Anonymous asked: I'm just honestly curious: How extensively does the German school system teach the students about the Holocaust? I've heard differing statements saying that either they teach everything about the Holocaust or that they just simply "gloss" over it. Which is true?
The first one for sure!
Of course it depends a little on your school form, the particular school itself, your teachers and everything. So it’s possible that for whatever reasons some students only “gloss” over it, but I think usually it’s pretty much the opposite. WWII and the Holocaust are always on the official syllabus in history class at least.
This is my personal experience:
The first time I was confronted with WWII and anti-Semitism in class was in elementary school. I don’t think we learned any details about the Holocaust because that might have been too traumatizing for kids of that age, but I can remember how we learned that Jews were excluded from society, how they were oppressed, and so on.
After elementary school I attended a German “Gymnasium”. There are several school forms in Germany, the system is too complicated to explain. But a Gymnasium is basically the “highest” high school form. No bragging intended. It’s just that students have to deal with a lot of subjects in more detail there.
The first book we ever read in German class was actually “Damals war es Friedrich”. It’s about a friendship between two German boys (one of them is Jewish) during the 3rd Reich. That’s how they slowly started to approach the topic with us.
And from that point on the 3rd Reich and the Holocaust always stayed with us. In German class we read countless texts referring to these topics. “If you don’t understand a poem, say it’s about the Nazis or the Holocaust and there’s a 80% chance it’ll be right.” That’s one of the main “mottos” among German students because it’s true.
We discussed parts of the 3rd Reich and the Holocaust at least once a year in history class. We discussed the Nazis’ position regarding art in art class, including “entartete Kunst” (“degenerate art”) and what happened to it. We discussed National Socialism and the Holocaust several times in religion class. It came up in language classes, it was everywhere. Especially in the last ~4 years of school.
I think it’s good that way and super important! But on some days it could happen that there was at least one reference to WWII or the Holocaust in every single one of our lessons. It was simply too much occasionally and even though we knew it was a crucial topic, it could become “annoying” from time to time.
Some students also visit former concentration camps on field day. I didn’t, but we were visited by Holocaust survivors who were sort of “touring” from German school to German school and told their stories.
Again, this is only my personal experience, but I’ve heard the same from many other Gymnasium students who went to different schools in different federal states. Maybe it has changed a little bit in the last few years, though I’m pretty sure that it’s still one of the main topics in most schools.
This is really great.
I went to a private school in Australia and I didn’t learn anything about Australia’s racist history. Sure I didn’t study Modern History as an elective subject in high school but shouldn’t it be incorporated into the general curriculum?