Marc van Berkel in AD: Lessons on Holocaust are often insufficient

What types of lives did the Jews live before World War II? And which roles did the Dutch police forces and other authorities play in the persecution of Jews? These and other questions are hardly or not being answered in Dutch history textbooks, according to PhD candidate Marc van Berkel. He studied and compared fifty years of narrating the Holocaust in history textbooks for upper secondy education in North Rhine Westphalia (Germany) and the Netherlands. The Dutch newspaper AD interviewed him about his research.

Some of the textbooks Van Berkel has studies

For his research, Van Berkel turned to the History Didactics Collection of the University Library. This unique collection, which the Center for Historical Culture has received via several donations, is often used as a resource by researchers from the Netherlands and abroad.

What's left out of the history books

Van Berkel's conclusion: Dutch secondy school students are not being properly educated when it comes to the Holocaust. Many books for example did not explicate how more than 100,000 Dutch Jews were murdered during World War II. Also, the Germans are often being portrayed as the villains, while the complicity of the Dutch authorities is hardly ever discussed.

Van Berkel told the Algemeen Dagblad: "We are maintaining the myth of a small and neutral Holland, who became the victim of the occupation, which raised a lot of resistance, and of which the Dutch citizens were the victims. That more than 102,000 Dutch Jews have been murdered hardly playes a role in the textbooks."

Phd Defense

Van Berkel will defend his dissertation on 14 September. The dissertation is entitled 'Plotlines of Victimhood. Holocaust in German and Dutch History Textbooks, 1960-2010'. Thee ceremony will take place from 15.30 uur, in in the Senaatszaal of the Erasmus building.

Van Berkel's supervisors are Prof. Maria Grever and Prof. Kees Ribbens.


Publication date: 24 July 2017