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KD MAGAZINE! 
Posted: July 10, 2006 -
י"ד תמוז, תשס"ו

 
 
 
   
 

...Said Hitler
Rabbi Shea Hecht
About the Author

 
Many people involved in education are not too interested in hearing about school during the summer vacation. Education is an intense field and the summer break gives those involved in education a chance to disengage themselves a little thereby fortifying and rejuvenating. Nonetheless, I think now is the time to analyze an end-of-the-year incident from this past school year and see how we can improve our educational system.

Many schools have their graduating students choose a quotation that they like to appear under their graduation picture. Two high school seniors from Northport, NY, a city 47 miles east of New York City chose to place quotations from Adolf Hitler's book "Mein Kampf" under their picture.

The quotes were picked by Christopher Koulermos and Philip Compton, both 18. Koulermos' read "Strength lies not in defense, but in attack." Compton chose "The great masses of people  . . .  will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one."

The comments caused quite a stir because of their author, but I would venture to say that they are inappropriate for a graduating student regardless of their source. Because of the great big ruckus made about this choice, school officials were prompted to apologize."It's our responsibility and we failed miserably," said Northport High School principal Irene McLaughlin. "The fact that the book went out in the form it did was a grave mistake on our part."

Compton's father, Steven, said that his son meant no harm in picking the quote. "I guess he didn't seriously consider the source; he was more interested in the quote," he said. "He's a child."

Compton’s father is correct. His son is just a child, but a child on the brink of adulthood, who should have been taught better than that. The school is correct too. They should apologize, but they are apologizing to the wrong people. The ones who deserve the apology are the two graduating students, Christopher Koulermos and Philip Compton, and their classmates. Where the education system has failed miserably is by not providing a proper education.

How is it that they went through all of their schooling and were never once taught about the evil of Hitler? I am not referring to Hitler’s Final Solution to the Jewish “problem.” That retains great proportions in my mind because of how it affected my brethren - the Jewish people. But the Jewish “problem” was not considered the main “problem” the Germans had during WWII and the Final Solution is generally thought to have been a “side job.”

I’m wondering how these two young men went through school without learning about Hitler’s greater war aim: To take over all of Europe and then the whole world and use the world’s population as slaves.

History tells us that by the time the Americans joined WWII the Germans had taken over a major part of Europe. Jews and non-Jews lived in Europe at this time. True the Jews were exterminated, but the rest of the residents were persecuted as inferior too. The citizens of the unoccupied European lands were weakened by four years of war and unable to fight Hitler for much longer.  It’s theoretically possible that if the USA had not joined the war when it did Christopher Koulermos and Philip Compton and all their relatives would be slaves to Hitler’s rule until today. And therein lies the fault.

Had Christopher Koulermos and Philip Compton known this they undoubtedly would have understood by themselves that there was something inherently wrong in permanently printing the quote of an evil man, who in his warped fantasy viewed all of humankind as his slaves, under their graduation picture. This is aside from the fact that Hitler’s actions against Jews and other minorities were most wicked. The fact is that these boys were uneducated in the inherent depravity of Hitler and his schemes.

Though it’s the summer
and school's out of session perhaps now is the time for those who educate our children to revamp the education system. Hitler and his cohorts should not be relegated to the unimportant because “it’s only History.” A gap in education of something so important leaves our unsuspecting and unknowledgeable young children thinking Hitler is someone worthy of quoting. The solution to the discovery of such a serious gap in education is not to punish the students or the school; it’s the same solution to all ignorance: educate.

Read more articles by Rabbi Hecht 

 

 
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