed these curricula were not interested in establishing a fixed interpretation of the event meant to resonate with an entire nation. Rather. they were interested in using history to achieve their education objectives with their particular students. As we shall see, the uniqueness debate did not emerge spontaneously, but instead grew out of a pedagogical debate about how to present the event to Jewish students in a meaningful way. The uniqueness claim emerged as the Holocaust shifted to the center of both the Jewish consciousness and educational agenda.


Postwar Jewish education in the United States took several different forms ranging from full-time Jewish day schools to summer camps, and it incorporated the full range of Jewish movements such as Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist Judaism. By the end of the century, the Jewish community had spent close to $1.5 billion on an educational system that included over three thousand schools.33 Its teachers ranged from full-time employees to part-time volunteers. Rabbi Zwerin described what he called the paradigmatic Jewish teacher in the 1960s. She had a college education, but had been a housewife for 15 years. Her youngest child no longer needs every minute of every day, and so she [had] a little time to teach on Saturday or Sunday.34 Nonetheless, there were also full-time Jewish schoolteachers who contributed to educational journals and designed curriculum, but often their work was not widely distributed. Overall, American Jewish education was decentralized and diverse, so it is no surprise that there was a range of ideas on the teaching and meanings on the Holocaust.

 Historically, the teaching of the Holocaust in Jewish schools mirrored the role of the Holocaust in Jewish life. Accordingly, in the 1950s, Jewish educators concentrated on the heroic elements of the event as a means of instilling a positive identity in their youth and repairing their fragile Jewish pride. One educator suggested that the purpose of Jewish education was to develop an attitude of ready acceptance of the facts of ones Jewishness&[so that] Jews understand and accept their Jewishness as a positive value.35 In this context, the Holocaust was referred to indirectly and ambiguously, but never confronted directly as a catastrophic event. In the early 1960s, this began to change. The capture and trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann awoke the memories of Jewish suffering and victimization and shifted the Holocaust towards the center of Jewish consciousness. The trial also sparked a general frustration among older Jews about the lack of concern and knowledge of the event by younger Jews. Rabbi Zwerin summarized the attitude of the generation who witnessed the Holocaust in the following way, We all know [about the Holocaust]&therefore, lets not worry about it& sooner or later they [the next generation] will get it through osmosis. By the early 1960s, Zwerin explained, survivors realized that this osmosis was not happening.36 Also, by this time, the historiography on the Holocaust was beginning to expand. Raul Hilbergs Destruction of the European Jews in particular outlined the enormous scope of the Holocaust. Hilbergs study sparked a greater interest in transmitting the facts of the event, which had previously been considered inchoate and incomprehensible. These reasons led to an intense interest by certain Jewish educators in teaching the Holocaust in its entirety to Jewish youth.

When considering American Jewish educators, it is important to understand that many teachers identified themselves as both American and Jewish and would have prioritized their identities in that order. Likewise, many Jewish educators considered themselves teachers first and Jews second. Their religious faith did not supercede their ideas about effective teaching, nor did it impact their ideas about how to deliver the content in the most meaningful way. In one of the earliest articles on teaching the Holocaust, Meir Ben-Horin explained this point, Jewish education is Jewish education&it shares with non-Jewish education anywhere in the world the obligations of education as a unique, specific, society-directed process&of deliberate intervention in human growth and human conduct.37 Therefore, Jewish teachers were influenced, indirectly or directly, by the educational reforms taking place in the public schools.


In particular, certain Jewish teachers were influenced by an emerging body of theory and research, which centered on the domain of students values, emotions, and identities. The political and social upheavals of the 1960s inspired many educational researchers to re-evaluate the goals of the standard curriculum. Relevance became the educational buzzword of the day. Lawrence Kohlbergs cognitive-developmentalism and Louis E. Raths values clarification provided an impetus to this movement by providing competing theoretical moral frameworks for exploring areas of value conflict in the classroom. As the next section will explain, this curricular zeitgeist inspired many Jewish teachers to look for new approaches to teaching Jewish history.38


The 1960s also marked a turning point towards the Holocaust for many Jews and Jewish educators. They shifted their attention from the selective interpretation of the Holocaust as a heroic event to a more inclusive interpretation of the Holocaust as a catastrophic rupture. A 1961 article by Meir Ben-Horin reflected this turn. He suggested that it was no longer adequate to tell only part of the Holocaust story. Concentrating on the heroic aspects of the event, he argued, was an effort to apologize, to falsify through unwarranted prettification of the record. Instead students needed to be confronted with facts of the destruction. Concentrate on the data he pleaded. Before one can draw conclusions or even pose educated questions, he argued, the complete scope of the destruction needed to be transmitted, No Jewish education is Jewish education that fails to enlighten its learners on extermination camps and trains and vans, on illegal ships and marches and flights...when it fails to provide opportunities for frank, penetrating, critical exploration of the issues involved. Ben-Horin expressed how teachers had a responsibility to enlighten their students with the entire truth, no matter how dark the reality may be. Teachers should draw upon the new historiography, published memoirs, and survivor testimonies to pass along the facts, so that the intellectual conclusions to be reached by learners belong to them alone and the evidence. He stressed scientific objectivity and emotional detachment when approaching the event.

