German Schoolchildren dumbed down about World War II and Nazi German atrocities
Half of GERMAN schoolchildren do not know Third Reich was a dictatorship – or that East Germany was Communist
Most pupils unaware of past were from North Rhine Westphalia – the region worst affected by bombing outside Berlin
Forty per cent are unsure whether current government is democratic
By Rick Dewsbury
PUBLISHED: 16:02, 29 June 2012 | UPDATED: 16:02, 29 June 2012
Half of German schoolchildren do not know that the Third Reich was a dictatorship, a survey has found.
More than 50 per cent of the teenagers polled were also unaware that the East German state was also a tyrannical regime run by communists.
Despite being obliged to visit a concentration camp at least once in their schooldays and learning about Hitler’s seizure of power, German students showed a lack of knowledge about their roots.
The widespread ignorance is detailed in a study called, ‘Late Victory of the Dictatorships?’ after a recent survey conducted by researchers at the Free University in Berlin.
‘This is shocking,’ said study author Klaus Schroeder.
More than 7,500 school pupils aged around 15 were asked how they viewed the various governments that have ruled Germany.
Only around half were definite that the Nazi government was a dictatorship – despite the country at the time being ruled ruthlessly by one party from 1933 to 1945.
Just over a third were certain that the former East German government – established by the Russians and controlled between 1949 and 1990- was also a communist dictatorship.
Only about half said the former West German government was a democracy.
A deceased honorary ceremony held during the ‘Reichstag’ in Nuremberg with Adolf Hitler, second from right, in 1935
Astonishingly, only around 60 per cent were certain that the current united German government was democratic.
‘The low estimation of historical knowledge is clearly having an effect,’ Mr Schroeder added.
‘These students have almost no political knowledge at all. They have no idea about words like “Meinungsfreiheit” [freedom of speech] nor of concepts like human rights,’
‘The schools really should take action.’
German schoolchildren have to visit a concentration camp such as Auschwitz, pictured, at least once, but they were still ignorant of the country’s past
The students most able to tell the difference between dictatorship and democracy were in the former eastern states of Thuringia and Saxony Anhalt, while those with the least idea were from the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia – Germany’s most populated, and the most damaged by bombing aside from Berlin in WW2.
The Third Reich is the name that was given to Germany while Hitler ruled the country from 1933.
Immediately after coming to power, Hitler destroyed all political opposition was eliminated – a hallmark of a totalitarian regime.
The Gestapo – secret state police – and the SS obliterated liberals, socialists and communists.
This was followed by the holocaust, in which Jews were slaughtered.