Sarkozy drops Holocaust education proposal after uproar

28th February 2008, Comments 1 comment

French President has dropped a proposal for Holocaust remembrance that would have seen 10-year-olds learn the life stories of children killed by the Nazis.

   PARIS, Feb 28, 2008 - French President Nicolas Sarkozy has dropped a
proposal for Holocaust remembrance that would have seen 10-year-olds learn the
life stories of children killed by the Nazis, a former minister said Wednesday.
   Sarkozy had set off an outcry from Jewish activists, psychologists and
leftwing politicians earlier this month when he made the proposal in an
address to French Jewish leaders.
   The government will explore other avenues to "encourage children in
classrooms to look at, not other children in particular, but rather a given
situation in a given city," said former minister Simone Veil, a Holocaust
survivor who had criticised the proposal.
   Under the original plan, every schoolchild was to be given the name of a
Jewish deportee and tasked with investigating the family, surroundings and the
circumstances in which the child disappeared.
   Critics called the proposal misguided, saying it could stir up resentment
among other sectors of society and be traumatic for young children.
   Veil herself had assailed the proposal as "unimaginable, unbearable and
unjust," saying 10-year-olds should not have to identify with dead children.
   She had later agreed to join a task force put together by Education
Minister Xavier Darcos to look at the proposal more closely.
   Following a meeting with the education ministry on Wednesday, Veil said
"nothing specific has been decided but we all want to improve on what is
already being well done by teachers."
   Some 11,500 children died in the Holocaust among the 75,000 Jews who were
deported in World War II. Nearly all died in the extermination camps at
Auschwitz and elsewhere.
   A number of French schools today bear plaques at their entrance describing
the number of former students sent to concentration camps and where many died.


1 Comment To This Article

  • Lisa Benson posted:

    on 29th February 2008, 19:33:51 - Reply

    This program should not be thrown out entirely; it would be a good idea for older children. In the Holocaust museum in Washington DC all people entering are given a "passport" bearing the name, bio and photo of a holocaust victim, as though you were that person. It is a very effective way to remind you that the victims were real people and that this horror could have happened to you. It is important that people keep the individual human faces in mind when discussing horrible events like the Holocaust so that they do not become merely words or distant and disembodied historical events. The tragedy, fear and cruelty of this enormous event were visited on, and perpetrated by, real flesh-and-blood individuals, each with his or her own life story. Those who forget this are doomed to repeat it.