Germany's Nazi past : a critical analysis of the period in West German high school history textbooks / by Hildegund M. Calvert.
The question of how to deal with the legacy of the National Socialist dictatorship and how to teach the period in West German schools has been and continues to be a controversial issue in the Federal Republic of Germany. During the 1950s and early 1960s history textbooks were severely criticized for their inadequate coverage of National Socialism, particularly regarding the persecution of the Jews and the Holocaust. Such criticism combined with a number of anti-Semitic incidents in 1959 led authorities to initiate major reforms on how schools should teach the Nazi period and consequently brought about major textbook revisions. The objective of this study was to determine how adequately textbooks used in the 1980s cover this period and whether what they are teaching is accurate and sufficient to deal with the enormity of the events and policies of that time. Topics on which coverage was weak or nonexistent generally pertained to issues which are painful and embarrassing for German people to deal with. Among these issues were the German treatment of prisoners of war, occupation policies in western Europe, forced relocations from areas such as Alsace and Lorraine, Nazi reprisal actions and the killing of hostages, activities of the SS Einsatz units, documentation concerning deportations and ghettos, medical experiments, and the role German industry played in the mass murder of innocent people. One of the more disturbing findings was that no changes had been made between the 1966 and 1978 (1983 printing) editions of one text and between the 1968 and later undated 1983? editions of another text. It is strongly recommended that those responsible for the publication of German history textbooks take the necessary steps to correct these still existing errors and omissions before a new wave of criticism at home or from abroad forces them once again to do so.
Record last modified: 2018-05-29 16:28:00
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