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September 21, 1979     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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September 21, 1979
 

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qets New Request "s Fate The Minister Ola UIIsten wrote to a Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin the requesting a new investigation JUts of of the entire affair. Raoul in the Wallenberg, who would d of have been 67 years old on Aug. 4, was kidnapped in a Budapest in 1945 after res- cuing thousands of Jews from the Nazis and has been of an reported to be still in a Soviet prison. Interviewed by the Swedish news agency bureau in fourth Moscow, Biden is reported to in have said he was personally have convinced that Wallenberg LI.S. was still alive and it was in extremely urgent that the Soviet authorities should trace him. blEW YEAR i, and Family States Congress Democrat mlttee. A copy of our report is Rled and is Cornmlsslor. WNngton. D.C. HERITAGE, Florida Jewish News. Friday, September 21, 1979, Page A-15 45 Years after the Holocaust What Do Germans Really Know? NEW YORK (JTA) -- It is always the same. Whenever we meet young Germans in Europe, after a while they ask in a curious tone: "How come you -- Americans -- speak such a flawless German?' The answer is always the same: "We were thrown out of Germany by the Germans." Then there is silence and after a while a shy embarrassed almost whispering answer emerges: "We heard about it." But how much did they hear? How much do they know? How much has this knowledge affected their lives? A young engineer is not afraid to confess: We never learned in school about it; whenever it came to details of Nazi policies, the teachers managed to avoid the topic. Recent history, anyway, could come up only at the end of the semester; and at that point the teacher saw to it that there was no time left to treat this topic in any depth. We wanted to know about it; so we wanted to conduct our own history course about the Nazi-time. The principal of the school prohibited it. This was in the middle ] 950s. It was the time when teachers who were active under the Nazi regime dominated German schools. They did not want to be confronted with their misdeeds or laughed out of the classroom for their adoration of the Fuehrer. It was embarrassing to them. They all had a bad conscience. Now, many years have gone by. Is there any change in the attitude of both teachers and students? Do they know the full story? Do they want to know the full history of the Hitler years? Far Removed from Past Events There is ample talk about a generation that is far removed from the events of the past. Some say the new generation does not even want to under- stand how their elders behaved in those times. There are complaints that nobody can explain to them the absence of any organized resistance to Hitler. These complaints were especially loud and clear when, a few months ago, Germany remembered the attempt on Hitler's life by a group of German officers on July 20, 1944. A study of teaching direc- tives and history books found that the rudiments of an organized resistance to Hitler were hardly mentioned or superficially treated in 49 books examined. A perusal of several history books used in the 10th grade in high schools shows that the same judgment could be applied to the description and analysis of the persecution of Jews in the Third Reich. There is, in some books, a description and even a picture of concentration camps and the horror of extermination. But there are always excuses. Speaking of the organization of concentration camps, one book flatly states: "Adminis- trative personnel and super- visors, technicians and physicians were supplied by the SS. Very seldom were they diabolic torturers; most of them were simple family men, correct and dutiful citizens in their private lives who imagined their dirty 'work' was a service to the Vaterland." Every opportunity is taken to explain that they were simply overwhelmed by Nazi propaganda. It is significant that some of the authors hesitate to state the number of Jews killed. One book says it clearly: "...the total number of those murdered can only be roughly estimated at four million out of the entire European countries." Another book speaks of five or six million killed. tfly of Jews Neglected No attempt is made to go into the history of the Jews in Germany. Their participation and role in German culture is not mentioned. Judging from some of the history books the prosecution of the Jews began in 1935 with the race laws of Nuremberg. Not one word is mentioned that, immediately after Hitler came to power, Jews were removed as officials in government as judges and lawyers unless they had been active com- batants in World War I. The student who reads these history books can hardly be aware of the systematic education of the German people to hate the Jews, to regard them as fit to be exter- minated. On the other hand, the revolt in the Warsaw Ghetto is called a turning point in the history of the Jewish peo#e. "For the first time since ancient times Jews fought again against their fate which they had accepted so willingly in the past." Still, a teacher, if he wants to, can supplement the material given in those books by asking questions and raising problems, by point ing to the human side and ignoring the detached and abstract narrative. Unfor- tunately, there are still teachers in the classrooms who were part of the Nazi machine, who were members of the Hitler-Jugend (Nazi youth movement) that gave them a thorough education in hating Jews. They certainly will not be willing to transmit the true history of that time; they themselves were too much involved in it. All the other, younger teachers, born after the war, might have a much better chance to penetrate the fog that has settled on German minds. They might be helped by the showing of the NBC-rv film "Holocaust" on German TV last January. Reports seem to indicate that the film, atever its short- comings, may have induced many not to evade the past. But how long will this newly found interest last? In an atmosphere of material well-being, not many people are willing to deal with frightful events. They are simply too involved in their own affairs. They do not want to hear anything that might burden them. In this respect, German teachers or German students are no different from their counterparts in sther countries. Germans, young and old, always ask why they should beat their breasts in repentance and excel in guilt feelings. Those born after the war add: we were not even living at that time. But Jews, over the centuries, were held responsible for the death of the founder of the Christian religion. Yet, they were not living at that time and those living had hardly a part of the cricifbdon. There is something like an historical guilt. Sometimes it is manufactured with disastrous consequen- ces. In the case of the German, guilt and blame were not invented and the minimum one can ask for is that the perpetrators of those crimes are being punished. A discussion of whether the statute of limitations for Nazi crimes should be extended should not be a matter of debate, but a matter of civility. The bottom line is whether the social, political and economic atmosphere that prevails in Germany will allow students and teachers to rise above the influences they encounter. After all, the classroom generally reflects the desires and attitudes of society at large. Pltseleh The British Jewish giant food corporation of J. Lyons & Co., now owns the Amerfcan Baskin.Robbins ice cream chain while Sir James Goldsmith, a relative of the French Rothschilds and head of Generala Occidentale and Cavenham U,S4 Inc., has acquired all of the stock of the Grand Union food empire_ A Happy Rosh Hashanah your whole family00from , the people at Publix. Through the new year, may your family share the blessings of peace, joy and love. Publix