Sunday, February 17, 2008

French Pesident Sarkozy Gets Involved in Holocaust Education: What a Mess

French President Sarkozy seems to have arbitrarily decided that every child in France should study the story of one of the 11,000 French Jewish children killed during the Holocaust.

Now first let it be stated that the French have a dismal history regarding the Holocaust. When you look at pictures of the roundups in France search for a picture of a German official participating in this shameful act. You won't find one. It was all conducted by French.

For years after the Holocaust France refused to confront this aspect of its collaborationist history. So it should be refreshing to learn of a French leader such as Sarkozy breaking with that tradition and ordering this educational reform.

However from the news stories I have read it seems that this was done without forethought, planning, or consultation. Nor am I at all convincd that this is the best way for a child to fully understnad what happened. Can a child at age 10 really grasp this? I don't think Jewish kids aged 10 should be engaged in such a project. How much more so a French kid....

The announcement was further complicated by the fact thqt Sarkozy 'wrapped his plan in the cloak of religion,' he blamed the wars and violence of the last century on an “absence of God” and calling the Nazi belief in a hierarchy of races “radically incompatible with Judeo-Christian monotheism.”

All that this does is thrust Holocaust education, which must be handled professionally and not politically and certainly not in this haphazard fashion, into a debate not of its own making.

What a mess and what an unnecessary one.

4 comments:

Roman Werpachowski said...

"he blamed the wars and violence of the last century on an “absence of God” and calling the Nazi belief in a hierarchy of races “radically incompatible with Judeo-Christian monotheism.”"

Sarkozy clearly doesn't know too much about history or is a damn liar.

Ludovic said...

« Sarkozy breaking with that tradition »

Are you somehow believing that Holocaust had not been taught in French schools until 2007, when Sarkozy came to power ?

« For years after the Holocaust France refused to confront this aspect of its collaborationist history »

Perhaps France has not been much slower than other countries like Britain as regards to recognizing the importance of the Holocaust in History. As Tony Judt says : "I can confirm the lack of interest in the Shoah in those years from my own experience, growing up in England—a victorious country that had never been occupied and thus had no complex about wartime crimes. But even in England the subject was never much discussed—in school or in the media."
Tony Judt "The 'Problem of Evil' in Postwar Europe"
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21031

Chris said...

As a kid who grew up in Britain I'd like to point out that we were taught about the holocaust both as part of the history of WWII and separately as a crime against humanity. Watching Shoah was part of the curriculum and to suggest that the Brits have some kind of denial or problem regarding recognition of the holocaust is pejorative and frankly a bigot's
lie. However I see from Ms Lipstadt's comments in CNN this morning that she obviously has an anti-British bias: ""People who know nothing and listen to Williamson, with his British accent, and he's in a bishop's outfit, and he sounds rational, say, 'Hmm, maybe there's something to it,'" she said." Lipstadt, grow the hell up and stop casting racial slurs.

Deborah Lipstadt said...

"listen to Williamson with his British accent..."

You certain have turned my words inside out. To many people a British accent gives someone's statements added validity. It sounds more cultured and more informed than an American accent.

Furthermore, even if I were disparaging the British -- which I wasn't -- that would not be a "racist slur." Next time you walk down a street in London look at the residents of the city and tell me precisely what "race" they are...

Methinks you came to my comments looking for something to attack....
[and I am not sure why you are commenting about Williamson on a post from over a year ago....]