German students will soon be given a Holocaust textbook published in a most unusual format—that of a comic book.
The comic books trace the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany’s descent into barbarism through the eyes of a Jewish family.
In full-colour panels, the family members use the internet to trace their lost relatives, victims of the Holocaust. Pictorial flashbacks graphically show Hitler and his henchmen as well as the horrors of his war and the gas chambers.
The Search, as the comic book is entitled, is the first attempt to use a graphic novel as an aid in teaching history in Germany. The comics are being tested in public schools in Berlin and in North Rhine-Westphalia for the spring 2008 semester.
Pupils in years Seven through Ten will be given the graphic novel as teaching aids, and it was unveiled on the 75th anniversary of Hitler becoming chancellor on January 31, 1933.
Recent surveys show that Germans under age 20 have an appalling lack of knowledge about 20th Century history.
While all of them know and recognise Hitler, only one in three was aware of what the word “Holocaust” means.
And fewer than one in ten could identify Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels or other Nazi henchmen.
Terms such as the Sudeten Crisis or the Siege of Stalingrad were unknown to all but a handful of pupils.
Almost none could give the date of the start of World War II, and fewer than 20 per cent could name the four Allied Powers which occupied post-war Germany.
So most educators have welcomed the move.
“We are very excited about this,” one school administrator told RTL Television. “There is an appalling ignorance among teenagers about anything prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.”
I hope the Escapist makes an appearance.