K-12 schools will soon be required to teach lessons on the Holocaust under new law

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Members of the Jewish community and lawmakers are celebrating what they call landmark legislation to educate the younger generation about the Holocaust.

Governor Tony Evers signed into law a bipartisan bill that would require K-12 schools to incorporate lessons on the Holocaust and other genocides at least once in grades 5-8 and again in grades 9-12.

Supporters of the bill understand teachers may already have lessons on the Holocaust, but they pushed for it to become a requirement across the state.

“This is not a Jewish law, this is not a law about history, this is about the future of our young people,” said Mark Miller, chair of the board at the Holocaust Education Resource Center.

Gov. Evers signed the bill at the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, and it will go into effect next year.

Some supporters of the bill became emotional at the bill signing, sharing stories of how surprised they were to learn so many young people are unaware of the impact of the Holocaust, where Nazis killed more than 6 million Jews during World War II.

“If I die, I will die with a smile because this is what happened and we have to remember all the people who were killed and murdered,” said Eva Zaret, a Holocaust survivor.

The new law hopes educating the younger generation will also reduce anti-Semitic incidents. The Milwaukee Jewish Federation released a report last year that showed these incidents increased 55% from 2018-2019 and more than tripled from 2015.

“We cannot allow (these incidents) to be normalized,” said Evers. “Hate, bigotry and anti-Semitism have no place in Wisconsin.”

Wisconsin will join 17 other states that require Holocaust education, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

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