Radical beliefs and violent hatred are back in the headlines and worrying policymakers around the world. This column discusses new research that suggests that, in the case of Nazi Germany, subjecting an entire population to the full power of a totalitarian state was extremely effective in instilling lasting hatred. Extremist views are still three times higher among Germans born in the 1930s than those born after 1950. However, family and the social environment can isolate young minds from the effects of indoctrination at least to some extent.
Children were influenced by schools, films, newspapers, books, and the (compulsory) extracurricular activities in the ‘Hitler Youth’ (Evans 2006). Nazi schooling was extreme in its emphasis on the alleged racial superiority of Aryans, and the ‘evil character’ of Jews. Children were taught that Jews and other races were inferior to Aryans, and such beliefs infected the curriculum from math to biology.
One mathematics exercise read “The Jews are aliens in Germany – in 1933 there were 66,060,000 inhabitants in the German Reich, of whom 499,682 were Jews. What is the per cent of aliens?”Figure 1 shows a classroom where the teacher points to the hand-written memento “The Jew is our greatest enemy. Beware of the Jews”, while two Jewish pupils are standing in front of their classmates, looking down
Schooling is key. Sets beliefs for manya years. There is a reason why state is so interested in setting curriculums to shape their agenda..