What was your grandpa catchphrase

My grandfather was a Nazi from the very beginning, I already knew that as a child

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What felt like hundreds of Guido Knopp history documentaries were running on television in the late 1990s. Hitler's dogs comes next, I said to a friend. You could watch screaming, evil men in these documentaries as they commit an incomparable mass murder. And you could see how our supposedly innocent generation of grandparents cheered Hitler. Or just other Germans.

I showed many classes in class a document, a complaint letter to a company, complaining that the incinerators were not working properly. Based on this, one could explain to you that many must have been aware of the genocide of the Jews after all. That people were burned. - Now, as you say it, I remember it. And also how embarrassed many of us were.

The extent to which our own families were involved, and at that time there were still enough living witnesses, was not discussed in my environment. Neither in school nor in the family of friends. I myself could not imagine a grandpa who would bravely defy the Nazis. My grandfather was a Nazi from the very beginning and until 1945 mayor of a smaller community in Styria. I already knew that as a child. When I learned from a school friend that he had a similar family history, I was almost relieved.

These legends, which were spread after '45 and according to which many were in the resistance, have held up. - We didn't talk about these personal connections, about the family stories of us students in class, did we? - No, we didn't do that. - Did that also contribute to creating an even greater distance from the time of National Socialism? - Family stories can be helpful, vivid. But with three families, three completely different stories can come out. Perhaps one was resistant, the next a staunch Nazi and the third follower.

What was not discussed in any subject in our Arndt in the nineties and early noughties were all the family stories of those students whose ancestors had nothing to do with the Holocaust. The stories of all those who would have had an immigration story to tell. After September 11, 2001, we had to Clash of civilizations Read from Samuel P. Huntington, we didn't learn much about racism. It wasn't until much later that I learned that I, too, have to ask myself again and again about racist thinking and behavior.

Mr. G. retired in 2015. In the end, he says, he had the feeling that the students' interest in the crimes of National Socialism had diminished a little. He had repeatedly pointed out to the students that the relativization and trivialization of the Nazi ideology would increase in society as a whole.

The Arndt-Gymnasium no longer exists today. First it was merged with another Krefeld school, then renamed a year ago. It is now called Hannah-Arendt-Gymnasium. Julia Meyer