Archive/File: fascism nwt.102193-2 Last-Modified: 1993/10/21 GOVERNMENT USE OF COMIC BOOK TO TEACH STUDENTS ABOUT NAZIS MAY HAVE BACKFIRED washington, oct. 21 (nca) - the following article By CRAIG R. WHITNEY appears today in the new york times: BONN - The experimental use of a comic book to help German high school students understand the roots of Nazism has been halted by a government agency out of fear that it might unintentionally make neo-Nazis out of some of them instead. "It was an embarrassing mistake," said Wolfgang Arnold, deputy director of the Federal Center for Political Education in Bonn. In the book, "Hitler," the actual words of Hitler, Goebbels, and other leaders accompany full-page, colored-pencil drawings of the Nazi rise to power, the torture of Jews and political opponents of the Nazis in concentration camps, and blood-drenched depictions of the war. For three years, the center had sponsored the use of the comic book as a supplementary text for history classes involving more than 900 10th-grade students in two different states in Germany. The project supervisor, Tilman Ernst, judged the experiment a success and prepared 5,000 copies of a teaching package, with posters, color slides and other materials for class discussions. Ernst had begun answering requests for the package from schools around Germany and spent nearly $300,000 on the project when the center's newly elected leadership looked into it last month and ordered it halted. The incident reflects the sensitivity among Germans and their neighbors about the way the country should deal with its past. German law forbids the reproduction or distribution of Nazi propaganda, including Hitler's own works, though historians elsewhere are free to consult and quote from them. The book itself, written by the German author Friedemann Bedurftig and published by Carlsen Verlag in Hamburg, is available in bookstores and is not being withdrawn. Arnold said that big color posters drawn from the book, showing scenes like Hitler surrounded by adoring blond-haired young people or burning books, could easily have been pulled out of the teaching package and used as neo-Nazi propaganda by sympathizers. Arnold said that he had been horrified by the potential for misuse. The center halted distribution of the comic-book package after Rita Sussmuth, the president of the German Parliament, alerted federal officials to a complaint from the Israeli Embassy. "The recommendation of the board was to revise the package, and the president of our agency still hopes it can eventually be used," Arnold said. "I personally think we should just write it off.
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