The Atlantic

Teaching the Holocaust in Germany as a Resurgent Far Right Questions It

As those who lived through it are dying off, and some people claim it never happened, what will happen to sites of remembrance?
Source: Markus Schreiber / AP

ORANIENBURG, Germany—Pulling their scarves and jackets tighter against the chill of a gray winter morning, 38 high-school students walked the grounds of the Sachsenhausen Memorial, a former Nazi concentration camp just outside Berlin.

They had come here to learn about the horrors and crimes committed at Sachsenhausen, where tens of thousands of people were murdered: the prisoners’ cramped quarters in the extreme heat or cold, their starvation after crushing hours of hard labor, the brutal treatment at the hands of their guards.

Even as the students’ tour focused on helping them understand the history of this place, however, the politics of the day inevitably crept in.

At one point, the students’ teacher, Matthias Angelike, interjected to ask their guide about a involving lawmakers from the far-right populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD) and a group of their constituents. While on a tour here last summer, several members of the group interrupted their host to

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic8 min readPolitics
Has the Women’s March Accomplished Anything?
Carmen Perez, one of the march’s original co-chairs, describes the organization’s efforts to find its identity after three years of battling controversy.
The Atlantic5 min readPolitics
The Migration Driven by Developed Countries
Migration can be driven both by a richer country’s doing, as well as a poorer one’s undoing.
The Atlantic6 min readPolitics
Progressives Warn of a Great Deflation