Thursday, October 1, 2015

Norway: Students taught about Nazism without antisemitism

Harald Syse of the Norwegian Center for Studies of the Holocaust and Religious Minorities writes in Aftenposten that Norwegian schoolbooks often portray antisemitism as Hitler's personal view, and not as a major part of Nazi ideology.

In other countries the Holocaust is often "de-Judaized" and Jews are portrayed as random victims, which in turn leads students to thinking that Jews must have done something bad and deserved what they got.

Syse analyzed eight Norwegian schoolbooks and divided them into three groups

1. The Holocaust was a personal issue for Hitler - Hitler was a failed artist and blamed the Jews for it.  This ignores the fact that Hitler saw the Jews as a threat to the Aryan race (and to the world).  It also teaches students that Hitler was a one-time deviation and that antisemitism is therefore no longer a problem.

2. Antisemitism is a type of racism - And so students ask themselves why Jews get "special treatment".  This ignores the fact that antisemitism is often based on a massive conspiracy theory.

The Nazis believed in an apocalyptic conspiracy in which the devious Jews planned to take over the world and enslave everybody else.  Unlike simple racism, where other races are looked down upon, in the case of antisemitism Jews are simultaneously looked down upon and also feared as a powerful enemy.

3. Jews were blamed for both capitalism and communism.  While dealing with the conspiracy-theory aspects of antisemitism, Syses says that this group does not fully explain what is going on.

Overall, antisemitism is not explained as a phenomenon, is not put into a European context and is not presented as a pervasive part of Nazism.   The Norwegian educational system encourages the myth that Nazis did not really believe in antisemitism but rather used it as a tool to achieve their goals.

It is important to note that the article attracted quite a few antisemitic comments.  

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