Swedish teacher guide interprets Holocaust as a controversial topic

The Swedish National Agency for Education provides a teaching guide encouraging classroom debate about the Holocaust.

According to the Swedish daily Aftonbladet, the teaching guide provided by the Swedish National Agency for Education encourages teachers to create a classroom debate about the Holocaust, asking the students to look for evidence and put forward arguments about whether the Holocaust took place or not. Supposedly, the guide’s goal is to support the teaching of sensitive issues and controversial topics by using evidence and arguments in a debate and teaching the students how to be critical of sources of information.

The Swedish Jewish community strongly criticises this teaching method concerning the Holocaust, as there is no question about the reality of the extermination of six million Jews by the Nazis; it’s not a topic that can be debated. Seeing that there are true Holocaust deniers, it is dangerous to present the Holocaust as a controversial issue in class.

However, Pernilla Sundström, head of the Agency’s curriculum department, claims, „Many teachers testify that the Holocaust can be such a theme precisely because antisemitism is still present in society. The materials in question are based on the Council of Europe supporting documents ‘Teaching controversial issues’ and ‘Managing controversy.”

The teaching guide was presented merely a week after the case of the Malmö Synagogue and similar antisemitic actions around southern Sweden on the day of the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism. Every country made pledges to combat Holocaust denial, including Sweden. Nevertheless, there was no mention of the new Swedish teacher guide that presents the Holocaust as a controversial topic.