Holocaust and Genocide Class important enough to be required

A photo from the former Holocaust and Genocide teacher Mr. Merchant. The photo depicts The bodies of former prisoners piled in the crematorium mortuary in the newly liberated Dachau concentration camp. (Photo courtesy of public domain)

Holocaust and Genocide has been a class at Leesville since 2009, and the class teaches vital information that every student should know. 

Throughout the course, you learn about the different genocides that have happened in history. The class starts with the first modern genocide — the Armenian genocide — and goes all the way up to genocides that are currently happening, such as the Uyghur genocide in China and the genocide by the Sudannesse government against their own people in Darfur (a province in Sudan). 

While in the class, you also learn about the important signs of what leads up to a genocide. These major steps show the average citizen what to look out for in a country that could be in the early stages of genocide. This is obvious to see in the fact that most Americans don’t know that the United States is currently around the 2 stage of genocide against the LGBTQ+ community.

The importance of the class is that it shows students at Leesville the true amount of atrocities that the Nazis committed in the Holocaust. Most people only spend a day on the topic freshman year and just learn that 8 million people die and that 6 million of those people are Jews. But as freshmen, they don’t completely understand how awful these crimes are and even many adults can not wrap their heads around 8 million people. 

The freshmen don’t learn about the extent of the experimentation done by the Nazis such as when Nazis would try to test new drugs for their military that would end in the subjects death commonly Most people in highschool don’t also learn about how at Bergen-Belsen the prisoners were starved to the point that when given food by the British during liberation tens of thousands would later perish because their stomach shrunk so much that when they did eat that food their stomach exploded killing them.

Not only does Holocaust and Genocide focus on the Holocaust but also many other genocides that most people will go their entire lives without knowing anything about such as the Armenian genocide in Turkey. During this genocide, the Armenians where only targeted because the leaders in charge needed a scape goat and in a predominantly Muslim nation it was easy to blame the Armenians who are predominantly Christian. During this genocide, the Armenians wereforced to walk from Turkey all the way to present day Iraq with little food and water. Stories have come out about this genocide of the soldiers forcing kids into piles and stabing the pile until everyone on the outside is dead. Most people will never learn about the atrocities of Turkey because it is not ‘common history.’

Holocaust and Genocide should be a required class because it gives people a new light on just how awful the acts of not only the Nazis are but also governments such as the current Turkish government, or the genocide in Rwanda and the neighboring D.R.C. (Democratic Republic of the Congo). The class also gives its students an idea on what to look for in a government for signs of a possible genocide.


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