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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