Discussion in 'Politics & Current Events' started by BenReilly, Dec 3, 2004.
I wonder what the figure is for Stalin's purge? 1%?
More on the same
Even though I don't agree with it, I can see and understand where the attitude comes from. It is a part of the past that is not taught in schools to a great extent. It was 60 years ago, and those trying to keep it in the minds of people, even globally, are relatively few in number these days. Seems like society just wishes to sweep such occurances under the carpet and forget about them.
Just would like to see such a survey applied to other nations and not just Britain, to see how they compare. And what about other significant events since: eg. Cambodia and Pol Pot, Bloody Sunday, Pinochet and Chile?
I don't think many would be too hot on these more recent events either.
I don't think it's an issue of "attitude", in the sense that you describe it. That implies a conscious decision to disavow that aspect of our recent past. I also have never had much patience with the "it was 60 years ago" mentality in a nation that is still as routinely preoccupied with the war. We, more than any nation on earth, are guilty of banging on about the damn thing on the flimsiest of pretexts and with the minimum of encouragement. "Spirit of the Blitz" and all that rheumy-eyed guff.
I think, in part at least, failures of this kind (speaking about the Auschwitz story now) are down to the drive for choice in education. You can go through elementary, secondary and even tertiary education without ever exposing yourself to the sort of historical learning that would form the basis of understanding what Auschwitz was or how it happened. In just the same way as you can go through your entire education without ever really understanding how rocks are formed or what a logarithm really is (I couldn't tell you that to this day).
Having said that, it's also about a more general, more pervasive ignorance. We can't limit this to being a failure of formal education - as a society we should be sharing this sort of knowledge with each new generation via more than just the one channel. Parents, as ever, have a responsibility for failings of this nature.
I spent some years in Germany where, for obvious reasons, this would not be the case. Back then (muid-80s'), it was compulsory for school kids to learn about such things. I actually went on a school trip to Auschwitz. An experience I shall never forget - and which will feature in any informal education of my children, once I have any.
All that is granted. However, you are looking it from a very personal viewpoint, and one that is interested, educated and willing to learn more. A survey can be heavily flawed, and there will be certainly large enough groups that are not in such a social category as yourself, that when included in such a survey, will render it flawed. But it is sad. But as I also added, throw in a few more events and you will find people, without a doubt, scratching their heads.
Which is why any competent survey conductor will draw their sample (in this case, over 4000 people) from the whole range of socio-economic, regional and age groups. If they didn't (if, for instance, they only included the socio-economic group CDE 456) then the survey would be both pointless and intentionally misleading. As would any subsequent news derived from the issue. Given that the Beeb commissioned this survey, I find that an unlikely circumstance.
No, the sad fact is that this survey represents our current state in macro form and includes people like myself, or you, or other groups amongst whom you would more normally expect a higher level of education, perspective and, to put it in quiz terms, 'general knowledge'. In other words, educated people who are experienced in and knowledgeable about a range of other subjects, are ignorant about this part of our very recent history.
Like I said - ugly.
You may find it sad, but it has always been this way. As I said, many major events in history just get consigned to dusty text books in schools and libraries. This is another one of those events, gathering dust, unfortunately.
There's no reasonable excuse for ignorance of any major historical events in the last 100 years. None at all. That's not to submit that I lack ignorance on many events that have occurred in the last 100 years. What I lack are excuses for that ignorance; I call it what it is, and try to eliminate it, everyday.
That's just silly. You can't dismiss the apparent fact that THE HOLOCAUST is something an increasing number of our compatriots have not even heard of with a "history's history"-style shrug.
Bloody hell, if you went back and asked the same 4000 people what Agincourt was, fine. I can live with 45% of them saying it was a brand of cigarette or whatever. But Auschwitz!?!?!?
The key silliness is the concept of "get consigned". As I said in my previous post, you cannot conclude that there is some concerted, conscious effort to dismiss that aspect of our recent history from the popular cosciousness. It's just a societal misfire and one that both could and should be addressed. Would we be this sanguine if the survey said 45% of Britons have never heard of "the Blitz"? Christ, imagine the rumpus in our right-wing press, you'd have thought someone had dug Winnie up and used his ribcage as a xylophone.
I think these news reports are sensationalistic. 55% of Britons recognized the specific name Auschwitz? Given the diversity of British culture and the sweep of its history today, I don't find that particularly alarming in some unique sense. I'd like to see a comparison with how they did on related culturally literate terms like "holocaust" or "Hitler's final solution" or "Jewish genocide." Or, as Frankfurt Blue suggests, compared to other significant phrases that one would expext literate people to know. I bet 55% is not all that bad a score.
