State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and the California Department of Education have launched an oral history speaker series for Holocaust survivors, and are encouraging schools statewide to participate in events.
“We encourage all districts and local educational agencies to consider hosting one of these important events with a Holocaust survivor who lives in their community and wants to share their story,” Thurmond said. “In this current media environment, with so much misinformation online, it’s critical for students to hear the truth first-hand about this horrific time in history.”
Thurmond is the co-chair of the Governor’s Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education. A nationwide survey released in 2020 showed a lack of Holocaust knowledge among adults under 40, Thurmond said. More than one in 10 respondents did not recall ever having heard the word Holocaust, and 63% did not know that 6 million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. Additionally, more than half of those who did know thought the death toll was fewer than 2 million people. Recent surveys indicate that one in five young Americans think the Holocaust is a myth, according to Thurmond.
Educators who are interested in bringing the Holocaust testimonies to their students are encouraged to email [email protected].