Third-Graders Say They Were Told to Reenact Holocaust

Washington, DC, third-graders said that included pretending to dig mass graves
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2021 9:45 AM CST
Librarian Allegedly Had Kids Reenact the Holocaust
People visit the The Memorial For The Murdered Jews of Europe, the so called Holocaust Memorial during snow fall in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021.   (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

An elementary school staffer in Washington, DC, has been put on leave after making a "poor instructional decision." The Washington Post details what allegedly happened at Watkins Elementary School during a Friday library class in which third-graders were supposed to be doing research. Per the New York Times, the librarian instead had them act out Holocaust scenes, including pretending to dig mass graves. This reportedly included designating one student, who is Jewish, as Adolf Hitler; the child was also allegedly instructed to act out Hitler's suicide at the end of the period. Another student's parent says her child was given the role of a passenger on a train to a concentration camp and that he was also told to pretend to shoot people and die in a gas chamber.

The parent also alleged that at one point students asked the instructor why the Germans carried out the Holocaust, and that the instructor responded, "Because the Jews ruined Christmas." The parent added that the instructor allegedly told the kids not to tell anyone about the reenactment, but that they informed their homeroom teacher. The class was subsequently visited by the school’s mental health response team. "I want to acknowledge the gravity of this poor instructional decision, as students should never be asked to act out or portray any atrocity, especially genocide, war, or murder," Principal MScott Berkowitz said in an email to parents. WJLA has Berkowitz's email in full here.

FOX5 DC reports it spoke with the librarian in question, who denies such a reenactment took place. Parents told the station quite the opposite, with one saying the children "are traumatized. One parent said that their child was worried the teacher in question was hiding at their house. Children are having nightmares and generally having a very hard time." (More Holocaust stories.)

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