Remembering Auschwitz: A Survey of Recent Textbooks for the Teaching of History in German Schools
Twenty-two schoolbooks published in West Germany between 1981 and 1990 were evaluated. In contrast to the first decade of the Federal Republic of Germany, when textbooks hardly mentioned Auschwitz, accounts of what happened there are now given as a rule. However, they are not free of drawbacks. Auschwitz is presented from the perspective of the perpetrators, not of the victims. The texts focus on the camps’ organizational side, not on the victims’ sufferings, and there is a tendency to downplay the scope of the murder. Some textbooks try to correct this defect and give accounts of young people who were in Auschwitz, or include questions inviting pupils to find out what happened during the Nazi period to the Jews in their own town, i.e., they try to impel the pupils to identify with the victims. The author stresses that mentioning Auschwitz cannot be equated with remembering. For a list of the textbooks included in the survey, see pp. 306–307.