But, not all Jewish teachers agreed with this orientation. In 1964, at its 37th Annual Conference, the National Council for Jewish Education hosted a symposium on the Shoah and the Jewish School (shoah is the Hebrew term for holocaust). The symposiums three participants demonstrated how, from its inception, there were divergent views on how to teach the Holocaust to Jewish students. The nature of this argument mirrored debates that had been going on about the teaching of history since the progressive era. This debate pitted traditionalists, who called for the transmission of cultural heritage, against proponents of the social studies approach, who called for thematic units organized around student interests, concerns and problems. While the debate continues unresolved to this day, in the 1960s and 1970s there was a resurgence in the social studies approach, which had a particular focus on relevant and value-laden material.39

At the conference, Judah Pilch, director of the National Curriculum Research Institute for the American Association for Jewish Education, argued that the time had come for Jewish youth to be confronted with the entire story of Jewish martyrdom, including the recent tragedy, the shoah. He asserted that studying the Holocaust would strengthen Jewish identity and expressed apprehension about students lack of knowledge and concern about Jewish history. If we fail to impress our children with the Jewish struggle for equality, he feared, the marginality of their lives as Jews will become greater from year to year. Pilch echoed a growing concern among Jewish leaders that their assimilationist stance of the 1950s had worked too well. American Jews did not instinctually identify themselves with their Jewish ancestors or with the Jewish people, but rather as Americans of the Jewish faith. Jewish marriages with non-Jews had further eroded the American Jewish identity. Intensive study of the Holocaust, he suggested, may reverse this erosion and may even be one of the best antidotes against intermarriage.40 Pilch aimed to use the Holocaust as means of re-acculturating Jewish youth, and so he stressed the Jewish aspects of the event. While such a position was quite intuitive for Jewish educators, they did not all share his aims. Sara Feinstein, another participant in the symposium, suggested that teachers should emphasize the more universal aspects of the event.

Feinstein was more in tune with the non-Jewish educational research of the time. She quoted John Dewey in her address and asserted that education needed to deal with student values. It is the task of a good educator, she argued, to administer the grit and pain in a manner that will encourage proper attitudes of adjustment. Her view pointed to the growing concern among educators with affective learning. She outlined how the Holocaust had become a topic of immediacy and relevance to our time¬ only in the Jewish field, but in the general field as well. Feinstein compared the Jewish experience of the past to the growing racial prejudice of the present, particularly the discrimination against our fellow Negro Americans. She pointed out how a recent neo-Nazi demonstration in New York City was not directed against Jews at all, but rather against Negroes.41 Her comparison to African-Americans de-emphasized the particular aspects of anti-Semitism and suggested that the Holocaust was the result of a more ecumenical prejudice. Race was the issue in the Holocaust, she asserted, not religion. Her rationale for teaching the Holocaust was not to acculturate Jews (as Pilch agues), or to confront them with their past (as Ben-Horin argues), but rather to speak to the present social conditions- the Dewey-derived idea that was at the very center of the social studies. This was the strand of Holocaust education that would be picked up by non-Jewish educators a decade later. It would also be the approach that traditional Jewish theorists like Rabbi Zalman F. Ury would reject.

Ury was the third participant in the symposium, and he expressed a particularist view on the meaning of the Holocaust and why it should be taught to children. He thought the focus of the Holocaust should be its metaphysical significance in Jewish life. Ury asserted that the Holocaust was not only historically unique, but epistemologically unique; it was a sacred mystery that could never be understood solely through secular, scientific methods. To propose that we can offer a full explanation of the Catastrophe, he argued, is presumptiousness equal to ones claim of understanding the essence of G-d. A purely historical explanation of the Holocaust was not appropriate, it must be treated within the framework of our essential theological concepts&to grasp some of the awesome and mystical implications. He felt that the ultimate lesson of the Holocaust was that the spiritual fiber of the Jewish soul is indestructible. The Holocaust was not the result of a universal strand of prejudice, but rather the result of an anti-Semitism [that] cannot be comprehended.42 Urys particularist approach to the Holocaust divorced the event from its temporal and physical context and placed it in a purely Jewish metaphysical one.

Issac Toubin, executive director of the American Association for Jewish Education, refuted Ury s assertion in an article published that year. The Holocaust, he argued, was not a divine caprice&we should accept it as part of our history and the history of Western civilization&the predictable outcome of mans choice in the eternal struggle between good and evil. Toubin listed a number of lessons to be learned from the Holocaust as a historical event including the universal lesson of the interdependence and equality of man. Like Feinstein, Toubin found comparisons between the Holocaust and the Civil Rights movement apposite. In the midst of our American crisis, he asked, What Jew, understanding the consequences of hatred, can remain indifferent to the plight of the Negro. Educators like Toubin found that the Holocaust could be made relevant to students lives by connecting it to contemporary events, which was a central idea of the social studies.43 In fact, Toubin was not the only Jew who viewed the Holocaust through a social scientific approach.

