Thursday, 18 August 2011

German Propaganda In Polish Schools

From Spiegel;
"Students graduating from German schools are illiterate when it comes to Eastern Europe," says Jörg-Dieter Gauger, a history professor at the University of Bonn whose works are mainly published by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, a think tank associated with Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Gauger complains that Germany's historical eastern territories -- which were home to major cultural and historical achievements, but now belong to Poland -- are hardly mentioned as having once belonged to Germany. He also thinks that school materials lack any "indication of regret over the loss of the eastern provinces," and he credits German textbook authors with having a "self-destructive approach" that has them constantly presenting Polish-German relations as a "story of victims and suffering."

"...earning itself harsh criticism from Polish historians who felt that the text placed too much emphasis on the German resistance movement against Hitler while minimizing the Polish resistance and failing to even mention the Warsaw Uprising. "It leaves the impression that Poland is expected to adapt to the German terminology," said Boguslaw Kopka, from the Warsaw-based Institute of National Remembrance.

"One point on which conflict has repeatedly flared up involves the insistence of the Polish representatives that the word "expulsion" not be used to describe the forced flight of millions of ethnic-Germans as World War II ended and after national borders had been redrawn. Instead, they prefer to call it "resettlement." There has also been growing mistrust among Poles since the revival of interest in this topic in Germany following the 2002 publication of the Günter Grass novel "Crabwalk" and the more recent discussions surrounding a proposed documentation center on German expellees.
Demonstrating German feelings of superiority, one German textbook from 1952 described the eastward expansion of Germans in the Middle Ages as follows: "German colonists brought foreign groups (Poles, Bohemians and Hungarians) the most valuable aspects of their cultures."

In 1956, West German education officials at the federal level drew up their own recommendations on how to teach the history of Eastern Europe. They emphasized using the classroom to maintain "an awareness of German unity and the desire for reunification" as well as "to anchor the achievements" of Germany's east in "Germans' sense of history." A set of guidelines for geography classes put the "problem of Germany's eastern territories" under the subject of "major German geographic regions" and referred to Germany as being "split into three parts." In fact, maps in German classrooms showed the German Reich with its 1937 borders and labeled the western parts of Poland as "currently under Polish administration."

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