This morning, I read a news article on the online Columbia Missourian newspaper, which you can read in full here.
This quote is from the article:
[Elie Wiesel's book] “Night is crucial to me,” said Flynn. It was the first Holocaust novel she taught when she began teaching in Hermann.
What’s wrong with that? Why shouldn’t students in Hermann, MO be taught the Holocaust, the same as students in every other school in America? At least, the book “Night” is being taught as a novel in the classrooms in Hermann.
This website tells you about the town of Hermann, MO. It is a town that was established by a group of German immigrants who traveled by wagon train to Missouri in 1839 and founded a town, populated entirely by ethnic Germans.
As a child, I lived in another small town in Missouri that was mostly German-American, but it was nothing like the town of Hermann, which had a population that was exclusively Volkdeutsch. Our High School basketball team played the Hermann team, but we could never win — not against those blond, blue-eyed Übermenschen.
The Holocaust didn’t happen in America and the German-Americans in Missouri were not responsible for it. Now the ethnic Germans in Herman are being taught that they must forever hang their heads in shame because of what happened in Germany more than 70 years ago.
Do the students in Hermann, MO have just one class on the Holocaust and then get back to studying American history and German history? No, it goes on and on, year after year; the students have “progressive lessons” on the Holocaust.
This quote is from the article in the Columbia Missourian:
Still, Flynn said one of the advantages of the program is teachers know what knowledge students gain from year to year so they don’t have to go back to the beginning.
“It makes everybody’s job a little bit easier and we avoid some of the Holocaust fatigue,” Flynn said.
She’s planned out lessons for seventh, eighth and ninth grade English students. When selecting the reading material she considered students’ maturity levels and bore in mind students’ realize the atrocity of Hitler’s final solution better when learning about individuals in their same age group affected by the Holocaust.
As a preview to the novel “Friedrich” by Hans Peter Richter, seventh-graders will study the social and cultural conditions that allowed the Nazis to become the ruling party of Germany. The book about two boys, one of whom is Jewish, growing up in Germany during the 1930s and, 40s is historical fiction.
Eighth-grade topics will include a closer view of life for Jews in hiding or captivity. Flynn determined books for their Holocaust unit would likely be “Surviving the Angel of Death” by Eva Mozes Kor and “The Diary of Anne Frank.”
Kor’s memoir about living through torture and experimentation at the hands of Dr. Joseph Mengele was adapted for a young adult audience and Flynn prefers the real diary over the lightly embellished play.
Shown in the photo below are some of the 611 Jewish children in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp when it was liberated. The girl on the far right is Eva Mozes Kor, one of the twins who were forced to be the subjects of medical experiments done by Dr. Josef Mengele. Eva and her sister Miriam both survived; Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated four days before their 11th birthday.
In the photo below, the child on the far right is Miriam Mozes. Miriam died in 1995, after battling cancer and kidney disease that Eva Kor says stemmed from her treatment at Auschwitz.
The quote from the Columbia Missourian continues below:
Flynn said the ninth-grade experience will be more immersive (sic) since they will address death marches and killing centers. Students will read “Night,” the devastating account of how Elie Weisel, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, lost his family and innocence as a teenager in Auschwitz.
Will the students be allowed to ask questions? For example, why did the Jews have to be “death marched” out of the “killing centers?” Was it because there had not been enough time to kill them at the killing centers, so that they had to be marched to death? That is the official Holocaust story: the prisoners were marched out of the camps, as means of killing them, so that they would not be able to testify about what they had seen in the camps. One of the prisoners who was marched out of Auschwitz was Elie Wiesel, who didn’t die on the death march. He was taken to the Buchenwald camp where he wasn’t killed; he was allowed to live and write a book about the atrocities that he had seen at Auschwitz.
Will the students in Hermann, MO learn about the German-Americans who were put into internment camps in America, and kept there for two years after the war ended? Probably not.
To me, teaching German-American students about the Holocaust is like putting them in internment camps again. World War II is over and the German people are no longer the enemy. Enough already!