In 1968 Dr. Israel Charny, a clinical psychologist. did not view the events of the Holocaust as a specifically Jewish problem at all. Instead he considered it one more episode in mans largely unrecognized history as a still primitively-evolved animal who is given to wanton murder. Charny stressed the affective nature of learning about the Holocaust, as children inevitably learn a good deal about these impulse forces that lurk within them. He specifically attacked the stick to the facts traditional approach that failed to address the emotional dissonance that the Holocaust created. To leave sterile facts of our history books as the only thing we teach our children, he argued, is to fail to encourage an emotionally meaningful or anxiety-responsive experience. He suggested that educators might try to learn how to invite children to tell their feelings&that they find themselves experiencing relative to the subject being studied.44 Toubin and Charny demonstrated how the Jewish educational community was not an insular, impregnable group, but rather members of the larger educational community and, therefore, responsive to socio-curricular issues and reforms. Just as non-Jewish social studies teachers began to address the Civil Rights movement, the affective domain, and student values, so did their Jewish counterparts. More importantly, Charny suggested that the Holocaust could be used to challenge students assumptions and possibly change their future behavior.

Similarly, in 1968 Herman Blumberg called for a Holocaust curriculum that was immediately accessible to student needs, away from the innocuous and the irrelevant to the burning questions of Jewish youth who seek a proper path through the turbulent last decades of the 20th century. He implored teachers to avoid the mire of facts and to curtail this pre-occupation with the past. Instead, he argued, teachers should concentrate on the genuine, valid questions of Jewish youth. He thought the Holocaust should be used to stir up an emotional response in students, so they can touch and feel and taste the dark days and burning nights.45 While the idea of centering the content on student concerns had been a crucial part of the social studies for decades, the pre-occupation with students emotional response was a fairly new educational phenomenon. The social upheaval in American culture in the late 1960s, more so than any Jewish or Israeli events, inspired Jewish teachers to consider their students values and emotions. Many teachers, Jewish and non-Jewish, felt a responsibility to address emerging student worries.

On the other hand, certain leaders continued to insist that the epistemological uniqueness of the Holocaust needed to be explained to Jewish youth. In 1968, Emil Fackenheim attacked the notion of attributing the Holocaust to a universal prejudice. The most common defense mechanism of the majority of modern Jews, he complained is equating the Holocaust with the problem of evil in general. But the Holocaust was a unique event&the death of those Jews was unique.46 Similarly, Alan Bennett asserted the Holocaust is by its very nature, indescribable.47 Norman Broznick took this view a step further in 1974, explaining the mystical relationship between the forces of God, the Jewish people, and the Holocaust. He suggested that European Jews might have brought the destruction upon themselves. God chose to punish them collectively because of their eroding Jewish faith. The estrangement from God on the part of various European Jewries, he wrote which continued to grow deeper with the passage of time, is the root cause of the calamitous events. He argued that the Holocaust needed to be integrated into the teaching of prophets, with the holocaust used as a parallel to certain prophesies of doom.48 This opinion prompted the response of Marvin Spielgelman, who objected to Broznicks suggestion that the Holocaust was a form of divine retribution. He considered this assertion blasphemous&an aberration and a horror. He then shared an anecdote about a Jewish teenager who was taught that the Holocaust occurred because married women in Europe did not cover their hair, as mandated by Jewish law. He found such teachings irresponsible and potentially harmful to Jewish self-esteem.49 This particularist view of the Holocaust was not representative of mainstream Jews, but because of the high profile of particularists like Elie Wiesel, their approach often received a disproportionate amount of attention.

By the early 1970s, the position of the Holocaust in the Jewish community and curriculum was disputed. There was a range of views. Traditionalists like Ben-Horin and Roskies thought the historical facts of the Holocaust should be transmitted in their entirety. One should view the event in a detached, scientific manner. Feinstein, Blumberg, and Charny suggested that the event needed to be viewed in a way that would be more relevant to student concerns, either by connecting the facts of the Jewish destruction to the emerging Civil Rights movement or by analyzing the Holocaust through a lens of mans inherent propensity for evil. These behaviorist approaches emphasized the universal and ahistorical aspects of the event, at the expense of the Jewish and historical particularities. Finally, particularists like Fackenheim, Wiesel, and Broznick argued that the Holocaust should be taught as an incomprehensible sacred mystery. It was in this curricular context that Zwerin and Marcus considered how to present the Holocaust to children in an engaging and accurate manner.


