– Germans enlist Hitler comic book to fight far-right in
By Michael Christie
BONN, Sept 27 (Reuter) – Blood streams from the nostrils of
murdered Jews. German troops burn men, women and children to
death in a French village church. German bombers soar over London’s St
These are just three of 200 pages describing World War Two
and the Holocaust in a comic book which the Germans plan to use in
their campaign to take the fight against neo-Nazi violence into the
“Hitler – The Comic Book”, charts the rise and fall of Adolf
Hitler to show youngsters how he became a Nazi and why the same
thing might occur again.
“The Third Reich is as remote to schoolchildren as the Middle
Ages,” said Bodo Franzmann of the Reading Foundation, which used
the comic in a pilot study involving 600 pupils.
“Much of the racist violence we see today can be traced to
ignorance,” he added.
Since unification in 1990, Germany has seen a surge of
neo-Nazi violence in which 28 people have been killed.
In November last year, two Turkish girls and an elderly woman
were burned to death in an attack by right-wingers in Moelln. In
May, in the worst act of violence against foreigners this year, five
Turks died in a fire-bomb attack in Solingen.
The German authorities say there is alarming evidence that
neo-Nazi gangs are trying to form a national alliance.
Chancellor Helmut Kohl believes children must be told in no
uncertain terms that the Nazis were a disgrace to Germany.
“That involves explaining the historical facts, of which they
are startlingly ignorant,” he said recently.
The Reading Foundation study found that before reading the
comic a quarter of the children believed that Hitler would be judged
more favourably by future generations.
The same percentage thought Germany needed Hitler at the time
to improve its standing in the world and that unemployment in the
1930s was chiefly to blame for his rise to power.
“We felt we had to do something,” said Tilman Ernst of the
Federal Centre for Political Education, which is about to send
the comic to 500 schools.
The comic, written by Friedemann Beduerftig and illustrated
by Dieter Kalenbach, is an attempt to set the record straight.
“Fifty-five million war dead, six million victims of the
German death-ovens, many more starved to death, the missing, the
tortured, 12 million refugees…
“Uncountable numbers of decimated families, countries
destroyed, a whole continent in rubble — a tragedy that cannot be
understood in just words and numbers,” said Beduerftig.
The pictures, he says, convey a sense of reality that
heavy-going academic texts had failed to get through.
The comic is part of a study pack covering the Third Reich
that includes a computer game teaching children how to be resistance
fighters under a dictatorship.
The book makes it clear a majority of voters supported
Hitler. It says many Germans knew Jews were disappearing and some supported
the “Final Solution” of killing all Jews.
“Hitler was one of the few dictators who enjoyed the full
support of the overwhelming majority of the ruled,” wrote Beduerftig in
“And yet, Hitler got all the blame and Germany was regarded
as his first victim,” he added.
A survey after the children had read the book showed they
were less ready to find excuses for the Nazis, said Franzmann. They
realised that those who closed their eyes were also to blame.
“Hitler didn’t just fall from the sky,” Franzmann added.
The comic tells of Hitler’s anger at being rejected as an art
student in Vienna, for which he he blamed the Jews.
In graphic red and black — the colours Hitler chose for
National Socialism — the book tells its readers that the swastika emblem
was chosen by the Nazis as a lucky charm.
Hitler’s gangs beat up Communists and trade unionists. A
whole history of literature goes up in smoke as “decadent” books are
burned outside the universities.
Everywhere, Hitler’s face with its trademark moustache and
shock of hair spouts hate-filled slogans taken from real life.
Then comes the Holocaust, in gruesome detail, and finally the
“I was chosen to make history,” the Nazi dictator says before
committing suicide in Berlin.
“The message will hardly reach neo-Nazis, let alone change
them,” Beduerftig wrote in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. “But it
may dam the supply of future recruits to the far-right cause.”
The comic has been well received.
“This `Hitler’ may have come at just the right time,” said
the Deutsches Allgemeines Sonntagsblatt newspaper.
Archive/File: people/h/hitler.adolf/press comic.book
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