What do schools in Germany teach their kids about Adolf Hitler and World War 2? This is a question for Germans?

I just got back from a trip to Germany, had a great time. Since I live in the U. S., it's nice visiting a place with thousands of years of history. We visited Frankfurt, which was flattened during WW 2, and also Heidelberg, which was spared.

Since each country has different interpretation on things, I kept wondering, what do Germans think and teach their kids about Adolf Hitler and World War 2?

Do Germans think World War 2 was "grave mistake committed by their own country, which will never be repeated" sort of thing.

Or, do Germans have a different interpretation of why it started, what happened?


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What Girls Said 3

  • All schools that teach history in Germany do. And virtually every school teaches history at some point.

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    • 17d

      Not all,
      I've got a good family friend whose japanese and she says that they just skip over ww2 there

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    • 16d

      Thanks, I mean, what do they teach about World War 2 in Germany? Do they think it's a mistake, or do they have a different interpretation?

    • 16d

      They just teach the historical facts, german schools in general are very fact and little opinion based. In terms of postwar period the US get the overall far more positive representation though, just like in supposedly any other western country.

  • They take that shit super seriously. Like, if you even joke about it you're in big trouble.

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  • They teach them about Hitler, surprise

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What Guys Said 7

  • I'm not German but I think I'm still allowed to give my opinion since I'm Swiss and our school systems (and the things we learn) are quite similar. I also know a lot of German people because they're the largest immigrant group in Switzerland (especially among well-educated, upper-middle class folks).

    First of all, I must say that Germany should be complimented and applauded by the world community for its way of dealing with the holocaust and the second world war. There is NO country in the world and especially no former dictatorship that has done even remotely as much as Germany has done to educate and inform its population and "re-process" (for the lack of better English word) all the crimes it has committed in the past. Whereas Russian, Italian or Japanese people are still quite brainwashed about their past and sometimes even admire their former dictators, Germans are extremely differentiated and "academic" about Germany's dark history. They don't feel personally sorry (as is often the accusation), however, they are well-informed and will freely admit to Germany's former atrocities. So you won't find German people telling you "Hitler was a pretty cool guy". In fact, it would be UNTHINKABLE for a German person to say this. NOT, because they feel so ashamed about their past but because they're so well-educated on the topic. In my country Switzerland, we have a pretty similar approach to our dark past. As a Swiss person, I don't feel personally sorry for Swiss banks having stored Jewish gold during WW2 because I didn't decide that. However, contrary to Italian or Japanese people, I would NEVER deny these things. Many Japanese politicians deny to this day the numerous war crimes Japan committed during the war. In Italy, the granddaughter of Mussolini sits in the national parliament. In Germany, this is unthinkable because people have psychologically re-worked their history as a country

    The Holocaust and world war two are usually prominent topics in German (and Swiss) education. Contrary to America, our school system makes most subjects in school mandatory for all students, including history. In my case, we covered the second world war for almost an entire year in high school. I'm sure it's similar in Germany.

    From what I understand, Germans do think that it was a grave mistake. However, BECAUSE it happened to them, they also understand it could happen again any time. My history teacher once said "fascism is not a thing of the past. It still (cont.)

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    • 17d

      concerns us today." Germans know this very well. Back in 1925, the NSDAP was a tiny party without any political influence whatsoever and led by a couple of fanatic morons. People had laughed at you if you would have told them that this party will lead Germany into a dictatorship just 8 years later. It just seemed unfathomable. And yet, it happened. Most of the Nazis were not inherently "evil" people but rather it was the spirit of the time that made them show the worst of themselves. I believe this understanding is also one important reason why far-right parties have it extremely difficult in Germany to this day. Until recently, there weren't any such movement at all. The AfD has come into existence just 2-3 years ago. And even this party struggles much more than comparable parties in France, Austria or the Netherlands. Especially the attitude Austrians have towards WW2 is surprisingly different from the German attitude. Austria has done far less to re-think and re-work their past.

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    • 17d

      @frozenhorizon Oh okay. Sorry for generalizing then ;-). I've spent one year at an American high school and things were pretty... "unorganized" for my standard. I was allowed to make my own schedule and choose most of my lessons freely. For example I took American history because I wanted to learn more about the US but nobody forced me to take it. Foreign language classes weren't mandatory either. The only two classes I remember being mandatory were English and math. Though in math, we were still pretty free to choose different kinds of math. For example some exchange students took difficult calculus classes whereas others took really consumer math classes. In Germany or Switzerland, you just get handed your schedule for the next quarter or semester and that tells you what lessons you have to go to on what day. There are certain rules the local government makes, such as "at least 5 hours of German, 4 hours of French (in Switzerland) and at least 2 hours of history per week".

    • 17d

      Oh no problem. :P Foreign language, American history, world history, and the others were all mandatory for me. And I was just handed my schedule too, until the last year of high school. Maybe if you were the "high school senior" age then that's why, I think a lot of them give you choices in the last year but not so much before that... although yeah, this stuff is determined by the state and county you're in I believe so I'm sure it depends on the location actually. It's just for most people I know, they didn't have that many options

  • I would imagine they take it seriously, their own government pretty much makes it impossible for the German people to have any sense of pride regarding their nation or people. They are ashamed and sorry for who they are and that's not right. And I've heard the education on the subject isn't any better indoctrination and ignorance.

    What we're taught here in the states is what happened we know that the Germans did wrong but we also know that isn't wasn't the people responsible but the Nazi's. Who persecuted everyone even their own people and we don't blame the current German people who the crimes of the Nazi's nor should we they are not responsible.

    And the German goverment is so paranoid that any sort of national pride, or blonde hair or anything like that will somehow bring about a new Nazi regime that they distance themselves as far away from it as possible.

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    • 17d

      Wow. This is literally the most misinformed statement I've read all month..

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    • 17d

      It's just funny you believe the things they say in the media more than an actual german person.

    • 17d

      Especially supposing you don't even speak german so the "subtitles" to whatever "german news" you believe you've seen may as well be completely false

  • We are pretty much indoctrinated that we are all bad and have been bad and the other side of the coin didn't a single wrong deed throughout the second world war.

    Additionally we ignore a whole ont of important aspects of it.

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  • history is written by the victors as they say, he really wasn't that bad until the later half of the war but I'd have to brush up on it, like in america they're pretty vague about all the slave camps/prisoners we had in ww2 and stuff, and focus on US winning/looking like good guys, where as the first thing they go over is how the bad guys in ww2 were germans/etc, its really complete nonsense because germans weren't nearly as bad as they were portrayed to be

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  • They do and they take it very seriously, they aren't historical revisionists like the japanese

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  • Im Belgian. They are shamed and sorry for being German. They believe they have commited the worst crime in history. But only the communist regime has commited a bigger crime than them.

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  • They teach that he was almost as bad as trump.

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