Despite the substantial literature on the Holocaust in Jewish journals, the topic was still not being covered universally by the early 1970s, due to the decentralized nature of Jewish education. As late as 1974, Jewish leaders were deploring the lack of knowledge and understanding among Jewish youth about the Holocaust.50 Part of the reason for this apparent lack of interest by Jewish youth, Rabbi Raymond Zwerin suggested, was the pathetic state of available Jewish educational material. Until the late 1960s, he explained religious texts had the look of the late 1940s&history textbooks [consisted] of black and white stuff, written for their grandparents&by a generation of assimilationists. Rabbi Zwerin was ordained in 1964 at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati and later founded Temple Sinai in Denver, Colorado. He became highly active in local Jewish community and helped found the Babi Yar Park Holocaust Memorial in Denver. Audrey Friedman Marcus had been active for years in the Jewish educational community by leading workshops and designing modern curricular materials. When Zwerin and Marcus created ARE in 1973, they aimed to design educational materials that were succinct, interesting&educationally sound and self-motivating by integrating some of the new techniques that came out in Christian and public schools, such as the beginnings of values-clarification.51 Their first project together was a series of pamphlets on Jewish holidays, traditions, and community. Soon ARE designed dozens of lessons, covering the whole range of Jewish education. The lessons were specifically aimed at part-time teachers with more passion for the job than knowledge, who didnt have the time to develop their own materials. Two of AREs earliest projects were mini-courses that specifically addressed the Holocaust in creative ways, The Holocaust: A Study in Values and Gestapo: A Learning Experience About the Holocaust. Both these mini-courses took an affective curricular approach to teaching the event.52

A Study in Values was designed to explore the moral complexities of the Holocaust period. The curriculum was centered on fictional interview transcripts of German bystanders and perpetrators who lived through the Holocaust years. The course objectives stated that the participant would be able to express in his or her own words some of the attitudes and positions vis-à-vis moral issues which were held by many of the German people. Students were asked to consider each case study individually and, after group deliberation, decide on the characters guilt. For example, one case included Has Brenner, a supervisor of an electro-welding shop who oversaw several Jewish laborers. Brenner was primarily concerned with meeting production quotas, a goal that relied upon the intensive, unpaid work of Jews. The character denied any knowledge of Jews being killed by the Nazis. I personally did not see any of them die. Some collapsed on the job and were carried away. I do not know whether they died or not. He also denied any feelings of guilt. Why should I? he explained There was nothing I could do about it. If the Jews did not receive pay for their work, that was their problem. If they did not work hard, that was our problem, because our bonuses would be less. After considering the facts of the case in regards to international and Jewish law, students were expected to reach a verdict for each fictional participant.53 The curriculum also encouraged students to compare the moral dilemmas of Germans and Jews who lived during the Nazi period to dilemmas facing contemporary Americans. In fact, each case study was accompanied by discussion questions that addressed contemporary /universal issues. The questions for the Case Against Hans Brenner suggested that students consider issues of discrimination (sex, age, minority), the right to demand certain benefits for past inequities (affirmative action, quota systems) and unfair labor practices (slavery, child labor, sweat shops). Students attitudes and values would be brought out through discussion. The teachers guide also provided extensive historical background for each case study, which the teacher was expected to share.

A Study in Values was designed to transmit the historical facts of the Holocaust period by using the fictional case studies as representations of the larger Nazi bureaucracy. The curriculum avoided large generalizations about the victims and perpetrators, thus, avoiding the simplistic narrative of good vs. evil. When viewed on the individual level, it was clear that many Germans acted in the muddy area between these extremes. Even in the Holocaust, ideals of morality, according to the Rabbi Zwerin and Marcus, were more complicated than many Jewish textbooks had implied. Still, the curriculum authors were not suggesting that students adopt a view of moral relativism. They suggested that students consider international and Jewish law to judge the guilt of these fictional characters. The objectives asked students to employ some of the moral dictates of the Jewish tradition in determining the guilt or innocence of representative individuals who lived during the time of the Nazi era. This affective approach would not only help student to clarify their values, but also make the events of the past relevant to the moral ambiguities of the present. Students were encouraged to apply the moral dictates they learned from the Holocaust to contemporary events.54

The Study in Values curriculum was designed to stand alone as students only exposure to the Holocaust, but the authors suggested that the mini-course be followed by the Gestapo game. The Gestapo game was a Holocaust simulation that covered the years 1933 to 1945 in a chronological manner. The game could accommodate up to a thousand players, depending on how many boards and value markers were purchased. Each player received a Gestapo Value-Board containing the following categories: house, community, life, income/job, pride, family, religion, and civil liberties. Students were given three value markers for each category. As the leader read a card describing an event from the Holocaust, students had to risk one of their value markers on each turn. Depending on what appeared on the card, players would either lose or keep their value marker. For example, one card read Mass deportation of Jews begins. As yet there are no killing centers, so large masses of Jews are rounded up and placed in already existing crowded ghettoes. Those players who risked either their community, house, pride, or family markers would have lost it on that turn. The leaders cards progressed chronologically and accurately through the incremental events of the Holocaust. The cards were color-coded into three periods:


White: 19331938, during which losses in income/job, civil liberties, pride and community were sustained by the Jews, due to the passage of debilitating laws;



Blue: 19391941, the ghettoization and deportation phase; and


Pink: 19421945, the Final Solution.

