Holocaust Studies in Austrian Elementary and Secondary Schools

  • Philipp Mittnik University of Vienna
Keywords: National Socialism, holocaust education, human rights, victim myth, didactics of history, history textbooks, schooling


This article presents arguments in support of teaching about the Holocaust and Nazism in Austria at an early age. To accomplish this, Austrian and German elementary school textbooks were analyzed for the amount of content dealing with the Holocaust and Jews; the results  showed that since 1980 the amount of content on the Holocaust increased in Germany, and to a lesser extent in Austria.  The article reviews some of the criticism in Europe of  the term Holocaust Education and explores some of arguments about why that is.  The author argues that moral education and teaching of Human Rights are important components of, but ought not be the main goal of teaching about the Holocaust.  The role of Austria after World War II, and exploration of the so called victim myth, prevalent until the 1990s are important to  understanding history and to how history textbooks were created. After a discussion of how the Holocaust can be taught to elementary and early secondary school aged children, some suggestions are made about approaches to teaching the Holocaust to students in these age groups.