Recently, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder twice expressed his views on the history of WWII. At the meeting marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Buchenwald Concentration Camp on April 10, Schroeder stressed that Germany bears moral and political responsibility to memorize the history of the Nazi atrocities, it will never forget it and absolutely not allow this historical tragedy to repeat itself.
At a press conference he held jointly with visiting President Roh Moo-hyun of the Republic of Korea on April 13, he said: The experience of Germany shows that a correct attitude toward the history of one's country by "a cautious and self-examination" method "will not lose friends, but instead will win over friends".
This cannot but remind people of Japan, also a starter of the fascist war. In the 30s-40s of the last century, the two countries had very similar experiences, however, they adopt diametrically different attitudes toward that phase history of aggression.
The German Education Ministers Joint Conference once issued a special order, which emphasized that all types of middle school must truthfully account the Nazi history. Although Germany has a variety of history textbooks, it cannot act as it wishes in the education on history, all textbooks must go through the examination of the education department, so as to guarantee that historical facts are not distorted.
For instance, the history textbook for German liberal art and science high schools consists of 12 chapters, one of which quotes a philosopher's words as saying, "It is guilty to forget the history of Nazis persecuting the Jews, this phase of history should always be recalled. As it was possible to occur in the past, so it is still possible to take place at anytime."
German educators often conduct discussions on how to properly give lessons on history at middle and primary schools, with an aim to give students a better understanding of the crimes committed by Nazis. To this end, they have adopted many concrete measures, such as inviting survivors of the anti-fascist war to make reports for the students and, with their personal experiences, to expose the outrages of fascists; they led students to visit sites of the Nazi concentration camps, enabling them to understand how the Jews were tormented and persecuted in those years; they also organized students to watch films and TV programs with anti-fascist contents. In addition, after WWII, Germany also published numerous history and political books exposing and criticizing Nazi Germany's criminal rule.
After the two Germanys were unified, a mass organization in the capital city of Berlin put forward a proposal for the establishment of a monument at the city center to commemorate the 6 million Jews who were massacred during WWII, thereby showing to the world Germany's determination to draw a historical lesson and never allow the repeat of history. This proposal immediately received endorsement and financial support from the Berlin municipal government.
The monument has now been basically completed and is scheduled to open to the public on May 8 this year. That day is exactly the day marking the 60th anniversary of the victory of the world anti-fascist war on the European battlefield.
Of course, there also exist in Germany a small number of neo-Nazis and Right-wing organizations, as well as a handful of Right-wingers who advertise racism, concoct video games and other publications that spread Nazi ideology and have even incited several shocking incidents of anti-foreign violence.
These incidents have brought home to Germans in various circles that education of the youngsters must not be relaxed, they must be helped to strengthen their judgment and immunity, so as to avoid being led astray by the neo-Nazis. Thanks to the government's firm and clear-cut attitude and consistent and effective containment measures, the neo-Nazi movement has so far failed to gain ground.
Germany's correct attitude toward history has won it respect from various European countries and made it an important member of the European Union (EU). Japan, on its part, has been landed in an unprecedented isolation due to its willful distortion of history, denial of aggression and whitewash of its atrocities.
Germany actually serves as a realistic and bright mirror for Japan. Japan that wants to be a "normal country" should seriously compare itself with Germany, to see how Germany approaches history and takes history as a mirror.
(People's Daily April 22, 2005)