Players were given the opportunity to trade cards and occasionally escape opportunities would arise. When a player lost all of his/her life cards, he/she was outa victim of Gestapo. The resulting percentage of survivors was designed to approximate that of the actual Holocaust. Those who survived the Gestapo game would be those who took great risks early in the game, because Sometimes you have to throw yourself into it whole-heartedly, Rabbi Zwerin explained, to stop a process. In all aspects the game was designed to provide a realistic representation of how the Holocaust transpired and the value decisions that the victims had to make.55

After the game ended, the curriculum suggested that the teacher initiate a discussion of several relevant issues, such as Are there places in the world where situations exist that are potential Holocausts? What can you do to prevent these situations from growing into a Holocaust? and Do you think your civil liberties are violated in anyway in the United States today? Such discussions were meant to trigger affective responses. The games stated objective was for students to state which values they are willing to risk or sacrifice in conflict situations and explain how it was that some people survived both the game and during the Holocaust.56 Thus, students would be putting themselves in the shoes of Holocaust victims and predicting how they may have responded. While such an approach may have seemed like it was trivializing the suffering of Holocaust victims, Rabbi Zwerin claims that he did not receive any objections from Holocaust survivors, some of which had actually participated in playing the game. Not only had they played the game, but ironically, Zwerin explained, survivors are the poorest at surviving it. This was quite logical, the Rabbi argued, since it was sheer dumb luck in most cases that people survived&a time-out place every once in a while, a piece of bread that wasnt expected&that sort of thing that kept people alive another day.57 The Gestapo game attempted to recreate the random nature of the Nazi atrocities, but also demonstrate that the circumstances of the Holocaust stretched ones personal values to the limit. This was the component that was most relevant to students contemporary concerns.

The Gestapo game became popular with Jewish teachers, although it was not AREs best selling item. Through the distribution of Social Studies Services, the Gestapo game managed to reach public school teachers as well. Zwerin estimated that they sold thousands of copies. The best documented case of the Gestapo-based game in a classroom appeared in the above-mentioned ethnography by Simone Schweber, who meticulously described the Holocaust course of Ms. Bess (Schwebers pseudonym), a teacher in a California secondary public school who used Zwerins game as starting point for a semester-long Holocaust enactment in which she served as Hitler and her students as Jews.58 Besss course, however, went well beyond the original intent of Zwerins game. Nonetheless, by the mid-1970s, there was a growing perception that such Holocaust enactments were being implemented. In 1975 Diane Roskies complained The gimmicks which have been devised for emotional commemoration are numerous: In Boston summer camp the older kids staged a pogrom against younger children.59 There is little documentation to confirm such activities, yet a lot of anecdotal evidence suggests that affective and experiential learning techniques like the Gestapo game were gaining ground in the Jewish classroom. In her history of Holocaust education in Jewish schools, Rona Sheramy describes the growing popularity of such activities and even made reference to Zwerins game. A popular method of achieving such identification was through Holocaust reenactments and simulation exercises. Accounts of such activities appeared in Jewish educational magazines and conference reports throughout the 1970s. For example, in 1973, one school described hiring a psychiatrist to set up a confinement scenario for its students. Another school used an exercise called Gestapo which, it claimed, aroused student interest and involvement far more than reading texts.60

The most conspicuous reference to Gestapo appeared in the 1980 New York Times article outlining the new debate on the Holocaust. The article reported how the popularization of the Holocaust following the NBC Holocaust mini-series had compromised the sacredness of the event. Holocaust reenactments were presented as examples of this phenomenon. The writer quoted Max Nadel of the American Association for Jewish Education, saying that turning classrooms into concentration camps was excessive, and presented the Gestapo game as the archetypal example.61 The article even implied that Zwerins game was designed to cash in on the popularity of the event, which, as we have seen, was not the designers original intention. Still, by the late 1970s, Gestapo became a catchphrase for any kind of concentration camp simulation, including those exercises like classroom enactments that expanded upon Zwerins original design. This was likely because these exercises, like the one described by Schweber, often bore the name of Zwerins curriculum without actually following the exact outlines of his game. It is not likely that the above authors who either criticized or referred to the Gestapo game ever actually saw the original curriculum. Nonetheless, references and criticisms of the Gestapo game and other simulation exercises did not abate in the years that followed.

The game would be used as an example of the popularization of the Holocaust that blatantly denied the epistemological uniqueness of the event. Elie Wiesel, the New York Times article suggested, was the leading proponent of this view. The article reported that Wiesel felt that the proliferation of sensitized books and popularized television programs and films has dishonored the victims and rendered the public insensitive to the tragedy. We need, he pleaded to regain our sense of sacredness.62 Making the Holocaust into a game not only denied the sacredness of the event, Wiesel complained, but by suggesting that students could understand what the Holocaust was like denied its existence as an unresolved mystery. Zwerins later defended his curriculum against such attacks. They think games turn the Holocaust into something banal he explained, this particular simulation doesnt turn anything into something banal&its the facts of the Holocaust turned into an experience that people can use to understand what the Holocaust is all about.63 Scholars continued to debate what it means to understand the Holocaust, but the very fact that Zwerins game attempted to transmit any form understanding set him part from his particularist critics.


