Sarkozy: Fifth Graders Should Learn About the Life of 1 of the 10,000 French Children Killed in the Holocaust

Earlier last month, French President Nicholas Sarkozy proposed that every fifth grader learn about the life story of one of the 11,000 French children killed by the Nazi in the Holocaust.

“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,” Mr. Sarkozy said at the end of a dinner speech to France’s Jewish community on Wednesday night. He added that every French child should be “entrusted with the memory of a French child-victim of the Holocaust.”

Needless to say, his plan was controversial. His political opponents derided the idea, psychologists and educators claimed that it would traumatize the students. One Holocaust survivor noted:

“It is unimaginable, unbearable, tragic and above all, unjust,” Simone Veil, a Holocaust survivor and honorary president of the Foundation for the Memory of the Holocaust, told the Web site of the magazine L’Express. “You cannot inflict this on little ones of 10 years old! You cannot ask a child to identify with a dead child. The weight of this memory is much too heavy to bear.”


I came about this story from a thought-provoking post by Jessica Helfand of Design Observer. She wrote:

Meanwhile, schoolchildren are typically taught history by fact and by date. They memorize key battles and identify significant acts of legislation, a process intended to highlight those benchmarks of civilization with which we should all aspire to fluency. Curiously, the notion that making history human would devalue such learning seems odd, if not entirely oxymoronic: if we read and analyze fiction to come to a better understanding of our own humanity, why would we not derive similar lessons from our own history?


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When for the first time my 10 yr old and I bought the book for him to read I had some serious thoughts about him (my child and his psyche) being exposed to humanity's atrocities.

->Will mankind actually ever cease to war by him and others reading this book?

->After 1945 have wars actually stopped along with it's violence? (I served in one my self for the U.S)

->Living in America why not touch the subjects of Native American Indians (Trail of Tears) , Slavery and Racism in America and The Dicovery Of America or Was it the Invading of America by Europeans sponsored in part by the Catholic Church.

Conclusion: I feel that mankind will not change or evolve spiritually no matter how many religions come and go look at the facts. So why expose an innocent 10 yr old almost virgin mind to horror of that extent?
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What i'm curious about is why Nicholas Sarkozy, a Roman Catholic ( Non-jew ) propose that every fifth grader learn about the life story of one of the 11,000 French children killed by the Nazi in the Holocaust.

Is it because it was the greatest tragedy to happen to france? I doubt it.

Looks to me like Nicholas Sarkozy is trying to win the votes of the jew community. Smells like ellections.
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Well, this makes me feel really old!

When I was in elementary school three of our teachers had survived the holocaust as children. Now that I think about it, they're probably 70-80 years old and kids today, and even many Neatorama readers who are adults had no or maybe just one holocaust survivor for a teacher. Let me tell you though, nothing woke you up like Mr. Schmetterling rolling up his sleeves to work on a project and seeing this faded old tattoo on his arm. Then that pause while some idiot girl who never gave history a moment's thought asked why he had a tattoo of numbers on his arm. Then we heard about the last time he saw his mother, father and his three sisters and how he was strong, so strong that the Nazis needed him to dig sewer ditches and then it was off with his shoes to see his two remaining toes on his right foot. Kids can't deal with that? Try growing up in an integrated neighborhood in the 1970s, holocaust survivors were everywhere.
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When I was twelve, my mother thought it was very important for me to see Schindler's List because it brought to life the truth of human evil. It was a hard movie to see because it hid very little, but it also allowed my mother and me to have a long conversation as to why it is terribly important to remember the atrocities of the past in order to recognize and stop atrocities of the present.
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