Scrapbookpages Blog

March 17, 2013

Students in Indonesia think Hitler was cool…

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 10:52 am

There are now 20 Jews living in Indonesia, according to this quote from Wikipedia:

The history of the Jews in Indonesia commences with the arrival of early European explorers and settlers. Jews in Indonesia presently form a very small Jewish community of about 20,[1] of mostly Sephardi Jews.

With so few Jews living in Indonesia today, an American teacher who is instructing students in Indonesia was horrified to learn that young people in that country today think that Hitler was cool.  Why would they think that? And how should they be taught differently?

I have no idea why students in Indonesia would think that Hitler was cool.  Could it be that they know that Hitler was a Zionist and he helped the Jews get their own country by way of “The Transfer Agreement”?  You can read about The Transfer Agreement here.

This quote is from the article written by an American teacher in Indonesia:

In order to personalize the Holocaust I told the students that they were each going to be someone else during that day’s class – someone who had lived during World War II and/or the Holocaust. Drawing from various sources (primarily the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington) I crafted an identity card for each student. Some students became Jews sent to the concentration camps, some students were German SS soldiers, some were Christians who hid Jews during the Holocaust. Others were Jewish resistance fighters or gypsies or homosexuals who also suffered greatly at the hands of the Nazis. I decided I would parcel out different pieces of the student’s “alternative” biography as the lesson progressed. I handed the students their first ID card with an introduction to who they were. I wanted to be sure the students could personalize this immense topic since the numbers six million or eleven million people murdered are too great to fathom.

This method of teaching about the Holocaust was being used at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum when I visited it twice in the year 2000.  Each time, I drew the card of a person who was persecuted during the Holocaust, but survived. In my humble opinion, this method is not the best way of teaching the Holocaust.

I think that the best way to teach Indonesian students about what happened to the Jews in Germany, when Hitler was in power, would be to start with the prior history of the Jews in Europe.   For example, this information from Wikipedia:

In the Late Middle Ages, as the Black Death epidemics devastated Europe in the mid-14th century, annihilating more than a half[citation needed] of the population. It is an oft-told myth, however, that due to their better nutrition and cleanliness, Jews were not infected in similar numbers; Jews were indeed infected in similar numbers to their non-Jewish neighbors [7] Yet they were still targeted as scapegoats. Rumors spread that they caused the disease by deliberately poisoning wells[by whom?] . Hundreds of Jewish communities were destroyed by violence. Although the Pope Clement VI tried to protect them by the July 6, 1348 papal bull and another 1348 bull, several months later, 900 Jews were burnt alive in Strasbourg, where the plague hadn’t yet affected the city.[8]


The expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, as well as from Austria, Hungary and Germany, stimulated a widespread Jewish migration to the much more tolerant Poland. Indeed, with the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, Poland became the recognized haven for exiles from Western Europe; and the resulting accession to the ranks of Polish Jewry made it the cultural and spiritual center of the Jewish people.

The map below, copied from Wikipedia, shows the countries from which the Jews were expelled, and the dates of the expulsion.

Map shows countries from which Jews were expelled

Map shows countries from which Jews were expelled

Hitler’s treatment of the Jews was nothing new to Europe.  Students in Indonesia should start at the beginning of the history of the Jews in Europe if they want to understand the Holocaust. Jews have been expelled from 79 countries throughout history, so Hitler should not be singled out as a villain in history.

I previously blogged about how the Jews in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany were persecuted in the year 1298 here.