Nazi Genocide Largely Ignored in Ontario High School Texts, Survey Finds

A recently completed official three year evaluation of high school textbooks used in the Province of Ontario indicated that none of the books studied contained an “adequate” presentation of “one of the most atrocious chapters in the whole history of mankind”–the Nazi treatment of Jews and other minorities. The 130-page report of the study entitled “Teaching Prejudice,” was prepared by Garnet MoDiarmid and David Pratt of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education for submission to the Ontario Human Rights Commission. It noted that of the 19 textbooks surveyed eight failed altogether to mention Nazi persecution of minorities, nine were adjudged poor in their coverage of the topic and two were adjudged fair. None were deemed adequate. The authors wrote, “It is astonishing that this issue was not even mentioned in many texts and that in many others purporting to deal with modern history it was treated so casually. In most cases the issue was disposed of in a few sentences.”

The authors criticized the texts specifically for mentioning only Jews among the persecuted groups and their vagueness about the total number killed. “Most of the discussions neglected to mention the philosophical or social roots of anti-Semitism, the Allied failure to assist the Jews or the Nazis’ treatment of political opponents, gypsies, Slavs and Poles. Above all, there is little or no attempt to indicate to students that the gas chambers and ovens of such concentration camps as Dachau, Auschwitz, and Treblinka are the outcome of discrimination against minorities taken to its extreme conclusion,” the authors wrote.

In 1966, the Canadian Jewish Congress presented a brief to a government commission on the aims and objectives of education in which it deplored the non-treatment of the Nazi period in Ontario high school textbooks, specifically one titled “The Modern Era” which devoted one short sentence to Nazi racial persecutions. The book is still used on Toronto high schools. The textbook survey found that on the question of stereotyping, Jews fared much better than most other minorities. Positive and favorable adjectives such as great, faithful, just, wise and genius were applied to Jews, Christians and immigrants in general. Moslems, Negroes and Indians were described by such words as fanatical, superstitious and savage, the survey found.

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