In scholarship on the Holocaust and the history of slavery, historians and other academics have, over the years, developed both abstract concepts and concrete activities. Teachers and developers of educational materials have translated complex events into digestible entities fit for use within and outside the classroom, often including new insights and new approaches in their teaching. This paper argues that the history of the Holocaust and the history of slavery share common elements regarding the way in which these painful episodes in history have been remembered, mentioned, processed and the extent to which they are reflected upon in schoolbooks and lesson plans. Theoretically, the paper explores the use of 'conceptual history'. It concludes that certain shared characteristics and connections may be useful when designing curriculum and lesson plans for today's multicultural classrooms. The case of the Netherlands is used throughout to illustrate general trends. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.