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German teachers call for Mein Kampf to be put back on the syllabus

German Teachers’ Association wants the new edition of Hitler’s manifesto to be taught in secondary schools to ‘inoculate adolescents against political extremism’

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Photo: AFP/Getty

Adolf Hitler could be about to make a return to German classrooms, after a teachers’ organisation called for his book Mein Kampf to be added to the syllabus — in order to protect children from extremism.

The notoriously racist and anti-Semitic work is to be republished in German for the first time since the Second World War in January.

The German Teachers’ Association wants the new edition to be taught in secondary schools to “inoculate adolescents against political extremism”.

The German Teachers’ Association wants the new edition to be taught in secondary schools to “inoculate adolescents against political extremism”.

The proposal has met with protests and been condemned as irresponsible by Jewish groups.

Mein Kampf, a rambling screed which contains Hitler’s thoughts on everything from eugenics and race theory to syphillis and movies, remains a taboo in Germany 90 years after its publication.

Although it has never been officially banned, its publication in the original German has been prevented since 1945 by the state of Bavaria, which owns the copyright.

• Publishing Mein Kampf is the best way to undermine Hitler’s poison

The book is considered so dangerous that copies in the Bavarian state library are kept in a “poison cabinet” and anyone who wants to read them has to be specially vetted.

The copyright expires on New Year’s Day, and a government-funded institute is publishing a new critical edition.

Even though the new edition is aimed at academics and will contain hundreds of pages of notes exposing the flaws in Hitler’s thinking, its release is highly controversial in Germany, and has reopened a national debate on how to deal with the book.

Adolf Hitler: A still from one of the many Nazi propaganda films sent to Pathe in the 1930s but never actually edited into newsreel. Inset shows Montecristo Editora's current ebook edition of Hitler's Mein KampfA still from one of the many Nazi propaganda films sent to Pathe in the 1930s. Inset shows Montecristo Editora’s current ebook edition of Hitler’s Mein Kampf  Photo: Pathe News PLC

Schools cannot simply ignore Mein Kampf, Josef Kraus, president of the German Teachers Association, told Handelsblatt newspaper.

Adolescents can easily find the text on the internet, he said, and rather than allowing the allure of the forbidden, it was better for the book to be taught by “savvy history and politics teachers”.

Children aged 16 and over would be taught carefully selected passages under the proposals.

German Jewish groups are divided over the idea.

“Knowledge of Mein Kampf is still important to explain National Socialism and the Holocaust,” Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, has said.

But Yehuda Teichtel, a leading Berlin rabbi, has warned the “risk is greater than the benefit”.

“There is a risk its introduction into the curriculum will be abused by problematic factors working to spread the ideas mentioned in it,” Rabbi Teichtel said.

“This deeply anti-Semitic diatribe of all texts does not beling in the classroom,” Charlotte Knobloch, chairman of the Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria, said.

Angela Merkel’s coalition partners, the Social Democrats, have supported the call for the book to be taught in schools.

“Mein Kampf is a terrible and monstrous book. It is appropriate as part of a modern education for a qualified teachers to unmask the history of this anti-Semitic inhuman pamphlet and explaining the propaganda mechanism behind it,” Ernst Dieter Rossmann, the party’s education spokesman, said.

“A critical analysis of Mein Kampf, this antithesis of humanity, freedom and openness to the world, can strengthen resistance against these temptations and dangers.”

The opposition Green Party called for the proposal to be widened to include teaching of contemporary far-Right authors.

Volker Beck, the party’s home affairs spokesman, said teachers should be specially trained to teach far-Right books “in today’s context of hate and incitement”.

He singled out the works of Akif Pirincci, a German-Turkish author who told a rally earlier this year it was “unfortunate” concentration camps were “out of action” and could not be used to house Muslim immigrants.

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This entry was posted on December 23, 2015 by and tagged , , .

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