President Nicolas Sarkozy dropped an intellectual bombshell this week, surprising the nation and touching off waves of protest with his revision of the school curriculum: beginning next fall, he said, every fifth grader will have to learn the life story of one of the 11,000 French children killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust.
“Nothing is more moving, for a child, than the story of a child his own age, who has the same games, the same joys and the same hopes as he, but who, in the dawn of the 1940s, had the bad fortune to be defined as a Jew,” Mr. Sarkozy said at the end of a dinner speech to France’s Jewish community on Wednesday night. He added that every French child should be “entrusted with the memory of a French child-victim of the Holocaust.”
Adding to the national fracas over the announcement, Mr. Sarkozy wrapped his plan in the cloak of religion, placing blame for the wars and violence of the last century on an “absence of God” and calling the Nazi belief in a hierarchy of races “radically incompatible with Judeo-Christian monotheism.”
Education Minister Xavier Darcos explained later that the aim of the plan was to “create an identification between a child of today and one of the same age who was deported and gassed.”
The Holocaust is already taught in French schools, but some psychiatrists and educators predicted that requiring students to identify with a specific victim would traumatize them.
Pascal Bruckner, the philosopher[, said] “But this last one is truly obscene, the very opposite of spirituality. Let’s judge it for what it is: a crazy proposal of the president, not the word of the Gospel.”
The initiative has also pitted some Jews against one another. “It is unimaginable, unbearable, tragic and above all, unjust,” Simone Veil, a Holocaust survivor and honorary president of the Foundation for the Memory of the Holocaust, told the Web site of the magazine L’Express. “You cannot inflict this on little ones of 10 years old! You cannot ask a child to identify with a dead child. The weight of this memory is much too heavy to bear.” Ms. Veil was in the audience when Mr. Sarkozy spoke, and said that when she heard his words, “My blood turned to ice.”
I don't think so.
I think most children read children's books and children's books have stories in them that, weel, according to French philosphers, could traumatize. Like "Huckleberry Finn" where in the book, for example, "all of the remaining Grangerford males are shot and killed, and upon seeing Buck's corpse, Huck is too devastated to write about everything that happened."