I am writing a piece of history coursework about the Holocaust. One of the section titles is What is the Holocaust, or What was the Holocaust? Could somebody please confirm which of these two is grammatically correct? Much appreciated...
I tend to agree with Robbie. The Holocaust is an event that occurred in the past so "was" seems most appropriate. Using "is" would also be well understood since the Holocaust is an historical event.
"What was the Holocaust" is most likely correct.
If the section of your paper is going to explain what 'the Holocaust' refers to, eg, the specific time in history when Germany murdered > 6M Jews, it would correctly be titled "What is 'The Holocaust'."
If the section of your paper is going to talk about the historical event itself, then the past tense seems more correct: "What was the Holocaust."