Free Markets, Free People


I’m stunned every now and then when I see a story like this.  By the way this isn’t an indictment of Germany, necessarily, its not the only country in which you’ll find such knowledge gaps.  Japan has hidden its atrocities during WWII as well.  In fact, most countries would prefer not to discuss such behavior.  

But it sure makes it hard to say “Never again” and have it mean anything if part of the population doesn’t know what it refers too.

One in five young Germans has no idea that Auschwitz was a Nazi death camp, a poll released Wednesday showed, two days ahead of Holocaust memorial day.

Although 90 percent of those asked did know it was a concentration camp, the poll for Thursday’s edition of Stern news magazine revealed that Auschwitz meant nothing to 21 percent of 18-29 year olds.

And nearly a third of the 1,002 people questioned last Thursday and Friday for the poll were unaware that Auschwitz was in today’s Poland.

Maybe it’s not significant that 21% didn’t recognize a name that is so identified with concentration camps that it could be a synonym.  Perhaps it is good enough that 90% of the total knew it was a concentration camp.  Or does it signal that the shame and the knowledge of the shame brought to Germany by the Nazis is beginning to fade (of course my guess is if you asked the question of the same demographic here in the US, the percentage to which the name would mean nothing would probably be higher)? 

Or, does it perhaps point to a demographic in which a portion is so self-absorbed that history like that represented by Auschwitz simply doesn’t register?

I wonder at times, as I watch the WWII era dim as veterans die off, whether things like D-Day and its import or Pearl Harbor will even get a mention in a few years.  

But back to the poll.  If ever there is something every German school kid should know about it is the Nazi era.  If ever there was a subject to which they should be exposed, to include all of the atrocities by that regime, it is the subject of Germany and Nazism. 

I can’t help but believe, and I don’t know it for sure, that the subject gets taught but it isn’t something that is lingered over by schools.  And I wonder how sanitized it has become now days. 

The fact that a fifth of the young demographic said the name “Auschwitz” had no meaning for them has thinking it is both short and sanitized when presented.  

Wonder if they knew the name “Dachau” (10 mines northwest of Munich).


Twitter: @McQandO

48 Responses to Stunning

  • It’s always interesting to see how countries try to hide their past. Japan doesn’t put anything about the Rape of Nanking in their history books. Germany has some strange (unconstitutional by US standards) laws about the handling of information about the old National Socialist Party (AKA the Nazis). In the US, Black families used to hide stories of the KKK from their children (especially for some odd reason back in the 1980’s) which left them ignorant of who and what the KKK was (now, of course, the trademarks of the KKK are owned by the Southern Poverty Law Center who protects them better that Coke protects the “Formula”).

  • I wonder what the results of a survey of German kids would tell us about their understanding of East Germany. Bet that is LESS taught than the Reich.

    Frankfort School “critical history” seems not to have a big following in other nations. Which COULD be good.

  • It’s not good, but is it hiding history? I wonder how much important US history the 18-29 group doesn’t know? I’m guessing quite a bit.

  • Are we better? The Republicans are the pro-slavery party from what I’m led to understand.

  • I wonder how many Americans know what “The Trail of Tears” signifies.

    • @newshutz Isn’t “The Trail of Tears” the latest album by Lady GaGa ?

    • @newshutz My reaction to the SOTUS…???

    • @newshutz More than used to know, I think. It’s not a very northern thing, but hey, where I grew up the Civil War was OVER, it wasn’t until I moved south that I found out it was “really too soon to tell”.

    • @newshutz Understand your point and don’t dispute it, however, the Trail of Tears was in the 1830s, Auschwitz still has survivors alive today. I guess the atrocities of the Nazis made such an impression on me that I’m stunned there’s anyone in the world that doesn’t know the name “Auschwitz”, especially a German.

      • @Bruce McQuain @newshutz Hell, I can think of 4 camps with a minimal amount of effort.
        Dachau, Auzchwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Treblinka (yeah, I know, Treblinka wasn’t IN Germany).

