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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.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 109 Number 12, 2007, p. 2642-2665
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 14489, Date Accessed: 8/1/2021 1:37:03 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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