History won't repeat itself

Stacks of books detailing the Holocaust not only opened the minds of readers and teachers, but started an in-depth discussion on the root issue of one of history's most devastating accounts of death — hatred.

Catawba Valley Community College received about 150 classroom sets covering the Holocaust through a grant from the N.C. Council on the Holocaust. CVCC is the only community college in North Carolina to have the instructional collection.

"The unique feature is that it's a regional collection," said Ari Sigal, of Catawba Valley Community College's library.

Sigal said the classroom sets will be housed in CVCC's library where students may use them; however, teachers for grades seven through 12 may check out the books to use in history lessons.

"Teachers will actually be able to use the books in connection with (classroom) teaching," Sigal said. "(The sets) will be adjunct and auxiliary material to give in-depth information about the Holocaust."

Sigal, who is Jewish, said seeing non-Jews with a "passion" to teach the Holocaust is a delight.

"Once I started again (helping improve Holocaust awareness), I realized there are so many people who are not Jewish by birth, but are very committed to teaching about the Holocaust and the universal meaning of the Holocaust. It's been a real eye-opening experience to see people care who are really not the traditional stakeholder, so to speak."

The N.C. Council on the Holocaust made it possible for these books to be available to public school teachers. History books used in school curriculum don't have a lot of space to offer in-depth teaching to students, according to James Andersen, a history teacher and former CVCC student.

Andersen said when he started teaching history, the textbooks used in his classroom mentioned only a couple of paragraphs about the Holocaust. After graduating college and starting his career, he knew the Holocaust had to be explained in great detail for students to understand and to never let something of his caliber happen in the world again.

"(The Holocaust) could've been prevented," Andersen said. "The Nazis didn't do it alone."

Andersen, along with N.C. Council of Holocaust chairman Michael Abramson, said getting to the root of the hate that started the Holocaust is the end of another incident killing millions of people.

Abramson said people are taught to hate.

Explaining a history of the Holocaust helps students to understand the side affects of carrying hatred in the world, said Abramson, who is also the son of a Holocaust survivor.

"We want to educate high school teachers to teach students not to hate," Abramson said, adding teaching students to work together with tolerance for one another is key to a peaceful future generation.

"That's the nature of the Holocaust education today.

"Hatred doesn't end with one group," he continued. "Hatred is consuming and that's the nature of the Holocaust."

Sigal said education on the Holocaust is key to history not repeating itself.

"It's good to have younger people and older people who see the Holocaust in a universal perspective," he said. "We have to be on guard against signs of prejudice and speak up when other governments are doing this."

Nancy Miller, a history teacher and member of the N.C. Council on the Holocaust, was instrumental in getting the classroom sets to CVCC because of the usefulness she's experienced in using the materials to teach students.

"These are accurate and user-friendly resources," Miller said.

CVCC Social Sciences chairman Richard Eller said teaching students about anti-semitism or hate toward Jewish people, brings a deeper understanding to the curriculum.

"We have to build a case for anti-semitism," Eller said. "People get immune in numbers, but we are talking about something not only disrespectful, but awful stories. This has to be brought to students' attention."

Andersen agreed.

"We study the Holocaust to not only remember the victims, but this can and has happened again," Andersen said. "Those events impact us today."

Abramson said the Council is hosting teacher workshops to provide more information on the Holocaust for curriculum purposes.

"We will teach teachers to teach the Holocaust," he said.

Upcoming event:

CVCC's library will host an exhibit on Theodore Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss. Geisel was a German Jewish refugee. The exhibit starts May 10 and continues through the summer months.