        • @looker @Bruce @newshutz Actually, Treblinka and Auzchwitz are in Poland

        • Ah, but it was not considered “Poland” during salient parts of the 20th Century! It all depends on who you ask…

        • @Neo_ @Bruce @newshutz Thank you for the correction.
          That may explain some of it, I suppose….but I’m having a hard time believing that’s a decent excuse.

      • @Bruce McQuain Certainly, Germans not knowing about Auschwitz is worse than Americans not knowing about the Trail of Tears.

  • Maybe this has something to do with this …

    The 1995 Data Protection Directive already gives EU citizens certain rights over their data.

    The new proposals go further than the 1995 directive, especially in regard to the control they give citizens over their personal information. Chief among the new proposals is a “right to be forgotten” that will allow people to demand that organizations that hold their data delete that data, as long as there is no legitimate grounds to hold it.

    Hmmm. The “right to be forgotten” ? I wonder if that would apply to dead voters as well.

    • @Neo_ No, I think it just has far more to do with parents and grandparents not wanting to go anywhere near talking about how Uncle Fritz worked somewhere in Poland for a while, or having to explain how people really like snappy jodhpurs back in the 30s. Also there is a great mass of immigrants in Germany whose kids would not give a second thought to the Holocaust and would easily add to the numbers of ignorant native German kids in a survey.

      As an EU citizen it is kind of nice that some of the dumbass law making gets something useful. An Austrian guy used the law against Facebook to find out what they had on him even. Being able to force deletion of data should at least help keep some of those muppets partially honest.

      • @DocD @Neo_ “Also there is a great mass of immigrants in Germany whose kids would not give a second thought to the Holocaust…”

        The European one or the Armenian one…??? Got to be specific, ya know…

        • @Ragspierre @Neo_ Potatoe potato… I think we need a Professor of Germophilia to clear that one up with some good old school Frankfurters.

        • @DocD @Ragspierre @Neo_ He’d tell McQ he was a victim of outdated 20th century thinking.

        • @looker @Ragspierre @Neo_ Oh yeah definitely very 20th C. This is how we should be approaching thinking about the Holocaust with some real left-field alternative reality thinking:

          “We’ll never know what would have happened had the US not gotten involved; the winners write the history books and it’s unquestioned conventional wisdom that WWII was a ‘good war.’ I’m not sure; perhaps if the US had not embraced going to war we could have been in a position to prevent the holocaust”

        • @DocD @Ragspierre @Neo_ An Erb inspired alternative – “World War ii would have ended more quickly if the US hadn’t gotten involved, and Hitler would have eventually been overthrown by his people and the Japanese East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere would have learned to become more moderate once they had established trading relationships with the countries they liberated from Western Imperial control. There were elements at work in both countries, mostly young people between the ages of 18 and 25 who had access to typewriters who were rising up and working for change when the US got involved and prolonged the war.”

        • @looker @Ragspierre @Neo_ Nice work. I have to admit I cheated and went and got an authentic Erb quote, but you sound more Erbilicious than the real deal.

        • @DocD @Ragspierre @Neo_ Holy Crap, he SAID that? For real?

        • @looker @Ragspierre @Neo_ Yep, 24 carat Erb. No matter how I look at it I can’t see the rationale even with the rosiest Erbworld spectacles on. I think we need access to one of his advanced classes to “get” this one.

        • @DocD @Ragspierre @Neo_ I was riffing off his Saddam was soon doomed by Arab Spring without us ever doing anything.

        • @looker @Ragspierre @Neo_ I think the Prof gets a good deal of his riff by way of a fat spliff.

        • @DocD @Ragspierre @Neo_ He never does quite grasp the whole Pearl Harbor thing does he. You suppose he KNOWS about Pearl Harbor?

          What were we thinking that day, when we ’embraced going to war’? We musta been nutz.

