19 October 2006

Policies concerning history

This is the German Studies Section at the academic Waterstone's. The bookshop's about the size of the Amadeus (I refuse to call it Thalia) in Mariahilferstra├če and has 5 floors (the ceilings are very low, it's an old building) of, well, everything you seek from (Fine) Arts, Business, History, Humanities, Social Sciences to Law. What is particularly striking to me is that the Anthropology Section is almost larger than the reference section (Freihandaufstellung) in my former institute in Vienna!!!
Anyway, among other things I found a German Studies section which you see above. I thought, "Hm, let's see what they've got here". According to the display of books you see (click on the images to enlarge) someone might get the idea that german history only started in 1933.
Sam told me (I forgot to mention that all english speaking natives in my flat have learnt german for at least some time in school) that in the US, when you tell someone you're from Germany, it is very likely that you are met with the prejudice of being a nazi. Someone made a similar remark to him when he said that he studied German and the other person was like "Oh, why are you studying German? Are you a nazi?" The funny bit about the story is, that Sam has jewish ancestors and even a german surname.
When I explained that in Austria and probably in Germany as well, the nazi period is taught very seriously in schools, Sam informed me that the Vietnam War isn't covered in the US and Chris told me that he had never learnt about the British Empire! Imagine! He explained that it is believed to teach about the Empire is believed to propagate a pro-imperialistic attitude. *shaking head* To leave out the most recent events in your respective country's history is one thing but to obliterate the last 500 years is completely unbelievable!!!

2 courageous comments!:

Anonymous said...

This is Sam...from down the hall...I was trying to show my friend a certain movie of a drunken roommate, and I started reading. Anyways, I noticed that you misquoted me. I didn't say that they don't teach the Vietnam War in schools, I said that they did. The Vietnam War is, as far as I've been able to tell, considered a pretty bad idea by most people in the US, which is why it was so controversial while it was going on. So there isn't really a reason not to teach it. If you want an example of schools in the US censoring things for political reasons, then look up 'intelligent design.' Just for the record.

Heidi Jahn said...

oh, it's you! well thanks for telling me. i got it all wrong, then! i guess, i still have to get used to your accent! ;)
but the thing about the nazis are right, aren't they?