Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Sociopathic Generation

There are times where I am absolutely appalled by the inappropriate reactions I receive from my students when I try to discuss some subjects in my 8th grade U.S. History class.

I am currently teaching them about the War Between the States of 1861-1865, and one of the key terms we discussed was the concept of Total War; as practiced, for example, by General Sherman in Georgia.

Just about every lesson of mine is accompanied by a Power Point slideshow that is heavy on images and photos. After showing them photos of General Sherman, the skeletal remains of buildings in Richmond, and a Sherman necktie, I went to some other slides showing examples of Total War that was carried out in World War II, which was the quintessential Total War. I showed photos of B-17s dropping bombs, the burned-out remains of the city of Dresden, and then this photo:

My students were dead silent as I explained to them that these were Soviet civilians who had been murdered by Nazi soldiers during Hitler's 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union. But then, when I added that the Japanese also carried out massacres like this against the Chinese, a good portion of my class (the last period of the day) began laughing hysterically.

I told the class that I didn't see what was funny about any of this, and that made them laugh some more. The more horrified I became at their laughing, the funnier they thought it was.

I finally sat down in the chair at my desk... defeated.

I clicked to the next slide, which had some bullet statements they needed to copy down. While they did that, the laughter started to subside as the students began to concentrate on copying down the information. As I sat there still in shock, my curiosity got the best of me, and I posed a question to the class.

"I don't understand why you guys started laughing when I told you that the Japanese did that to the Chinese. Someone please enlighten me."

A student blurted out, "We thought they was cousins!"

My God, what have we wrought?

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson


Anonymous said...

I'm stunned. I see this all the time at my high school (mind-boggling ignorance) but it is still shocking.

Ted Wozniak said...

Dear W.R. Chandler,

While I understand your frustration at such a strange reaction from your students at such horrific photos, I have another concern. War is horrific and as the old saying goes: The winner writes the history (some Orwellian sentiment).

George Orwell famously wrote:
"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."

This is never more apropos than in relation to World War II history, especially in controversial areas like the Holocaust. And never more so when it comes to the Soviets and their tendency to spin history to their liking!

And so, when the Soviets liberated the camps, after the welfare of the former inmates, their leaders' next concern was how this could be used as propaganda against the Gerns. Many films and photos were taken, but only the ones which showed bodies in their worst shape were used to "demonstrate" that the Nazis were mass murderers(we've all seen those).

From the Soviet archives, it emerges that such was not the case. Many photos used as propaganda were in fact doctored in some way. Some photos of mass graves were from other atrocities, especially Soviet ones, the classic being those from Babi Yar and Vinnitsa. (And remember, the Soviet Union admitted that the Katyn massacre - attributed to the Nazis - was perpetrated by the Soviet leadership on orders from Stalin himself).

Stalin had given an order #042 which instructed partisans to wear German uniforms and raze villages - and kill all inhabitants - up to 60km from the German front line ("scorched earth policy"), so that advancing German troops could then be blamed for the destruction.

But the story doesn't end there. The concentration camps were said to be "death camps", but what physical evidence establishes this as fact? More recently, historians were forced to admit that there were no death camps on German soil.

Soviet film footage shows the true condition of Auschwitz inmates, most of whom were relatively healthy looking.

A Rabbi spills the beans on the whole situation:

An author (RIP) who fought in the Australian army & was held in Theriesenstadt camp:

For an example of exposing fake history, please see:

Documented history of Auschwitz:

So, please take the time to look (and avoid as many land-mines as you can)