French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants all fifth-graders in his country to be “entrusted with the memory” of one of the 11,000 Jewish children who were deported to Auschwitz and other death camps in eastern Europe during the Nazi occupation of France. Speaking to French Jews at a dinner in Perigueux, Sarkozy said, “Nothing is more moving, for a child, than the story of a child his own age, who has the same games, the same joys and the same hopes as he, but who, in the dawn of the 1940s, had the bad fortune to be defined as a Jew.”
Since 2002, fifth-graders have studied the Holocaust as a crime against humanity, watching films, visiting museums and memorials and taking field trips to concentration camps, The New York Times reports, and schools that lost students to the Holocaust hang plaques in their memory.
Some psychiatrists and teachers object to the curriculum change on the grounds that forcing students to identify with a specific victim would be psychologically traumatic, and would “unfairly burden children with the guilt of previous generations,” reports Reuters. Counters Sarkozy: “You do not traumatize children by giving them the gift of the memory of a country.”
Others complain that the proposal doesn’t go far enough, and should also include Gypsies and other victims of the Nazis. The Stiletto agrees, and suggests that the proposal also be extended to include the Armenian Genocide – France has a large population of Armenians in the Diaspora, and their history of near-extermination is currently not taught in French schools.
The Armenian Genocide is not taught in Turkish schools – it is a criminal offense to teach, talk about or write about Ottoman Turkey’s systematic annihilation of its Christian Armenian population (second item) - which is why Turks are convinced it never happened (last item, “The Other Shoe Drops”).
Israeli children do not learn about the Armenian Genocide in school, according to historian and scholar Yair Auron, author of “The Banality of Denial: Israel and the Armenian Genocide” (Transaction Books, 2003), which is why Israel can enter into a military and economic alliance with Turkey without too many people asking inconvenient and uncomfortable questions about what “never again” should mean to Israelis.
And, except for a handful of school districts in MA and CA that have a large Armenian population, the Armenian Genocide is no longer taught in American schools, which is why our elected officials caved in to Turkish threats and tabled a vote on a symbolic resolution to acknowledge the 20th century’s first crime against humanity.
"It is ignorance that produces abominable situations. It is not knowledge," insists Sarkozy.