Abraham Cooper and Harold Brackman write that there will soon be no Holocaust survivors left to share their experiences. ("A Holocaust lesson: What was at stake in Rialto was not just the truth of history," Opinion, May 14)
I am a survivor of the Kindertransport who left Berlin at the age of 13 and arrived in London. Later, I was fortunate to come to the U.S. with my mother and father and two sisters.
Recently, I spoke at several schools and at a church in Burbank. I am also going to Berlin this month to talk to young people at the Jewish museum there.
Yes, this is hard for me, but I feel I must do it while I still can. In 1939, my dad took us on the streetcar after Kristallnacht to observe everything. He told us never to forget and to tell the world what happened if we ever got out of that hell.
I have been doing that.
I am Jewish, and 12 years ago I assigned my mostly Latino high school students a project similar to what the eighth-graders in Rialto were told to do: to disprove the Holocaust.
Cooper and Brackman missed the whole point of the assignment.
After my students studied source documents, viewed photos and read Anne Frank, they debated the Holocaust through written essays and mock court trials. They came to a chilling conclusion: that propaganda and deception can run free if not questioned.
In some countries, Holocaust denial is a crime. Those who espouse it have a transparent, dangerous agenda.
Anyone who claims to be an educator and who participated in the writing or teaching of this assignment should be fired for incompetence. Their concept of critical thinking would have me believe that the numbers tattooed on the arm of my Hebrew school teacher were "body art."
Teachers and administrators who would write or allow such an assignment are unfit as educators because they don't understand the nature of a debatable issue: that both sides must have a set of undisputed facts that can be used to argue either side of the issue. A student's level of critical thinking is judged on the basis of a fact-based argument supporting a position.
Since no fact-based data exists for Holocaust denial, this assignment cultivated confused kids.
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