School Librarian Reportedly Made Third Graders Re-Enact the Holocaust

The librarian reportedly said the Holocaust happened “because the Jews ruined Christmas.”

Dec 20 2021, 2:12pm

A librarian at a Washington, D.C., elementary school was placed on leave after allegedly forcing a third-grade class to re-enact the Holocaust. She also reportedly told them that the genocide happened “because the Jews ruined Christmas.”

The principal at Watkins Elementary School in southeast D.C., MScott Berkowitz, sent an email to parents informing them of the Friday incident, according to the Washington Post

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One student, who is reportedly Jewish, was instructed to play the role of Adolf Hitler and told to pretend to commit suicide at the end of the lesson, according to a parent who spoke with the Post. Some students were given the role of genocidal Nazis digging graves for classmates. “This included the trains, dying in gas chambers, playing Hitler, and mass graves,” one parent told local station Fox 5 DC. 

The librarian reportedly made the comment about Jews “ruining Christmas” after a student asked why the Nazis carried out the Holocaust, a parent told the Washington Post.

“My husband picked up our child after school and there was a lot of sobbing and crying and distress,” one mother of a student in the class told Fox 5.

The librarian reportedly asked students not to tell anyone about the re-enactment, but they told their homeroom teacher, according to the Post. 

The librarian, who hasn’t been named by the school or district, has been placed on leave pending an investigation by D.C. Public Schools. She told Fox’s D.C. affiliate that “somebody’s misquoting what happened in the library that day,” and that she was “shocked to see [the investigation] myself.” 

A school librarian named by the New York Times as the instructor who initiated the lesson did not immediately respond Monday to a message on social email requesting comment. 

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“I want to acknowledge the gravity of this poor instructional decision, as students should never be tasked to act out or portray any atrocity, especially genocide, war, or murder,” Berkowitz said in the email to parents, which was obtained by the New York Times. “In no way is this lesson supported by the school’s leadership or D.C.P.S. curriculum,” he added.

Berkowitz did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment from VICE News. 

D.C. Public Schools told multiple outlets that it is investigating the matter through its Comprehensive Alternative Resolution & Equity Team, which handles discrimination, bullying, and sexual harassment grievances. 

“Students should never be tasked with acting out any atrocity, especially genocide and war. Additionally, there were allegations of a staff member using hate speech during the lesson, which is unacceptable and not tolerated at any of our schools,” the city’s public schools agency said in a statement to Fox 5. 

“This was not an approved lesson plan, and we sincerely apologize to our students and families who were subjected to this incident,” the school said. 

Tagged:

school, kids, washington dc, holocaust

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