As the Witnesses Fall Silent: 21st Century Holocaust Education in Curriculum, Policy and Practice

pp 137-158


Domesticating the Difficult Past: Polish Students Narrate the Second World War

  • Magdalena H. GrossAffiliated withProgram in Writing and Rhetoric, Stanford University Email author 

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A narrative analysis of 53 high school student essays demonstrated that Polish youth still hold deeply ethno-national narratives of World War II. This group wrote about ruin, resistance, and victimization, impervious to the influence of a decade of media and international attention to Polish-Jewish relations and the Holocaust. In general, they tamed and domesticated the World War II past. A subset of responses demonstrated that knowledge of the Holocaust and the Jewish-Polish experience during World War II is present in the form of a budding counter-narrative, or an interpretation that goes against what is commonly believed in Polish society. The implications from this chapter are that school may be one of the most important sources for children to receive new and critical information about a nation’s past.


Jews Holocaust Poland Student narratives Holocaust education World War II