ELLSWORTH — A bill that would require education about the Holocaust to be taught in Maine schools will head to the House and Senate for a full vote after being approved in committee April 29. The vote was 7-6 in favor.
The legislation, introduced by Sen. Louie Luchini (D-Hancock County), was brought forward at the suggestion of Ellsworth High School (EHS) teacher Heidi Omlor.
At a work session on April 29, legislators proposed an amendment that would require education about genocide in general, including the Holocaust, according to an Associated Press report. The curriculum would be required at all public and private elementary and secondary schools in the state.
Luchini said less than a quarter of U.S. states mandate Holocaust education and that it’s time for Maine to join them.
Several EHS students were in Augusta on April 22 to testify in favor of the legislation.
“We must educate about the Holocaust to learn from the past and not allow history to repeat itself,” EHS student Emma Whitney told the committee. “To be the voices of the 6 million who never had the chance to tell the world.
“We must continue to educate the stories of survivors as we must not forget their resilience and bravery. The Holocaust must never be forgotten and it is up to us to make sure it is not.”
Holocaust survivor Charles Rotmil, whose father died in the gas chambers at Auschwitz, also testified before the committee.
“I was hidden by a monk, Father Bruno Reynders, along with my brother, Bernard. I have spoken to children all over Maine, once to 900 students in Caribou,” Rotmil said. “I believe it is crucial and essential that we teach the Holocaust and what happened so it does not happen again. It should be a mandated course as part of the curriculum in the schools of Maine.”