Fragile Confidentiality. Ethical Challenges in Research on Holocaust Education

Holger Knothe


Holocaust education always bears a moral dimension. Thus, ethical issues, understood as reflection on morals, always are immanent in sociological research on Holocaust education from its very beginning. In this article I therefore reflect on research ethics-related issues that arose during a qualitative research project of teaching about the fate of European Sinti and Roma during the Holocaust in German secondary schools. Against the background of characteristics specific to the field of schooling and its specific institutional framework, clearly defined role-related relationships, and strongly formalized data protection regulations, I illuminate in this study, with reference to German sociologists' Code of Ethics, the ethical challenges and the room to maneuver for the stakeholders involved. The study led me to the insight that research ethics principles can be implemented only in an incremental fashion with regard to specifics of the field (school), context (teaching of methods), and research focus (Holocaust education) by taking into account field-specific characteristics and dilemma; and I learned about the fundamentally fragile role of confidentiality in the research process.


anonymization; antigypsyism; avoidance of harm; confidentiality; Holocaust education; informed consent; research in schools; voluntariness


Copyright (c) 2018 Holger Knothe

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