        • @looker @Ragspierre @Neo_ Well you did have the evil republican president, FDR, who maneuvered Japan into starting a war with a near crippling blow to the Navy. And he was even more ingenious in managing to get Hitler to declare war on the USA. You see if you’d just not “embraced” the war then you’d not have been supplying Britain and the USSR in their darkest hours and in all likelihood they’d have been forced to terms and that would have prevented the holocaust… somehow… you would have just had to ignore the sinking of American shipping by the Kriegsmarine and the IJN, just don’t embrace them!

  • Twenty years I ago I said that most American students wouldn’t be able to find North America on a map of North America.

    This news about Germans doesn’t surprise me. I’m only surprised the percentage isn’t higher.

  • “In fact, most countries would prefer not to discuss such behavior…”

    Via Radley Balko – The Tennessee TEA Party would prefer not to discuss certain things either.

    • @PogueMahone – yeah, I sense a guy who wants African Americans to be grateful that their forefathers were ‘given the opportunity’ to come to America.

      • @looker @PogueMahone I think you can find Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell saying pretty much exactly that. I don’t think they endorse slavery.

        • @Ragspierre @PogueMahone I understand the concept, it’s the silver lining to a dark cloud, and I realize it IS reality. But it’s pretty brutal math, especially when I consider the number who got on the ship on one side, and got off before they got to the other side, and that’s not counting what happened to them when they landed. So I’m not prepared to be the one to tell them they’re better off. If Sowell and Williams want to do that math, they have the right, I don’t.

          It’s like saying the Irish are better off today because they were conquered by the English (this coming from a descendent of the bastards and legitimate heirs the Normans left all over Ireland). It’s a ‘what is’ but it doesn’t take into account a lot of ‘what if’s’.

        • @looker @Ragspierre @PogueMahone That sort of counterfactual game can’t lead anywhere. Sure your average AfroAmerican today is better off than his genetic cousins today in Africa. But since that same average guy would not exist if slavery hadn’t existed it is all rather moot, so the horror inflicted on his ancestors really does nothing to prove he would not be better off it had not had happened. All you can say is that as an individual today he is better off because somehow he got born in the USA. Like myself, I would not exist today if my great-great-grandparents had not been forced out of Scotland in the Highland clearances, so I can’t really say I’d be better off if that hadn’t happened. And I can’t say I am better off today because WW2 happening meant my grandparents reproduced when they did, or that I am better off due to WW1 because my great-grandfather survived the horror of Gallipoli. These terrible things happened to individuals in the past and I can’t claim benefit from those sufferings because if they had not indeed happened, I would not exist. I suppose we don’t want to think of our ancestors suffering in vain, but since they really had no choice in the matter the best we can do is know what happened and try and prevent it happening again… otherwise you’re left sitting aside saying things like “it’ll all work out in the end, history is getting better, they are suffering now but in the future it’ll be better for their children”

        • @DocD @looker @PogueMahone I don’t think that was quite the point. As I understood them, they were saying that when cultures collide there is a huge amount of turbulence, and turbulence sweeps people forward as well as back. Again, on my gradient theme, the greater the differences in the advancement of the colliding cultures, the greater the turbulence. That seems clearly born out in history.

          As Americans, we certainly were never immune to human nature. Duh. But, as a people, if someone was going to conquer, enslave, war against, or invest in you, you would pick Americans.

        • @Ragspierre @looker @PogueMahone Oh I understand the point, I just think it is a bit ill thought out. If someone told me that my enslavement or murder today would *possibly* benefit my unborn and possibly never to exist great-grandchildren I’d tell them all to go get f***ed. We can look back now on certain aspects of history and find a silver-lining in some of them for a group of people who are descended from another group who had horrible things done to them, but that discounts all possible futures that might have occured to those that suffered. And that I think is the problem with the argument, it is kind of like the fallacious “think of the kids” rubbish put forward for global warming and other idiocy… it is an argument to force shit on people actually living (or who actually lived) to possibly, but probably not, benefit people who do not yet and might not ever exist. Of course cultures collide and some benefit to greater or lesser degrees, but I for one don’t want to thank my existence for the *involuntary* suffering (to distinguish from people whi make choices to suffer or fight for their own reason) of my ancestors since if it hadn’t happened to them it is just as likely or unlikely that someone else would be enjoying my lifestyle now. I’m not trying to sound harsh, since getting incorporated into a larger civilization that has already been through and discovered a lot of stuff is nothing to complain about.

