We must ensure that every single West Virginia public school student receives education about the Holocaust, now more than ever.

Today’s news that 37 people have been fired from the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation following the release of a photo of cadets giving a Nazi salute underscores the desperate need for this type of education.

Let’s be clear: most of those involved in this incident knew exactly who Hitler was. However, some have repeatedly asserted that they were ignorant of the historical significance of the hand gesture and even Hitler’s legacy of mass slaughter.

Sadly, that’s completely believable.

A 2018 study found that 41 percent of young Americans believed that fewer than 2 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust (the real number is closer to 6 million). That same study also found that 45 percent of all Americans could not name a single concentration camp. Two-thirds of millennials had no idea the significance of the name “Auschwitz.”

During the upcoming session, we will advocate for a Holocaust education requirement in West Virginia middle and high schools. We cannot let the session end without making certain that all of our students know about the horrors of the Holocaust and other genocides.

We cannot let the Holocaust fade from our collective memory. 

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