Review of Voices of the Holocaust, by Perfection Learning. (1999).
Reviewer: Mr. Jan Peczkis
Variable Quality: Contains Misleading “Polish Concentration Camp” Phraseology
My review is from the viewpoint of a professional educator. This book is used in the elementary public school, and, for this reason, it should exhibit the highest standard of factuality and objectivity. It is therefore unfortunate that the author uses the phrase “Polish concentration camp”. (p. 65). These concentration camps were Nazi German camps built in German-occupied Poland. Poles had nothing to do with them–except as inmates. Teachers using this material should point these facts out.
Many topics are presented, often in a disjointed manner. These include pre-WWII Nazi Germany, the Night of the Broken Crystals, the Danish rescue of Jews, the White Rose Movement in Germany, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, etc. There is a chapter on modern neo-Nazi skinheads in Germany. The only deviation from the Judeocentric focus of this book is mention of the 1990’s events in Bosnia.
Many of the student activities in this book have as their objective the identification and elimination of prejudices. However, the timeline that is presented in this book of past prejudices against Jews creates a distorted “snapshot collection” view of history, and one that implies that only Jews experienced prejudices in the past, or that prejudices against Jews had been special in some way. In addition, the timeline creates the impression that past events against Jews were cumulative in nature.
The educator contemplating using this book should consider the fact that, in contrast to the 5-6 million Jews, 100 million to 200 million people perished worldwide, in the 20th century alone, from genocide and state-sponsored murder. A book such as this one, with its narrow Judeocentric focus, cannot begin to do justice to the millions of non-Jews who perished from genocide, and is therefore not a good choice for the classroom.