German Students Join HGP Discussions




Exchanges Between German and American Students


First of all, I want to give you a small description of my hometown. Soltau lies in the north of Germany, in the middle of the triangle formed by Hamburg, Hanover and Bremen. On Sunday, it got white in Germany (we shot with our fireworks, the snow out of the clouds, he-he). But today, two weeks later, the snow has gone. Now to your project. Here in Germany, the danger of the Nazis is growing. Politicians and famous persons talk and talk, but, in fact, nearly nothing is done against the "brown danger." (We call the Nazis the "Browns"!) The background of this development is mainly the unemployment in Germany, especially the situation of young people who come out of school and find no training places. Because of this, a lot of young people think that foreigners have taken their training places.

Furthermore, Germany is still very attractive for asylum, and nowadays it is impossible to walk through a town without seeing ten or more foreigners within half an hour. So there are plenty of reasons to become a Nazi.

Hope you think about it.

Jan Schiller (Gymnasium Soltau)


Letter from Julia Fries (United States) to
Jan Schiller (Germany)

In German / auf deutsch

Lieber Jan,

ich bin eine Schülerin von Cold Spring Harbor in New York. Ich arbeite eigentlich nicht an diesem Projekt aber eine Lehrerin die mich kennt hat mich gebeten Dir und anderen zu antworten. Ich lebe ungefähr sechs Jahre schon in den Vereinigten Staaten und bin in Wiesbaden aufgewachsen. Ich bin 16 Jahre alt und bin in der 11. Klasse. So, jetzt aber zu dem Thema der Neo-Nazis. Wie Du in deinem Brief sagtest, nennt ihr die Nazies, die Braunen. Das wußte ich nicht aber man lernt halt immer wieder was Neues.

Ich bin ungefähr 2 Monate aus dem Jahr in Deutschland aber natürlich ist das nicht lang genug um die Situation im Lande richtig mitzukriegen und zu fühlen. Du haßt schon recht das die Arbeitslosigkeit heimlich viel mit dem Haß der Braunen zu tun hat. Aber es kommt mir immer öfters so vor als ob die Toleranz der Deutschen immer weniger wird. Ja, ausländer rauben bestimmt viele Berufsmöglichkeiten von den Deutschen aber es muß doch einen anderen Weg geben dieses Problem zu lösen. Von selbst geht es bestimmt nicht aber Haß und Intoleranz scheint auch nicht zu wirken. Du sagtest in deinem Brief das es viele Gründe gibt ein Nazi zu werden.

Warum? Ich verstehe das viele junge Leute rustriert sind weil sie keine Arbeit finden aber sofort den Frust an Ausländern auszulassen scheint auch nicht fair zu sein. Bitte schreibe mir doch mal über die Gefühle die in deiner Schule vorgehen über diese Situation. Ich wollte Dir auch sagen daß es natürlich auch andere Haß Gruppen überall auf der Welt gibt. Wir wollten nur wissen wie es in Deutschland zugeht. Ich denke nichts schlechtes über Deutschland oder die Deutschen weil ich selber Deutsche bin, und auch wenn ich Amerikanerin währe würde ich nie meine Meinung über ein Land bilden wegen einer Haß Gruppe. Noch eine Frage und dan beende ich diesen Brief. Wird bei Euch die Holocaust durchgenommen? (Während dem 2. Welt Krieg). Wenn ja, wie und was lehrnt ihr darüber? Hier bei uns (im Staat New York) ist es Pflicht darüber zu lernen und es muß in den Lehrstoff mit eingeschloßen werden. Also, vielen Dank für deine Zeit. Wenn Du willst kannst Du auf Deutsch oder Englisch antworten. Bis bald.

Julia Fries




In English / auf englisch

Dear Jan,

I am a student from Cold Spring Harbor High School in New York. I am not really working on this project, but a teacher who knows me pretty well asked me to respond to your letter. I have lived in the U.S. for about six years and I grew up in Wiesbaden. I am sisteen years old and I am in eleventh grade. But, let's talk about the subject of the neo-Nazis. As you told me in your letter, you call the Nazis, "the Browns." I didn't know this, but you learn something new every day. I'm in Germany about two months out of the year, but of course this is not enough time to feel and experience the situation in the country. You are right that unemployment has a lot to do with the hate of the Browns. But, it seems to me more and more, that the tolerance of the Germans is slowly deteriorating.

Yes, foreigners rob the Germans of many career opportunities, but there has to be another way to solve this problem. It won't solve itself, but hate and intolerance don't seem to work either. You said in your letter that there are many reasons for becoming a Nazi. Why? I understand that many young people are frustrated that they cannot find work, but to immediately take out their frustrations on the foreigners doesn't seem to be fair. Please write me about the feelings that go on in your school about this situation. I also wanted to tell you that there are many other hate groups all over the world. We just wanted to know about what is going on in Germany. I don't think anything bad about Germany or the Germans because I myself am German, and even if I were an American, I wouldn't base my opinion about a country on a hate group.

