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Game Show Shocker Raises Questions About Holocaust Education

Russian Students: The Holocaust Is A Household Product i
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March 29, 2012
Two Russian university students, Ksenia and Yevgenia Karatygina, made news when they appeared on a quiz show on the music channel Muz-TV and revealed that they had never heard of the Holocaust. RFE/RL's Russian Service spoke to them in the studio to find out if they had learned a history lesson after their TV appearance

WATCH: RFE/RL invited Ksenia and Yevgenia Karatygina to its studios for a conversation about what, if anything, they'd learned from their television appearance.

By Mumin Shakirov and Aleksandr Kulygin
MOSCOW -- A beautiful set of twins from a village in Russia's Vladimir Oblast has become a national sensation for all the wrong reasons.

Appearing recently on a television game show late last year, Ksenia and Yevgenia Karatygina had the chance to win 500 rubles ($17) by answering the question: "What was the Holocaust?"

After some hesitation, discussion, and a frank admission that the term "says nothing" to them, Yevgenia answered.

"We think that the Holocaust is wallpaper paste," she said.

A video of the exchange has since gone viral on YouTube, attracting hundreds of thousands of viewers.




The personable and articulate twins, who now study at Moscow's Kosygin Technical University, explained that history and geography were never that interesting to them in school. Yevgenia Kartygina said she was more interested in poetry.

"To be honest, such subjects in school were pretty dull," Yevgenia said. "Not because the teacher was bad -- he knew what he was talking about. But I didn't want to devote my life to that -- I wasn't planning to study at some institute connected with history. So during those lessons, I was doing my own thing. I was writing poems. Now we are writing music -- we are into music."

As a result, however, neither sister could say what Auschwitz was nor had any idea that more than 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis during World War II.

The word Holocaust wasn't used in Soviet-era textbooks, although the Nazi persecution of Jews and Slavs in Eastern Europe and the U.S.S.R. was taught in schools. But the details were scant. The situation has only gradually improved in the 20 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Just this month, the Russian Education Ministry announced that Holocaust education would be added as a mandatory part of the curriculum and that textbooks and materials on the subject are now being developed.

In 2009, Yad Vashem, the official Israeli Holocaust memorial organization, received a $4 million grant to promote Holocaust education among Russian-speakers, a program that is being implemented in cooperation with Moscow's Holocaust Center.

For eight years now, UNESCO has sponsored an essay competition for Russian-speaking university students.

Read the 2011 winners of the UNESCO competition in English here

However, as late as 2007, a group of experts from the Russian Academy of Sciences studied 34 textbooks and other materials used in Russian schools that were created after 1991 and found that "some subjects are either suppressed or interpreted most tendentiously." "In some textbooks, the Holocaust is not mentioned at all," a summary of the report states.

Jewish and other human rights activists have long seen a link between the interpretation of the Holocaust and manifestations of anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance.

In an infamous incident in May 2002, a Russian woman named Tatyana Sapunova was severely injured when she attempted to remove a booby-trapped sign with an anti-Semitic slogan.

Months later, after undergoing extensive treatment at a hospital in Israel, Sapunova met in the Kremlin with then-President Vladimir Putin. Putin said at that meeting: "In any country, the development of extremism undermines the very basis of a nation's being, while for a country like Russia, it is absolutely disastrous because it is a multiethnic, multconfessional country. If we let this bacillus of chauvinism and national or religious intolerance develop, we will ruin our country."

Meanwhile, the Karatyginas continue to live, work, and study in Moscow. They are getting good grades and earning their way through school not only by appearing on game shows but also by distributing advertising leaflets and babysitting.

Ksenia doesn't know what the future holds, but Yevgenia hopes to get into the Russian Academy of Theatrical Arts and become an actress. Both are looking to the future with optimism.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: rick
March 29, 2012 18:02
You realy think that those are rapresentative of a country ?