The Gestapo game was a product of its socio-curricular context. The idea of reproducing the value judgments of the Holocaust victims represented the most extreme example of the affective approach to the teaching of history. But, this approach was not completely out of sync with the mainstream Jewish educational literature of the time. Like their non-Jewish counterparts, certain Jewish educators were freely making connections between the Holocaust and contemporary non-Jewish events. These educators were also promoting a Holocaust curriculum that would speak directly to students values and emotions. Public schoolteachers were also using simulation exercises to teach moral lessons. The most notorious example was that of a midwestern elementary school teacher who pitted her blue-eyed and brown-eyes students against each other in a role-playing exercise designed to teach about prejudice.64 A preoccupation with prejudice, values, and moral behavior permeated the secular educational literature of the time. Rabbi Zwerin even cited the theories of values-clarification as an important influence on the design of his Gestapo curriculum.65 While the increased interest in the Holocaust by Jewish elites was certainly a result of the social upheavals of the 1960s and 70s, this interest was exacerbated by a perceived crisis in the American Jewish community.

Jewish leaders worried that American Jews were over assimilating and acculturating themselves in American life through social mobility and intermarriage. Some suggested that the Americanization of Jews was a silent cancer eating away at Jewish identity with the potential to be more destructive demographically than the Holocaust itself.66 Holocaust education was presented as an antidote to this phenomenon, but educators argued over the root causes of the Jewish crisis, and this, in turn, influenced their pedagogical approach. Jewish particularists, like Wiesel, Fackenheim, and Broznick, considered the secularization of Jewish Americans as the major problem. They thought that emphasizing the spiritual aspects of the Holocaust and stressing the uniqueness of the Jewish narrative in history would inspire students to embrace their Jewish faith more enthusiastically. On the other hand, certain teachers like Rabbi Zwerin thought that this particularist approach was, in fact, the root cause of identity erosion in Jewish youth; the traditional teaching materials were boring the Jewish youth away from their own culture. Zwerin argued that more contemporary materials which spoke to Jews as young Americans would be a more effective way to inspire Jewish identity. If they were interested in the material, they would be more responsive to it. The identity-promoting objectives and affective leaning techniques would reinforce their value commitments. The Gestapo game, the Rabbi hoped, would engage students interest and serve as a springboard for an exploration of their Jewish faith.

Assessing Holocaust curricula for their appreciation of the events uniqueness is not a matter of either/or or to what degree. A Holocaust curriculum can be quite respectful of certain elements while in gross violation of others. The Gestapo game respected two out of three. The curriculum preserved the definitional uniqueness of the event by focusing only on the Jewish experience; it conveyed the incremental steps of the war against the Jews, with no mention of other Nazi victims. The game also preserved the historical uniqueness of the event. It focused solely on the Jewish persecution and did not approach the event as a case study in genocide. Although the discussion questions suggested that students come up with analogous examples of Holocausts in the present, the Jewish persecution was considered the paradigmatic event against which all others must be compared. The metaphysical uniqueness of the Holocaust, however, was violated by the very nature of making a game out of the event. The Holocaust was not presented as a sacred mystery, or unfathomable question, but rather as a historical occurrence that could be grasped like any other.



Raymond Zwerin, phone interview with author, 31 January 2003.


William S. Parsons and Samuel Totten, Guidelines for Teaching the Holocaust. (Washington DC: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1993), 8. In addition to Parsons and Totten, Steven Fineberg, William Fernekes, Sybil Milton, and Sara Bloomfield also contributed to the writing of the Guidelines.


Samuel Totten, Diminishing the Complexity and Horror of the Holocaust: Using Simulations in an Attempt to Convey Historical Experiences, Social Education 64 (2000), 165.


Simone Schweber, Simulating Survival, Curriculum Inquiry 33:2 (2003): 139-188.


Miriam Ben-Peretz, Identifying with Horror: Teaching about the Holocaust- A Response to Simone Schwebers Simulating Survival. Curriculum Inquiry 33:2 (2003): 189-198.


Simone Schweber, A Response to Miriam Ben-Peretz. Curriculum Inquiry 33:2 (2003): 203.


Ibid. For examples of those who conflate the elements of Holocaust uniqueness see Marcia Sachs Littell, Breaking the Silence: A History of Holocaust Education in America, in Remembrance, Repentance, Reconciliation: The 25th Anniversary Volume of the Annual Scholars Conference on the Holocaust and Churches, ed. Douglas F. Tobler (New York: University Press of America, 1998), 195212; Nurith Ben-Bassat, Holocaust Awareness and Education in the United States, Religious Education 95 (Fall 2000): 40323; Samuel Totten Holocaust Education in the United States, in Holocaust Encyclopedia, ed. Walter Lacqueur (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001), 30512.


