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Pupils to study Germany after Hitler
By Liz Lightfoot, Education Correspondent
(Filed: 27/12/2005)

Pupils are to be given a more positive image of modern Germany to address criticism that schools concentrate too much on its Nazi past.

The new lessons for 11- to 14-year-olds will look at post-war reconstruction and moves towards greater European integration.

They will be taught for the first time as part of the curriculum about the circumstances that led to the partition of Germany and the building of the Berlin Wall.

They will learn about the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the pulling down of the wall as east and west Germany re-united as part of the new unit, intended to bring more balance to a curriculum which has been dominated by the study of Adolf Hitler.

The move was prompted by criticism from Thomas Matussek, the former German ambassador to London, when he said this year that the British behaved as if they had conquered Hitler's hordes single-handedly.

Britain and Germany were drifting apart because British children were "growing up with dangerous misunderstandings" about Germany through the concentration on teaching about Hitler.

German children were regularly beaten up and abused by British youngsters who believed the clichéd stereotypes drawn from the country's past.

Ken Boston, the chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, which issues the new unit, said children needed to understand that Germany's history did not end with the death of a dictator.

"The past 60 years have seen great events in Germany and great achievements that too few English children are taught," he said.

"Schools in England need to spend time teaching what happened in Germany after 1945."

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