International Status of Education on the Holocaust. A Global Mapping of Textbooks and Curricula

How is the Holocaust presented in secondary-level history and social studies curricula worldwide? And how is it conceptualized and narrated in textbooks?

To answer these questions, researchers at the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, in cooperation with UNESCO, have documented and compared historical understandings of the Holocaust found in 272 currently valid curricula from 135 countries, and in eighty-nine textbooks published in twenty-six countries since 2000. The report shows that the Holocaust is represented in broadly shared patterns, which convey recurrent spatial (geographical) and temporal scales, protagonists, interpretive patterns (according to definitions, causes, relativisation, or banalisation), narrative techniques, and didactic methods. At the same time, the report shows how knowledge is de- and recontextualised worldwide, for all countries demonstrate narrative idiosyncracies by emphasizing selective information and the local significance of the event, or by appropriating it in the interests of local populations. According to its authors, ‘the report not only helps us to gain an insight into the status of the Holocaust in educational materials in Africa, Asia, Europe and America, but also provides policymakers with ideas about how to develop literacy concerning the Holocaust and other mass atrocities’.

Copies of the report may be ordered directly from UNESCO or downloaded via the following sites.

Following this project, a further exploration of representations of the Holocaust and other genocides in the curricula, textbooks and pupils’ writings of European countries will begin in the summer of 2016. This study is called ‘The Holocaust and Genocide in Contemporary Education. Curricula, Textbooks and Pupils’ Perceptions in Comparison’, and will be funded by UNESCO.

Project team


Peter Carrier


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