Although I do agree wih you to an extent that it is a case of the state of the "general knowledge" factor in this country, it does have a lot to do with our education system. I have studied History right through to University degree level. With regards to Nazi Germany the core subjects are around the economic build up in the early thirties and then lead towards the preperation for war, Nazi progaganda, "Krystalnacht" and then onto looking at how the SS came to be so fered. When it came to the actual war, it was more events of battles and looking at the Eastern Front. The actual concentration and deathcamps are not studied. Now what thi is due to, Im not sure. Im really not. My knowledge comes from a persoanl interest and as Ive been to germany many times and seen many of the Camp "museums" (for want of a better term), which give (obviously) a much better perspective of what happened than reading from a book.
Whatever the reason, it is a disgrace - but it isn't just limited to the Second World War. I doubt many peole could tell you the leader of the opposition in this country, many wouldn't know where the Falklands war was fought, how many people would know we fought a war in Burma? The problem is there, granted - but it isn't contained to ignorance about one event in history, however important.
I have a Chinese girl living down the hall from me and about 5 minutes ago in the kitchen she was talking to someone about Tibet and made the following comment:
"I heard Tibet is not a friendly place. You should go to the province next to it. The people are friendlier. I do not know why the people of Tibet are not friendly to people from China."
She was not being sarcastic. Some people are just not exposed to the information out there. For example, take a ned in Edinburgh. Is he going to give two sh!ts about the Holocaust or any other history for that matter when the more important things in life consist of getting drunk, wearing rediculous clothing, and bottling Hearts supporters outside of pubs? It's sad, but to many people, history does not matter as they just don't think it affects them or makes a difference in their life.
Lastly, what's the count on Reilly starting threads with articles from Jewish/Israeli papers?
Pinochet killed around 3000 people.
Does the New York Times count?
Well said. And therein lies the problem that Matt seems unable to accept. There are some that share his sensibilities and those that don't.
Still a significant event. Bloody Sunday likewise.
It's not owned by one of dem Jews is it?
I don't want to go too off topic, but I find it strange that Pinochet frequently gets included in the list of horribles with Hitler, Stalin, etc. The number of dictators that have killed a few thousand people is, unfortunately, endless.
Hitler and Stalin did it with no one else's backing did they?
Now who was behind Pinochet and the other miltiary juntas/dictators that seized power in many S. American countries?
What's particularly surprising about this BBC poll is that there's nothing about it on the BBC website. I tend to think we're only getting part of the story to be honest. As you imply, there's a big difference between not knowing anything about 'the holocaust' and not knowing the names of particular camps.
Interestingly the headline in 'The Independent' on Matt's link is 'Most younger people have never heard of Auschwitz'. I could point out that it's bloody difficult to tell young people anything these days - they all seem to think they're experts on everything - but that would make me sound like a boring old fart.
Hmm, am I the only one thinking that the verdicts already in on that one
Yeah ... thing is, the girl in question, presumably, hails from the autocratic state most responsible for the repression of Tibet and most fervently committed to misrepresenting the reality in Tibet.
We, on the other hand, live in a free, "civilised" society.
Besides which, you misrepresent my argument. I can't accept that such ignorance must prevail in a free, rich society where education is freely available. That doesn't mean I don't accept that it nonetheless does. There is the difference between thee and me - I'm not content with a "shit happens" shrug of the shoulders. I could be all studenty and trite and fling that "those who do not learn from history ..." quote at you, but I don't think even that is necessary to validate the basic fact of this matter - which is that no such ignorance can be passively accommodated in any progressive society.
I don't disagree with you. I am just approaching this from both sides, trying to see possible reasons for this. Ignorance is dangerous, and I find it at times offensive. However, what can you do? Not a great deal, that is life.
With respect Matt, thats exactly what is happening here. In plain English, the vast majority of people here don't give two sh1ts about what happened over 60 years ago. They care about the here and now. Im not saying thats good and i agree with it, but lets face it - to todays youth to try to get them interested in anything you'd have to "snazz" it up. Thats not really possible with the topic in hand is it?
I can think of no area of normal life where that is less appropriate a sentiment than when considering the concept of education. It's one of the few things that everyone - from the individual up to the might of the state - can influence immediately and without hindrance.