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Bill To Expand Holocaust Education Advances To Senate Floor

man reads book by wall with names on it.
Alan Diaz
AP Photo

Holocaust history lessons could be expanded in Florida if a bill heading to the Senate floor becomes law. The measure would require teachers to show current examples of antisemitism as well as historical ones, among other requirements. Magda Bader, a holocaust survivor, came to the Capitol this week to support the proposal.

Bader was turning 14 years old when her family was taken to Auschwitz. When they arrived, guards split her family up.

"They kept repeating that we will see each other again. Don't worry. We will see each other, so I let my mother's hand go. I would have gone with her," Bader said.

Instead, Bader held hands with her sister.

"I never, never saw my mother, my father, my sister with her baby after that, and they were immediately killed. Gassed and killed," Bader said.

Bader is almost 90 years old. As she told her story to lawmakers in a committee meeting, she held up a family photo taken before they were sent away.

"I may look like I'm happy and smiling, and I am, but inside me, there is always—every day I think of all the horrors that we went through," Bader said.

After her comments, the room had a moment of silence and then erupted into applause for Bader.

Holocaust education has been mandatory in public schools since 1994. However, a bill heading to the Senate floor would specify what gets taught in those lessons. Teachers would show students current examples of antisemitism and how to prevent it. The proposal's sponsor is Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation). Her plan is aimed at making sure Holocaust education is taught uniformly.

"On the 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust we as a state, and very simply as human beings, have an obligation to ensure this history is not forgotten--to honor the lives lost so that this piece of history may never be repeated," Book said.

Her bill would require each school district to prove it taught Holocaust education with the new standards. The proposal would also make Holocaust Education Week the second week of November. The Department of Education could work with various entities to develop program material. The move for more Holocaust education comes after a Boca Raton high school principal said he couldn't say the Holocaust was real because he was a school district employee. After facing backlash, the district removed the principal.

Robbie Gaffney graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Before working at WFSU, they recorded FSU’s basketball and baseball games for Seminole Productions as well as interned for the PBS Station in Largo, Florida. Robbie loves playing video games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Animal Crossing, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Their other hobbies include sleeping and watching anime.