New bill would establish “Holocaust Education Week”

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A new bill, announced Friday, would establish “Holocaust Education Week,” expanding Holocaust education programs and opportunities in Missouri.  State Rep. Adam Schwadron, R-St. Charles, and Sen. Brian Williams, D-St. Louis County announced the pre-filing of the bill during a visit to the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum. 

New bill would establish “Holocaust Education Week”

Schwardon and Williams chose Friday and the museum for their announcement to commemorate an important event in Holocaust history  on December 17, 1942, Allied nations, including the United States, issued a statement condemning the Nazi mass murder of European Jews. 

“Among the multitude of reasons for sponsoring this bill, a recent 50 state survey showed a disturbing lack of knowledge about the Holocaust among school-aged children,” said State Rep. Schwadron. “By having a dedicated week for learning about the Holocaust in our schools, we can learn from what happened and discourage bigotry and antisemitism from growing.”   

Sen. Williams emphasized the importance of teaching the Holocaust, “Unfortunately, there are still people who try to deny or downplay the Holocaust. As a Black man, I know what it’s like when someone tries to rewrite history to minimize the atrocities committed against your community. History must never be erased. History must be studied, understood, and discussed so that its most horrific acts do not happen again.” 

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Holocaust Education Week

Should this bill be enacted into law, Missouri will join 18 states that require Holocaust education as part of their secondary education curricula. Similar laws in Arkansas and Maine will be implemented in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Currently, Missouri also maintains a permanent Holocaust Education and Awareness Commission, housed under the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  

Representatives Tour Museum Expansion

The legislators met with St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum staff to discuss the bill at the site of the upcoming renovated and expanded Museum. The Museum is currently undergoing a $21 million expansion, quadrupling the size of the former space. It is set to reopen in late summer 2022.  

“We’re grateful to Representative Schwadron and Senator Williams for recognizing the importance of Holocaust education by crafting and pre-filing this bill,” said Helen Turner, the Museum’s Director of Education and Interpretation. “We are currently developing a variety of accessible, free, educational resources, both virtual and in-person, to support Missouri educators in their efforts to share the history and lessons of the Holocaust with their students.” 

Before work on the expansion began, more than 20,000 students from Missouri and surrounding states visited the Museum each year to view the exhibits and hear from Holocaust survivors and their descendants. During construction, students and others can tour the Museum virtually at StlHolocaustMusueum.org. 

To read the entire bill, click here.