Paula Hyman, The New Debate on the Holocaust, New York Times, 14 September 1980, F65.


Alan Mintz, Popular Culture and the Shaping of Holocaust Memory in America, (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2001), 38-9.


Quoted in Henry Friedlander, Towards a Methodology of Teaching about the Holocaust, Teachers College Record 80 (Feb. 1979): 524.


Ibid., 524. For more on Fackenheims views see Emil L. Fackenheim, Concerning Authentic Responses to the Holcaust, in The Nazi Holocaust: Perspectives on the Holocaust, vol. 1, ed. Michael R. Marrus (Westport: Meckler, 1989): 68-87.


Elie Wiesel, Trivializing the Holocaust: Semi-Fact and Semi-Fiction, New York Times, 16 April 1978, B1.


Elie Wiesel, Then and Now: The Experiences of a Teacher, Social Education 42 (April 1978): 270.


Ibid., B29.


For a critique of Goldhagen see the Afterword in Christopher Brownings study Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (New York: Harper Perennial, 1993). See also Robert Shandley, ed., Unwilling Germans?: The Goldhagen Debate (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press 1998).


James E. Young, Towards a Received History of the Holocaust, History and Theory 36 (Dec. 1997): 36-7.


Here it is important to make a distinction between those extreme particularists, such as Wiesel, and those more moderate ones like Friedlander. The latter considers issues of how to incorporate the testimonies of survivors (including their metaphysical interpretations) into an overall secular historical framework, whereas Wiesel would consider any secular historical framework inadequate. Traditionally historians consider testimonies of an event (especially emotionally-laden ones) based on memory less reliable than contemporaneous documentation For the sake of clarity, it may be useful to consider Friedlander as a proponent of epistemological uniqueness, but not necessarily metaphysical uniqueness. For a discussion of this debate see Saul Friedlander, ed., Probing the Limits of Representation: Nazism and the Final Solution (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992).


See Dan Magurshak, The Incomprehensibility of the Holocaust: Tightening Up some Loose Usage, and Yehuda Bauer, Against Mystification: The Holocaust as a Historical Phenomenon, in The Nazi Holocaust: Perspectives on the Holocaust, vol. 1, ed. Michael R. Marrus (Westport: Meckler, 1989): 88-117.


Deborah Lispstadt, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory (New York: Plume 1994), 213.


Steven Katz, The Holocaust in Historical Context, vol. 1, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994). For a critique of Katzs thesis, see chapter 5 in Berel Lang, The Future of the Holocaust: Between History and Memory (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1999).


Emil L. Fackenheim, The Holocaust and Philosophy, The Journal of Philosophy 82, (Oct. 1985): 506.




Avishai Margalit and Gabriel Motzkin, The Uniqueness of the Holocaust, Philosophy and Public Affairs 25 (Winter, 1996): 83.


Yehuda Bauer, Extreme and Unique Holocaust, New York Times, 25 October 1977, A38.


Novick, The Holocaust in American Life, 196.


Ibid., 195.


Inga Clendinnen, Reading the Holocaust (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 4.


Ibid., 183.


Lucy Dawidowicz, The Holocaust and the Historians (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981), 13.


Presidents Commission on the Holocaust, Report to the President (Washington, D.C., 1979), ii.


Edward T. Linenthal, Preserving Memory: The Struggle to Create Americas Holocaust Museum (New York: Viking, 1995), 43.


For a small sample of the literature on the Americanization of the Holocaust, see Hilene Flanzbaum, ed., Americanization of the Holocaust (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999); Alvin Rosenfeld, The Americanization of the Holocaust, Commentary 99 (June 1995): 3540; Edward Linenthal, The Boundaries of Memory: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, American Quarterly 46, (Sept. 1994): 40633.


Rona Sheramy, Defining Lessons: The Holocaust in American Jewish Schools (Doctoral dissertation, Brandeis University, 2000), 6-11.


Zwerin, interview with author.


Quoted in Sheramy, Defining Lessons, 29.


Zwerin, interview with author.


Meir Ben-Horin, Teaching About the Holocaust, Reconstructionist 26 (May 5, 1961): 5.


Lawrence Kohlberg, Stage and Sequence: the Cognitive-Developmental Approach to Socialization, in Handbook of Socialization Theory and Research, ed. David Goslin (Chicago: Rand McNally College Publishing Company, 1969): 347-480 and The Cognitive Developmental Approach to Moral Education, in Moral Education&It Comes With the Territory, ed. David Purpel and Kevin Ryan (Berkeley: McCutchen, 1976): 176-195; L.E. Raths, M. Harmin, and Louis Thayer, ed., Affective Education: Strategies for Experiential Learning (La Jolla, CA: University Associates, 1976). For more examples of secular educators interest in affective learning see D.R. Krathwohl, B.S. Bloom, and B.B. Masia, Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook II: The Affective Domain (New York: David McKay, 1964); S.B. Simon, Values and Teaching: Working with Values in the Classroom (Columbus, OH: Charles E. Merrill, 1966).


