A staff member at Watkins Elementary School in Washington, D.C., allegedly tasked third-graders with reenacting the Holocaust, according to the Washington Post.
Watkins Elementary Principal MScott Berkowitz reportedly sent an email to parents informing them that some students were asked to portray participants from the Holocaust like Adolf Hitler, dig ditches to serve as mass graves, and simulate shootings. The student who was assigned to play Hitler allegedly was instructed to pretend to commit suicide, according to the Washington Post.
The staff member allegedly made “anti-Semitic statements,” according to Berkowitz’s email. The staff member allegedly told students that the Germans were angry “because the Jews ruined Christmas,” according to the Post.
Another student was allegedly told to pretend to ride a train to a death camp and pretend to die in a gas chamber, one parent told the Post. The staff member reportedly told students not to talk about the activity with anyone else, though students reported the incident to their homeroom teacher.
“I want to acknowledge the gravity of this poor instructional decision, as students should never be asked to act out or portray any atrocity, especially genocide, war, or murder,” Berkowitz said, according to the outlet.
A complaint was filed about the staff member’s activity with the District of Columbia Public School’s (DCPS) Central Equity Response team.
The staff member was placed on leave pending an investigation. (RELATED: Arizona Teachers Attend LGBTQ+ Training That Distributed Lesson Plans About Race, Gender For Kindergarteners)
A spokesperson for DCPS told the Post that the reenactment “was not an approved lesson plan.” Berkowitz’s email confirmed that students who were subjected to the lesson met with the school’s mental health response team.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) tweeted that they were “horrified” by the news.
“We’re horrified 3rd grade students were instructed to re-enact [sic] scenes from the Holocaust,” ADL said. “Simulation activities trivialize the experience of victims and often reinforce stereotypes.”
We’re horrified 3rd grade students were instructed to re-enact scenes from the Holocaust. Simulation activities trivialize the experience of victims & often reinforce stereotypes. We’ll be providing resources & support to help promote healing & education. https://t.co/ZEaY7WvV5v
— ADL Washington DC (@ADL_WashDC) December 20, 2021
The event allegedly transpired in the school’s library. Watkins Elementary School and DCPS are not naming the staff member who issued the Holocaust reenactment lesson.
A librarian from the school spoke with FOX 5 and said she believes “somebody’s misquoting what happened in the library that day.” She claimed that there was no Holocaust re-enactment or hate speech that took place and said she was “shocked” to see a letter from the principal condemning the assignment.
Watkins Elementary School and D.C. Public Schools did not respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment.