Teaching Hitler more than a teaching, a moral imperative

Enseigner Hitler plus qu’un enseignement, un impératif moralAlexandra Oeser book with Teach Hitler. Adolescents face the nazi past in Germany (Editions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme, Collection of she benefits from any, 2010), a book of great wealth. His subject : the constitution and the transmission of the memory of the period of national-socialist germany. The nazi past, more than any other is built collectively. The author in this work deals with the uses differentiated from the nazi past by the German teenagers aged 14 to 18, depending on their age, sex, social path, interests and political commitments, daily activities and school and extra-curricular. It is, therefore, to propose a reflection on the constitution of the memory contexts, the institutionalization and transmission of the Story.

Here the author chooses to think of the institution of the school as the media and the social framework of the (re)-appropriations teenagers of the past, because what is at stake is what are the adolescents with the past : rejection, denial, or, on the contrary, bulimia of readings on the period, unswerving commitment and active ownership of the story. The survey of Alexandra Oeser relies on a work of ethnographic fieldwork conducted through interviews and observations over three years in four schools of the second degree : two in Hamburg, two in Leipzig in the former democratic Republic. The four shortlisted institutions have institutional profiles and sociological differentiated both for their establishment and recruitment

How to transmit the nazi past for the future generations ? Behind this question is bed the anxiety of forgetfulness of the past (it is palpable in the speeches of the teachers interviewed, but also among the students). The presence of the nazi past in the German media, in institutions and in textbooks is the challenge : to train generations of students aware and armed when faced with the weight of the nazi past. As shown in Alexandra Oeser in the first chapter, the teaching of history nazi is meant to be in the service of democracy.

True moral imperative, the national, the teaching of the nazi past must allow the evacuation of neo-nazism : it relies on the transmission of values of tolerance, rejection of anti-semitism and racism, and works by appeal to emotion.1. The author gives an account of the special place it occupies in Germany the history of the nazi past : “we must remember” from the past nazi2, it is still necessary to remember it in a way just to ” do it in a way that Auschwitz does not happen again “. There are “good” ways of speaking of the nazi past : Alexandra Oeser shows that the réappropriations the most legitimate of the nazi past are corollaries to educational success. The author is attentive to the social paths that enable the development of reports, the more legitimate the nazi past (chapter 2), it also focuses on the appropriation process little school of the nazi past (those who do not ” want to hear any more of him “) (chapter 5), those who use the nazi past as a resource, according to the sense of legitimate (chapter 4).

Among the reports differentiated to the nazi past that Alexandra Oeser emerges, it should be noted the importance of the genus (chapter 3). Uses female and male of the history of nazism are differentiated : sources of information, degree of commitment… If the girls show a strong interest in the novels on the jewish genocide, autobiographies on nazism, the boys do little to encourage the novel’s form to inform. The interest of the girls is on the victims, while boys will be interested in the battles, the military strategies… We find this cleavage of its kind among the professors interviewed.

In total, the author delivers a book informed and balanced, which allows it to work the question of memory from a sociological point of view. We may note finally the existence of a system of annexes complete listing the socio-demographic information on the interviewees (teachers and students). It is also one of the strong points of the book that always contextualize the words of the respondents, extensively quoted, in the reference to the occupations of the parents and grand-parents, which enables the player to always have in mind the social characteristics of the respondents.

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