A Washington, D.C., elementary school staff member told third-graders in library class to reenact episodes from the Holocaust.
According to The Washington Post, the instructor, who was placed on leave Friday, directed the students to dig classmates’ mass graves and simulate shooting the victims. She also allegedly assigned specific roles to the students, including casting a Jewish student as Adolf Hitler, and instructed the student to pretend to commit suicide, as Hitler did, at the end of the exercise.
Watkins Elementary School Principal Scott Berkowitz emailed the third-graders’ parents, saying that the students were in library class for a “self-directed project they would present to their classmates before winter break,” but, during their allotted research time, the instructor had the students participate in the reenactment.
“I want to acknowledge the gravity of this poor instructional decision, as students should never be asked to act out or portray any atrocity, especially genocide, war, or murder,” Berkowitz wrote.
Another parent said that her son had to pretend to be on a train heading to a concentration camp, act as if he were dying in a gas chamber and act as if he were shooting his classmates.
The instructor also allegedly made anti-Semitic comments, saying that the reason the Germans carried out the Holocaust was that “the Jews ruined Christmas.”
The students told their homeroom teacher after the instructor asked them not to tell anyone about the reenactment. The incident was then reported to D.C. Public Schools’ Comprehensive Alternative Resolution and Equity Team. A spokesperson for DCPS stated that “this was not an approved lesson plan, and we sincerely apologize to our students and families who were subjected to this incident.”
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