The Treatment of the Holocaust in West German Textbooks
In 1959 antisemitic incidents in Cologne raised the question whether German schools were facing up to their responsibilities in combating racial myths. The authors examined thirteen textbooks in order to reach an opinion regarding education in Germany in the first decade after the war. History textbooks avoided and evaded the issue of Nazism by separating it from the so-called integrity of the German people. Racialism and antisemitism are attributed to Hitler and a narrow elitist echelon. In this manner the German people emerge uninvolved and absolved. The victims are depersonalized and remain without identity. The self-pitying emphasis on the sufferings of the Germans contrasts unpleasantly with the cold lack of concern for the millions of Nazi victims. There is little difference from the material in early texts. The Holocaust is similarly ignored. New aims have been clearly defined to include ethical values and civic responsibility as well as Jewish history and culture.