        • @DocD @Ragspierre @PogueMahone

          The question is, did ‘the country’ learn, and would ‘the country’ do those things again. I think we’re safe on the slavery and genocide issues. We’ve come to the point where ‘the country’ used to think it was okay to force march the natives from the East Coast into the interior to a point where we’re peeved at 4 or 5 of our Marines for peeing on corpses of the enemy.

          I’d say we’ve learned, and remembered, something.

    • @PogueMahone “(The kids) are being taught (the Founding Fathers) were hypocrites and slave owners and part of the teachings about slavery was that it was inherently cruel.”

      A common lie among Collectivists is that “the Founders supported slavery”. True or false.

      “History was a very cruel, very animalistic, and very harsh institution”, Avon Rollins, who marched with Martin Luther King and now runs the Beck Cultural Exchange Center.

      Hard to know just what to say about that.

      For misef…and everybody I know…teaching the truth in a balance way is really good.

      • @Ragspierre @PogueMahone The context of the times seems to have been ignored. America was not the only country where there were slaves. It’s way to simplistic to say that all slave holders never wrestled with the moral questions, and that all free men thought slavery was wrong.
        As with any human story, there are many many variations and there’s no way in the week they probably get this in school are they going to even begin to touch on all the actual facts.

        I DO know they had a problem with it, or they would have never had to create the gag rule in Congress that prevented them from even discussing the issue.

        • @looker @PogueMahone Many of the Founders were staunch anti-slavery men.

          Even Jefferson, who owned slaves, was highly conflicted about the practice.

          Without a compromise on the slavery issue, there would have been no Constitution.

    • @PogueMahone I’m sure the Democrats will be openly discussing the fact that Obama spent twenty years in a group that pledged to treat people based on the color of their skin, but they think that’s OK.

  • Its an unintended (and maybe intended) consequence of the laws forbidding anything Nazi related in media. Its part of laws meant to suppress a resurgence of the Nazis in Germany. But its lead to their people being ignorant of the era.

  • I don’t want to sound like one of those Blame America moral equivalent leftists, but there have been numerous atrocities in our past, (including the fairly recent past) that are not exactly common knowledge.

    The Mei Lai massacre is nothing more than a footnote in modern history books, and we have all sorts of other unsavory things. Andrew Jackson is a revered figure, whose face is on our currency, but Old Hickory was a horrible murderer who committed genocide upon the five civilized tribes in direct defiance of the Supreme Court.

    The atrocities against the Indians are numerous, but then there is the little discussed incident before world war I when about a hundred black soldiers were put to death in Texas for standing up against blatant racism.

    I don’t say all of that to put down our nation, but only to say that we see ourselves often as people who are fit to right all of the wrongs of the world, but in reality we are hard pressed to just keep to our high standards of behavior within our own borders.

    • @kyle8 I think it’s important we recognize the wrong occurred, and strive to prevent it, or things like it, in the future. It’s the best we can do. Two things need to happen – we need to know about the wrong to watch for it, and we need to care enough to prevent it happening.

      Or we could, as Docd observed, just mumble that it’s all for the best because time will work it out.

  • I have to agree with those who have suggested that Germany’s legal prohibition on all things Nazi has had the (perhaps) unintended consequences of making it difficult, or possibly illegal, for rational historical discourse on the topic. Imagine if America made it illegal to consider oneself a Confederate, people would still have their allegiances, but honest public discourse by people who did not want to go to jail would, how does SCOTUS say it, have a chilling effect on people’s ability to speak about this period in history.