At a Washington D.C. school, third-grade students were forced by a teacher to reenact scenes from the Holocaust, including portraying Adolf Hitler and simulating executions, the Washington Post reports.
The incident was addressed in an email that the principal of Watkins Elementary School, Scott Berkowitz, sent to the parents of all the students involved. Allegedly, the female teacher directed the students to reenact certain scenes from the Holocaust while they were in library class; the stunt took place on Friday, during time that had previously been allotted for the students to do research for individual projects they had to complete before Christmas Break.
The teacher in question cast a Jewish student as Adolf Hitler. The student’s role ended with the teacher asking the student to pretend to commit suicide the same way Hitler did. Other students were ordered to pretend that they were digging mass graves and executing their fellow students, according to their parents; one student, according to their parents, was asked to reenact being contained in a train on its way to a concentration camp, and then to simulate dying in a gas chamber.
“I want to acknowledge the gravity of this poor instructional decision,” Berkowitz said in the email, “as students should never be asked to act out or portray any atrocity, especially genocide, war, or murder.”
Students allege that during the impromptu assignment, the teacher made anti-Semitic remarks, including the claim that “the Jews ruined Christmas.”
Although the teacher asked the students to not tell anyone else about the incident, multiple students reported it to their homeroom teacher. The teacher has since been placed on leave, and the incident is being investigated by the school; a report has also been filed with the D.C. Public Schools’ Comprehensive Alternative Resolution and Equity Team.