'Horrible Histories' and the Holocaust: A Child's Education?

For my brother's 10th birthday last month, I bought him the entire collection of Terry Deary's 'Horrible Histories' books.

If you're British, you're probably familiar with them; each of the 20 books describes one period of history, ranging from ancient civilisations through to the Blitz, through numerous cartoons, quizzes and humourous text. The books are so popular that, in the last few years, they have been made into a TV series, shown on the CBBC (Children's BBC) channel.
For tonight's bedtime story, my brother requested I pick a 'Horrible Histories' book; any one would do. In keeping with my interests, I chose 'Woeful Second World War'.

It was the contents page that initially caught my eye. Having a quick look down, I noticed a nine-page section devoted entirely to 'The Holocaust'. We didn't get past the first 20 pages, despite the pictures - one needs time to use expression and mimic different accents! - but we did manage to read through a brief timeline of the main events of the Second World War. A brief explanation of the Wannsee Conference is given, outlining that, 'German leaders meet and agree that the Jews are not really human'. Additionally, there is some mention of 'Auschwitz concentration camp', 'Belsen concentration camp' and 'Anne Frank', but there is not enough within this outline to give any proper explanation.
Once my brother had been put to bed, I read the section on 'The Holocaust' to myself. Deary is not shy to tell the young reader that the world 'Holocaust' means 'wholly burnt', and he doesn't stray away from the facts. He talks about figures such as Reinhard Heydrich and Heinrich Himmler and their opinion on the Jews without mincing his words. However, I was surprised to see that he used only the example of Treblinka to highlight death camps, with no mention of the labour that prisoners undertook in other camps. Through the medium of illustration, he shows what Jews going to Treblinka were thinking and what the Nazis really meant by these things; for example, a Jewish woman says, 'This is a work camp but the trees make it look pleasant,' whilst the Nazis in the adjacent frame say, 'The trees hide the gas chambers and burial pits.' Deary also bullet-points the revolt that occurred at Treblinka in 1943. There is, however, no mention of Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen or others, so a young reader may be confused by their mention at the beginning of the book. Then again, to focus on Auschwitz, for instance, would command a lot more detail and, perhaps, a lot more shocking truths for young people.
The rest of the section - in my opinion, rather brilliantly - cites two examples of heroism and kindness during such terrible times. The first is of a Polish policeman who lies and tells a Nazi he sees no one in an attic room in a ghetto, when around 20 women are children are hiding there, and one of a Nazi who prevents a Jewish woman being shot. In the first instance, the child is asked, 'How would you have behaved in this situation?' before they are told what the policeman actually did. I would assume any child reading that would have the same answer as many adults given the same question - 'I just don't know.'

This is not the only surprise I've had in regards to children's education about the Holocaust recently. The other day, this subject came up in conversation with my little brother. Tentatively, I asked him, "What do you actually know about the Holocaust?" I expected him to say that the Nazis didn't like the Jews and that they killed a lot of them. Instead, he said, quite confidently, "The Jews were taken to places like Auschwitz and they were put into these special rooms where there was poisoned oxygen, so they couldn't breathe, so they died. Then the Nazis used their corpses for things."
I was wide-eyed in disbelief. I certainly had not told him those things!
After correcting him on a few points, I asked, "Right...and where did you learn that from?"
"Oh, a teacher in Russian school." (My little brother is, in fact, a biological half-brother, and is bilingual because of his mother).
"I see. And was this recently?"
"Oh no, some time last year I think."
So a teacher had willingly told a class of eight- and nine-year-olds about such shocking things, when in the U.K., the Holocaust is not even on the curriculum until pupils are 14!

Was it right of her to tell them about such things? The facts are there, and they cannot be (or should not, because they are) denied, that's for certain. She was teaching them a part of history, a part of the Second World War that is historically, morally and culturally important. Then again, should she not have said anything, or should she have expanded on certain points (I was quick to point out to my brother that it was mainly hair and teeth exploited from the dead, rather than their actual corpses) so as not to let their imaginations run wild and frighten them even more? It is one thing to know Hitler was a 'bad man'; quite another to learn, at a young age, exactly how his hatred for Jews took on such a tragic form.
Then again, is this so different from Terry Deary's book, which has been published nationwide and has sold incredibly successfully? In some ways, it would have been very easy for him to write a book on the actual war side of those times and not the Holocaust, (though that is not to discredit the Holocaust or its importance in any way), but he chose not to, taking a softly-softly approach towards the beginnings of an introduction to the subject for young readers. I would assume this is because he values the importance of the Holocaust being taught and its lessons passed on, and that it can also be seen as a good starting point for moral questioning and reasoning in younger minds.

Consider for yourself - is there an age 'barrier' when it comes to teaching children and/or adolescents about such topics?