Just one more question and then I'll end this letter. Do you learn about the Holocaust in Germany? If yes, how and what do you learn about it? In New York it is state mandated (it has to be incorporated into the curriculum). Thank you very much for your time. If you want you can write back in German or English. Until then --

Julia Fries


Letter from Jan Schiller (Germany) to
Julia Fries (United States)

In German / auf deutsch

Hallo Julia.

Es ist die einfachste Möglichkeit für deutsche, und auch österreichische, Jugendliche, die Agressionen und den Frust auf die Minderheiten im Land abzuladen. Hier in Deutschland gibt es die Möglichkeit der Wahl zwischen zwei Systemen:

  1. Das demokratisch marktwirtschaftliche System
  2. Das autoritaere hitlersche System

Das System Nummer 1 hat für sie versagt, und da gibt es eben noch das andere System Nummer 2, das Hitler vorgemacht hat und, zum Anschein, funktioniert hat. Also wechseln viele Betroffene zum zweiten System, da es für sie besser zu sein scheint.

Weiterhin kanalisiert sich die Aktivität nicht nur gegen Ausländer, sondern auch gegen Behinderte, Kranke und Schwache -- ganz nach dem Motto des Sozialdarwinismus: 'Nur die Starken sollen überleben.' ("Only the strong should survive!")

Und nun kommen wir auch zu deiner zweiten Frage: Warum lernen die Jugendlichen nicht aus den Fehlern der Vergangenheit?

Antwort: Sie kennen die Vergangenheit nicht. In Deutschland wird das Thema des Holocaust nur sehr oberflächlich behandelt, so daß bei Vielen der Eindruck aufkommt, dass das NS-System garnicht schlecht war. Besonders in den Hauptschulen und Realschulen, die weniger Zeit für den Geschichtunterricht haben, ist die Quote der Rechten relativ hoch. Und wenn sie dann auch noch von den Grosseltern Geschichten aus der 'guten alten Zeit' hören, geht das schulisch vermittelte Wissen ganz unter. Während ich dies schreibe tut sich bei mir die Frage auf, wie die amerikanische Öffentlichkeit mit Vietnam umgeht. Darf sie vergessen oder wird sie permanent an das Desaster erinnert?

Jan (Gymnasium Soltau, Germany)




In English / auf englisch

Hello, Julia.

It is the easiest way for German and Austrian teenagers to let out their aggression and frustration on minorities in this country. Here in Germany there are two systems that one can choose from:

  1. the democratic and capitalist system.
  2. the autocratic Hitler-like system.

The first system has failed for them, and then there is the other one, system 2, that Hitler has portrayed and seems to have worked better. Therefore, many of those who are involved switch to the second system, since it seems to be better to them.

Not only do the activities (of the neo-Nazis) focus against foreigners, but also against handicapped, sick, and weak people -- following the theory of social Darwinism: "Only the strong should survive."

And now we shall address the second question: Why don't the youth learn from mistakes of the past?

Answer: They don't know about the past. In Germany, the topic Holocaust, is only discussed very superficially, and therefore, many are led to believe that the NS-System wasn't even bad. Especially in the secondary schools and the intermediate schools, which have less time to teach history, the amount of "radicals" (rights) is relatively high. And when these kids hear about the "good old times" from their grandparents, the (historical) knowledge transmitted through school is completely forgotten. While writing this, I came upon a question that I have. How does the American public deal with the subject of Vietnam? Is it allowed to forget, or does it constantly and permanently get reminded of this disaster?


Jan (Gymnasium Soltau, Germany)

[ Translations by Julia Fries ]


Exchange Between Chris Wenk (United States) and
Christoph Hemmerle and Dirk Ollmann (Germany)

Dear Dirk and Christoph,

Mrs. Kern, our teacher, is very excited that we have finally developed a correspondence with Germany. What we are really interested in is if you are educated about the topic of the Holocaust and bias/hate crimes in your schools.

We are not trying to imply that the problem is extremely bad, but from what we hear in the media, hate crimes are on the rise and the authorities don't know how to handle it.

Chris Wenk
Cold Spring Harbor High School, New York


Dear Chris Wenk,

We want to help you with your problem about neo-Nazis in Germany. We are Germans! We are also living in Germany. So we are best to tell you about this. Firstly, there are not as many neo-Nazis in Germany as you think. They are a minority in our country. But, you are right. They are very criminal. The worst they do is burn up houses of political refugees. This is often done by "Molotov-Cocktails," which are easy to make by yourself. But this is often exaggerated by the world's media. It is not happening everyday, not even regularly. The people who do this mostly have no school degrees, so they are unemployed and without aims. Because they are unintelligent, they are easily utilized by some more intelligent men. The main mottoes of these people are: "Foreigners are taking your working places and your money. Germany to Germans, Foreigners are to be out." (THAT IS NOT OUR OPINION.) Some of these organizations and leaders give them new aims with these assaults. Most of the neo-Nazis do not think about what they are doing. But this is really just a small minority in our democratic state. Nearly the whole population is not so inexperienced to follow these people AGAIN!

Best regards,

Christoph Hemmerle and Dirk Ollmann
Gymnasium Soltau, Germany


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