“And Now We Say, ‘Heil Hitler’”
How would you feel if you discovered your third grader marched to the cafeteria giving the Nazi salute? That’s what happened late last year in a Vermont public school.
“The children were standing with their [right] arm[s] out in front of them and the teacher was modeling the position,” District Superintendent Ned Kirsch told parents. “She then raised her arm slightly and said, ‘And now we say, Heil Hitler,’” reported Fox News. The veteran substitute teacher was immediately fired and prohibited from returning to campus.
A few days later, a similar report emerged from Georgia. Parents complained a middle school teacher assigned her students the bizarre task of creating a Nazi party mascot. The assignment read, “The year is 1935 and you have been tasked with creating a mascot to represent the Nazi party at its political rallies. Think about all of the information that you have learned about Hitler and the Nazi party. You will create a COLORFUL illustration of the mascot. Give the mascot a NAME. You will also write an explanation as to why the mascot was chosen to represent the Nazi Party.”
The Gwinnett County School District admitted this homework assignment fell outside the school’s social-studies curriculum and was inappropriate.
Although no evidence has emerged to show these teachers to be Nazi sympathizers, their inexcusable actions reveal an insolent attitude toward the Holocaust of World War II and the 6 million Jewish men, women, and children who lost their lives in this strategically planned extermination of an entire race.
Children are impressionable and must be taught properly. Hitler knew the value of reaching them early. At age 10 boys and girls in the Third Reich entered the Young Folk and later the Hitler Youth. From 1933 to 1936, membership in the Hitler Youth soared from 50,000 to 5.4 million.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Do we want our teachers training our children to say “Heil Hitler”? Do we want them assigning homework that connects the genocidal Nazi agenda to a mascot—a good-luck symbol used in sports to promote team spirit and unity? Is this appalling type of instruction the future of Holocaust education in America?
As it stands, the United States has no nationally mandated Holocaust-education curriculum. State and local governments have that responsibility. Today only eight states require proper Holocaust education: Florida, New Jersey, California, Illinois, New York, Indiana, Michigan, and Rhode Island.
A bipartisan bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives commending those states and encouraging more to adopt laws requiring Holocaust education. The good news is more states have made commitments to do so, but there is still a long way to go.
Now more than ever, the United States needs nationwide Holocaust education that is factual, respectful, and relevant. The number of Holocaust survivors is dwindling; and as they die and their personal accounts become secondhand stories, the movement to rewrite history and embrace Holocaust denial grows stronger.
Only a third of the global population today believes the historical accounts of this atrocity, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Yet Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who commanded the Allied forces during World War II and later became the 34th president of the United States, wrote,
The things I saw beggar description. While I was touring the [concentration] camp…the visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, [Gen.] George Patton would not even enter. He said he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to “propaganda.”
If we want to train up our children properly, we need a proper Holocaust curriculum in all 50 states; or we may hear many more stories like those coming out of Vermont and Georgia.