Around two weeks ago....some German kid, in a German school....got unnerved by an unusual trend that had started up. A couple of kids had picked up on Nazi stuff (apparently from class episodes) and had started to pass around Nazi notes/propaganda/cartoons/etc. A picture or two with them throwing "heil Hitler" salutes also got passed around. In some fashion, the kids had started up a Nazi-fan club (not my words, but those of journalists who jumped onto the story).
The complaint eventually got turned in and quickly pushed up the ladder. Last week.....cops came and wanted to interview the two prime suspects from the class involved. There may have been more....but they figured these two knew the whole story and wanted their perception of what was going on. So far, the cops won't say much of anything. You could interpret that to mean.....it was a joke that got out of hand, or they were naively passing around the stuff without thinking over consequences.
Naturally, all of this gets into the news, and gets non-Germans all upset.....the Nazi machine is starting up again.
So I reviewed the story. There are some facts which aren't really spoken much over.
The class group involved? A gymnamsium? That's a higher-level German high school which usually educates the gifted kids who are destined for college or university. It's the place for idiots or marginal students.
The location? This is in Leipzig....an area of former DDR or former East Germany. If you aren't familiar with DDR eduational resources from that whole era (1945-1990)......they tended to be fairly negative about Nazis, and blamed West Germany for Nazi affairs. If you had walked around and met a hundred DDR residents in 1960.....the vast majority would have expressed a negative talk over Nazis.
German schools have a pre-packaged history lesson to cover the past two thousand years. A German kid spends a lot of time over Roman history. The 1930s era? It's barely covered, and very tightly organized with the right facts to pepper the high school kids, and lead discussions only in one single direction. The theme is always "Nazis are bad".
All of this brings to this odd event in Leipzig, and wondering if the instructor in the class was a new guy and briefly left the Core-like agenda and led topics that went beyond the norm. Smart kids ask smart questions and want to see beyond the normal view of things. It's entirely possible that the kids saw the whole thing as joke, and the Nazi-salute thing was just part of the joke, along with the cartoons.
Of course, our response would be that this is a terrible joke and it's the beginning of the new Nazi era in Germany.
Some Americans would lead the whole topic around to the fact that Germans are socialists, and by gutting the Bible and Christianity.....they are inviting the Nazis right back into the whole discussion. This conversation becomes amusing because the same crowd when asked to define the Thirty-Years War....they just look at you. The bulk of the Thirty-Years War....is mostly about a fight between Catholics and Protestants.....over who will run the countryside, and their success was based on a dead-body count (something rarely explained by high school teachers or history professors). The natural tendency of Germans to question any religion....comes out of this era, and has nothing to do with Nazis.
So, when you hear this little episode come up.....about a couple of German kids doing the 'heil Hitler' salute.....this is the bulk of the story. Not really something to get all peppy about.