Since he first spoke about his experiences in the 1990s, Holocaust survivor Ivor Perl has come across a lack of understanding with increasing frequency. Perl was 12 years old when he stepped out onto the ramp at Auschwitz. He has been active in promoting the memory of what happened to Europe’s Jews during the Holocaust across schools in the United Kingdom but now feels that there is no point in continuing to speak about his life.
Perl said the gulf of understanding between himself and the children he talks to is too wide for him to bridge. The pupils he encounters have such a poor understanding of what happened during World War II that his words fall on deaf ears. This is certainly not Perl’s fault. He is an engaging and thoughtful speaker.
Andy Pearce of University College London’s Centre for Holocaust Education is not surprised Perl is disillusioned. His research team, in the world’s largest ever study of its kind, interviewed over 8,000 pupils aged 11-18 in England, where the Holocaust is the only compulsory subject in the national history curriculum. He was shocked to discover that “after 25-30 years Holocaust education is failing to make an impact.”