Poor awareness, rise in antisemitism necessitates more education about Jewish Holocaust of WWII

Bipartisan bill would make K-12 curriculum Nazi genocide of Jews mandatory


OLYMPIA…Senate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, and Sen. Jesse Salomon, D-Shoreline, pre-filed a bill today (Senate Bill 5851) for the 2024 legislative session that would make it mandatory for Washington’s K-12 public schools to teach the Jewish Holocaust curriculum developed by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), in partnership with Seattle’s Holocaust Center for Humanity (HCH).

The bill was drafted as a response to the pro-Hamas demonstrations and rise in antisemitism seen across the nation in the wake of the attack on Israel on Oct. 7. These activities shine a light on a disturbing lack of awareness of the Nazis’ effort to eliminate all Jews and even the belief that the Jews caused the mass genocide referred to by Nazis as “Final Solution.” During many of the recent demonstrations, participants have called for the “One Solution” – a chillingly similar call.

A 50-state survey of people in the Millennial and Gen Z generations found that 63% of them did not know that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust. Nearly 36% thought the death toll was 2 million or fewer. Worse, the survey also found that 11% of the respondents thought the Jews were to blame.

However, the survey found that more than 80% of those surveyed believe that more education about the Holocaust is needed.

The current curriculum schools are encouraged to teach includes instructional materials, best practices and guidelines on the Holocaust and other genocidal campaigns, which have been available on the OSPI and HCH websites since September 2020 and are updated according to changes in the subject matter and associated data on the teaching/learning process.

In 2022, OSPI published a report on Holocaust instruction with recommendations. This bill will be referred to the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee.


Sen. John Braun, R-20

Sen. John Braun:

“The shocking lack of awareness about the worst incident of mass genocide the world has ever seen is unacceptable and must be addressed through mandatory education in Washington’s public schools. No one should be ignorant of what the Jews suffered during WWII, and it should be clear to everyone that they are not to blame for their own mass murder, torture, imprisonment, mistreatment, and persecution. I’ve said before that schools are more worried lately about teaching things that have nothing to do with academics but spend less time educating our kids on the basics. Knowledge of the Holocaust and the understanding that it must never happen again IS basic historical information every American should know. We can help fix this in Washington by joining the more than 20 other states who require a similar curriculum.”


Sen. Jesse Salomon, D-32

Sen. Jesse Salomon:

“We are currently experiencing political attacks on basic democratic norms and principles within our own nation from both ends of the political spectrum.  As someone whose family was deeply and traumatically impacted by the Holocaust, I welcome this bi-partisan opportunity to use the lessons of the past to re- establish norms based on our commonalities and an understanding of the horrors that could arise should we fail this mission. Unless we teach the lessons from the Holocaust, which provide a stark illustration of what could happen, we may fail to prevent its reoccurrence in some form or fashion.”


Summary of Draft S-3512.2/24:

  • Designates April as International Genocide Prevention and Awareness Month.
  • Requires public schools to conduct and promote age-appropriate educational activities that provide instruction, awareness, and understanding of the Holocaust and genocide education to all students during this month.
  • Strongly encourages public schools to offer at least one Holocaust and genocide education stand-alone elective that is available to students at least once during grades 6-12.
  • Directs the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to annually update best practices and guidelines.
  • Requires public middle schools, junior high schools, and high schools to provide instruction on the Holocaust and other examples of genocide and crimes against humanity beginning with the 2027-28 school year when this topic aligns with the social studies learning standards including U.S. history and contemporary world history.