For more on the link between the affective revolution and the launching of Holocaust education in public schools see the forthcoming Thomas Fallace, The Origins of Holocaust Education in American Public Schools, Holocaust and Genocide Studies.


Judah Pilch, The Shoah and the Jewish School, Jewish Education 34 (Spring, 1964): 163, 164.


Sara Feinstein, The Shoah and the Jewish School, 165, 166.


Zalman Ury, The Shoah and the Jewish School, 168, 170, 171.


Isaac Toubin, How to Teach the Shoah, Conservative Judaism 18 (Summer, 1964): 22, 24.


Israel W. Charny, Teaching the Violence of the Holocaust: A Challenge to Educating Potential Future Oppressors and Victims for Nonviolence, Jewish Education 38 (March, 1968): 15, 16, 22, 23.


Herman J. Blumberg, Some Problems in Teaching the Holocaust, Reconstructionist 34 (20 Dec.1968): 13, 14, 16.


Quoted in Alan D. Bennett, Towards a Holocaust Curriculum, Jewish Education 43 (Spring, 1974): 22.




Norman M. Broznick, A Theological View of the Holocaust: A Traditional Approach for Traditional Jewish Education, Jewish Education 42 (Summer, 1973): 19, 20.


Marvin J. Spiegelman, On the Holocaust and Jewish Education, Jewish Education, 43 (Spring, 1964): 36-7.


Ibid.; Irving Spiegel, Jews Urged to Teach Youth About the Nazi Crimes, New York Times, 2 December 1974, A14; Jewish Body Urges Holocaust Studies, New York Times, 16 June 1975, A6.


Zwerin, interview with author.


Alternatives in Religious Education Publishing Company, About A.R.E. Publishing, http: arepublish.com/about.htm (Viewed October, 29, 2003).


Raymond Zwerin, Audrey Friedman Marcus & Leonard Kramish, The Holocaust: A Study in Values (Denver: Alternatives in Religious Education, 1976), 1,2 ,4.


Raymond Zwerin, Audrey Friedman Marcus, & Leonard Kramish, The Holocaust: A Study in Values- Leaders Guide (Denver: Alternatives in Religious Education, 1976), 7-12.


Raymond Zwerin, Audrey Friedman Marcus & Leonard Kramish, Gestapo: A Learning Experience About the Holocaust (Denver: Alternatives in Religious Education, 1976). I arranged to observe the Gestapo game being played by several volunteer teachers (elementary and secondary) and, in this case, all the participants survived. The players had a basic understanding of the chronology of the Holocaust and quickly realized that they should risk their life markers early on in the game. Anticipating the concentration camps to come, they knew that their lives were at minimal risk early in the game, or at least they knew that the situation would get much worse as the game progressed. Of course, the actual victims of the Holocaust did not have the benefit of this knowledge.




Zwerin, interview with author.


This research originally appeared in Simone A. Schweber, Teaching History, Teaching Morality: Holocaust Education in American Public Schools (Doctoral dissertation, Stanford University, 1998). It was later published as Simulating Survival, Curriculum Inquiry 33:2 (2003) and Making Sense of the Holocaust: Lessons from Classroom Practice (New York: Teachers College Press, 2003).


Diane Roskies, Teaching the Holocaust to Children: A Review and Bibliography (Hoboken, NJ: KTAV Publishing House Inc, 1975), 16. One documented case of a Holocaust-related reenactment was part of the curriculum for Orange County Public Schools in Florida. The activity, entitled After the War and the Election of 2020, had students engage in a mock election of candidates that resembled those who Germans would have voted for in 1933. The objective is to trick students into voting for Hitler, and thus answering the question, How could anyone vote for Adolph Hitler? Martha Doerr Toppin, After the War and the Election of 2020 (Florida Holocaust Resource and Education Center, 1980).


Sheramy, Defining Lessons, 86.


Paul Hyman, New Debate on the Holocaust, New York Times, 14 September 1980, Section 6, Page 65.




Zwerin, interview with author.


This exercise was documented in the short film Eye of the Storm.


Zwerin, interview with author.


Peter Novick, The Holocaust in American Life, (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1999), 184-5.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 109 Number 12, 2007, p. 2642-2665
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 14489, Date Accessed: 10/22/2021 3:45:23 PM

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About the Author
  • Thomas Fallace
    University of Mary Washington
    E-mail Author
    THOMAS D. FALLACE is an assistant professor of education at the University of Mary Washington and a lecturer at the University of Virginia. He teaches elementary and secondary social studies methods courses, and works with student teachers. In addition to Holocaust education, he has written articles on the role of historiography in history teacher education, and the origins of the social studies. His is the author of The Emergence of Holocaust Education in American Schools (PalgraveMacmillan, forthcoming) and “Did the Social Studies Really Replace History in American Secondary Schools?” (Teachers College Record, forthcoming).
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