If there is a place in the world in which culture of antifascism is still alive , this is russia ,
In Response

by: Uri Vokovich from: Kiev Ukraine
March 30, 2012 22:24
you would think they have more reason to know about the HOLMODOR,

In which jewish Lazar Kagan-ovich and the zio-soviet politburo starved to death or imprisoned as farm labor most of the gentile population of Ukraine.

Then, when you know THAT history, you begin to understand the hostility to jews in this area and the rest of Europe.

This article is angry not that HISTORY is being forgotten, but that specific propaganda is not being instilled in future generations, while other history they wish to wipe away is fine to be suppressed.
In Response

by: Ilya
April 01, 2012 04:09
Typical internet. Post a story about the Holocaust -> get neo-Nazi commentary. Stalin and most of the rest of the Soviet elite were rabid anti-semites. See: the suppression of Judaism, the doctors' plot, the purging of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, etc. The hostility to jews in this area and the rest of Europe long predates the USSR. That's because every society has its own ignorant bigots who want to blame their problems on foreigners.
In Response

by: Rick from: Milan
April 01, 2012 12:16
Holodomor ....

only in Ukraine people died of famine in those years ?


Do you know what is more shameful?

Is that somebody think that is necessary to exploit the dead
in the past

for justifying their present


useless recriminations

used for political speculation .


Work for your future

and please

stop looking at the past

after 22 years of wild capitalism

by: William from: Aragon
March 29, 2012 21:58
"Jewish ...activists have long seen a link between the interpretation of the Holocaust and manifestations of anti-Semitism..." Perhaps they are wrong, and the world is just moving on and not obsessing on something that happened over 2 generations ago.


by: Jack from: US
March 29, 2012 22:40
good for Russia, the brainwashing like in US did not spoil the young and beautiful there.

by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
March 30, 2012 04:42
It is unclear what such a surprise that girls are not familiar with the notion of the Holocaust...
Perhaps people who are surprised to have forgotten that this russian girls..
Why do they need to understand what the Holocaust is, when they have to think to whom and where to settle down...

From the same series-- who is the best russian lawyers--it is not those who know the criminal procedure code and criminal code but those who can to find a way to judge pocket and put in the bribe..
...(biased case of Khodorkovsky and like this -is not taken into account, there is nothing works except the order of Putin).

.It is difficult to say what is better:

A girl with a rich lover, who buys everything she wants but she does not know. what the Holocaust is
or
A girl who knows what the Holocaust is but has no money to buy new tights..
I do not think that this applies only to the girls in Russia..
girls want to eat anywhere, even in France..
Yes, Sarkozy?
girls want to dress up and ride on the Bentley, they do not care about the history....
I am sure that even Mr.Whitmore guesses about....


by: Bill Webb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
March 30, 2012 10:38
Although I have studied history extensively out of personal curiosity, it is a prerequisite in college but not in life. There are many people that do not have the curiosity that I do, and don't even know what a floppy disc was, let alone the Holocaust.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
March 30, 2012 11:08
Aha, it's like confronting the audience in the US with the following complex question "Where is Canada?" - the answer to which 40 per cent of the gringos are not able to give :-).
In Response

by: frijole eater from: mexico
March 30, 2012 21:35
not really a surprise since about 40% of the U.S. population are now illegal aliens from south of their border and who don't have a clue about geography

by: Sınav from: South Azerbaijan
March 30, 2012 18:29
That’s why they count 99.8% vote for Putin in Chechnya and the new generation remains bewildered about how Putin was elected.

As long as they do not know what Massacre is, it would never come to their minds that Putin Massacred Chechens during the second Chechen war and that Chechens cannot vote for Putin at all and he must have been elected in another way.
In Response

by: Eagle from: Chechnya
March 30, 2012 23:07
We are one of the few peoples on the Earth who are not afraid to beat crap out of most powerful empires.

by: Catherine Fitzpatrick from: New York
April 01, 2012 00:18
They're unlikely to know about Lenin and Stalin's Great Terror, either, although at least 50 million of their fellow citizens and neighbours were killed. Have they heard of the GULAG?

Recently the Russian Orthodox Church pushed to get religious studies put into the public schools. Maybe they should start with actual history, first.

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