Laws requiring teaching of the Holocaust

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A number of countries maintain laws requiring the presentation of information concerning actions of the government of Germany regarding Jews in its territory during the period of that government's control by the National Socialist (Nazi) German Worker's Party from 1933 to 1945, commonly referred to as the Holocaust. In the United States, laws of this kind are maintained by individual states and typically specify curriculum content and the ages of the pupils to which various portions of the curricula are to be presented.

Many of the particulars of conformance with these laws are specified or influenced by policies and pronouncements of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Holocaust Remembrance, and Holocaust Research. A country's membership in this organization, however, does not necessarily imply any legal mandate within said country regarding Holocaust education.

Laws prohibiting "Holocaust denial" are maintained by many—but not all—of the same jurisdictions that have these laws. These laws apply to individuals and involve criminal punishment and therefore they are in all cases separate statutes.

Nations and U.S. states[edit]

As of November 2013, laws mandating education about the Holocaust were on the books in Austria, France, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, as well as in the American states of California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York.[citation needed] In Pennsylvania, 2014 Act 70, while not yet imposing a mandate, states that schools "may offer instruction in the Holocaust, genocide and human rights violations to students". The Pennsylvania State Board of Education will conduct a study to determine, after the 2016–2017 school year, the number of schools offering instruction over the Holocaust, genocide and human rights violations. If less than ninety percent of schools offer such instruction, the Act states that a regulation will be adopted to require such instruction.[1]

Nation or U.S. state Year enacted Citation Key wording
California 1985 California Education Code Section 51220 Instruction shall provide a foundation for understanding ... human rights issues, with particular attention to the study of the inhumanity of genocide, slavery, and the Holocaust, and contemporary issues.
Illinois 1989 105 ILCS 5/27-20.3 Holocaust and Genocide Study. Every public elementary school and high school shall include in its curriculum a unit of instruction studying the events of the Nazi atrocities of 1933 to 1945. This period in world history is known as the Holocaust, during which 6,000,000 Jews and millions of non-Jews were exterminated. One of the universal lessons of the Holocaust is that national, ethnic, racial, or religious hatred can overtake any nation or society, leading to calamitous consequences.
New Jersey 1991 N.J.S. 18A:4A Every board of education shall include instruction on the Holocaust and genocides in an appropriate place in the curriculum of all elementary and secondary school pupils.

The instruction shall enable pupils to identify and analyze applicable theories concerning human nature and behavior: to understand that genocide is a consequence of prejudice and discrimination: and to understand that issues of moral dilemma and conscience have a profound impact on life. The instruction shall further emphasize the personal responsibility that each citizen bears to fight racism and hatred whenever and wherever it happens.

Florida 1994 F.S. 1003.42(2)(g) The history of the Holocaust (1933-1945), the systematic, planned annihilation of European Jews and other groups by Nazi Germany, a watershed event in the history of humanity, to be taught in a manner that leads to an investigation of human behavior, an understanding of the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping, and an examination of what it means to be a responsible and respectful person, for the purposes of encouraging tolerance of diversity in a pluralistic society and for nurturing and protecting democratic values and institutions.
New York 1994 Education Title 1 Art. 17, Sec. 801 the regents of the University of the State of New York shall prescribe courses of instruction in patriotism (and) citizenship and human rights issues, with particular attention to the study of the inhumanity of genocide, slavery, and the Holocaust, to be maintained and followed in all the schools of the state.
Michigan 2016 P.A. 170 studies curriculum for grades 8 to 12 includes age- and grade-appropriate instruction about genocide, including, but not limited to, the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide. The legislature recommends a combined total of 6 hours of this instruction during grades 8 to 12.


  1. ^ "2014 Act 70 – Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Violations Instruction". Act No. 70 of June 26, 2014. Retrieved November 22, 2016.

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