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Portrayals – in educational settings – of the relationship between Britain and the Holocaust.

ADAMSON, DANIEL,EDWARD (2022) Portrayals – in educational settings – of the relationship between Britain and the Holocaust. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF (Daniel Adamson final thesis) - Accepted Version


This thesis offers an original examination of how the intricate British response to the Holocaust has been portrayed in different educational contexts. Learning about the relationship between Britain and the Holocaust has manifest benefits. Exploring the topic can complicate national historical narratives, while mitigating against glorified interpretations of the past. But to what extent has this topic been addressed in schools and museums?
Section I considers the classroom as educational setting. Using both quantitative and qualitative analysis, I analyse textbooks, along with resources produced by the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) and the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMD).
Section II focuses on two burgeoning museums: the National Holocaust Centre and Museum (NHCM) and the Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre (HELC). I study the exhibition content of each setting, whilst my interviews with key staff members provide texture to these outward-facing representations of the Holocaust.
My research finds that portrayals of the British response lacked depth, and rarely encouraged substantial critical reflection. Classroom resources typically dealt with the issue in a cursory fashion, or simplified the topic through its use as a ‘lesson’ for modern society. At the NHCM and HELC, practical constraints limited the extent to which the relationship between Britain and the Holocaust is considered. The centrality of individual survivors to the operations of both museums created internal political pressures to portray the British response in sympathetic terms. However, in both classrooms and museums, these limitations were not necessarily accompanied by triumphalist narratives of British history.
From the fine detail at its heart, this thesis looks outwards. It considers broader issues relating to pedagogy, history, and memory. Centrally, I question the purpose and form of Holocaust education, along with the manner in which societies have negotiated memories of uncomfortable pasts. Fundamentally, in spite of existing sweeping
characterisations of Holocaust memory, my research demonstrates that the groundwork of individual agents is a crucial factor in the transmission of historical interpretations.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Holocaust, Holocaust education, Britain, genocide, education, teaching, learning.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > History, Department of
Thesis Date:2022
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:10 Nov 2022 09:37

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