Balls backs primary age Shoah education

By Craig Silver, May 30, 2008

A Holocaust survivor has told Children, Schools and Families Secretary Ed Balls of the importance of educating primary pupils against antisemitism.

Joanna Millan met Mr Balls at the UK Holocaust Centre in Nottinghamshire last Friday where the minister was supporting a forthcoming Holocaust exhibition, The Journey, aimed at primary-age children.

Mrs Millan was born Belo Rosenthal and was brought to England in 1945 after surviving the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. Her mother died in Theresienstadt and her grandfather was killed in Auschwitz.

Ed Balls with Joanna Millan and pupils from Lode Heath School, Solihull

For many years, she has recounted her Holocaust experiences to young audiences.

She told the JC that she had emphasised to Mr Balls that “antisemitism and racism does start at an early age, especially with primary school children. The children I talk to are always very interested in what I have to say and ask a lot of questions, which is important”.

The minister believed “this exhibition will be hugely beneficial to help young children learn about the history of the Holocaust in an appropriate way. But it’s not just about absorbing information — it will also give them a chance to question values, behaviours and attitudes and as such will be an investment in the future cohesion of our schools and communities.”

Holocaust Centre director Dr Stephen Smith stressed: “We will not be telling 10-year-olds about mass execution and gas chambers. Instead we will take them on a journey through history, exploring identity and discussing the values of the world we share.”

Backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Association of Jewish Refugees, The Journey is due to open in September.

Last updated: 5:05pm, June 6 2008