Holocaust Education in British Society and Culture

  • Kara Critchell

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

Moving away from traditional encounters with Holocaust education in academic research this study explores the role of Holocaust education in the construction and mediation of British historical consciousness of the Holocaust. Following contextual explorations of the role of two of the most dominant symbols to have emerged within the field of Holocaust education since the establishment of the National Curriculum, the Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau, this study closely analyses the way in which each of these Holocaust icons has been represented and utilised within educational programmes promoted by the Holocaust Educational Trust. It is shown that the educational representations of these symbols contribute to the domestication of Holocaust consciousness within a British narrative, reinforcing positive interpretations of British national identity and the benefits of liberal democracy whilst, simultaneously, distancing the crimes committed during the Holocaust from the British public through representing these acts as the very antithesis of what is deemed to be British.

Through such analysis it is demonstrated that Holocaust education, as it exists in Britain today, reflects the British context in which it has evolved whilst illustrating how it has also fundamentally been shaped by this same context. Whilst considering the ways in which these representations both reflect and shape understandings of the Holocaust this study also illustrates that the Holocaust as it exists in popular consciousness, and educational programmes, is being increasingly unmoored from its historical context as the iconic symbols associated with it are becoming gradually dehistoricised as a means of providing relevant “lessons” for contemporary society. As Holocaust educators reach a crossroads in their field and prepare to decide the future shape British Holocaust education will assume this research constitutes a timely contribution to existing knowledge and understanding of how the Holocaust is encountered within the educational sphere and within British society and culture.
Date of Award1 Mar 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Winchester
SupervisorColin Haydon (Supervisor), Tom Lawson (Supervisor) & Alex Maws (Supervisor)

Cite this

Holocaust Education in British Society and Culture
Critchell, K. (Author). 1 Mar 2014

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis