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Monday, 9 December, 2002, 15:27 GMT
Xenophobia slur on history lessons
German flag
"Children should learn about modern Germany"
The German ambassador to Britain has criticised history teaching in British schools, saying it concentrates too much on Germany's Nazi era.

Thomas Matussek says children are not taught about modern Germany and its democracy and that the approach fuels xenophobia.

The ambassador also attacked the British media, which he said perpetuated cliches and stereotypes.

He wants to see a more modern history curriculum in schools.

"Dark era"

He said he was surprised to hear that 80% of A-level students studying history chose to study Nazi Germany.

"It is very important that people know about it study in depth, but they also need to know that history does not stop in 1945," he said.

"They need to know that the lessons drawn from this dark era of our past are being implemented and that German democracy is a success story which could also be taught."

He pointed to an attack on two teenage German exchange students in London as an example of the damage cultural ignorance can do.

In October, two boys who were staying in Mordon, South London, were attacked while playing football with local teenagers.

One had his glasses broken and the other was thrown in a bush.

Thomas Matussek said: "Most of the cliches are quite funny and I sort of like them, but when there is no knowledge about the reality of modern Germany, when cliches and stereotypes are taken for reality, then it gives reason for concern.

"And the fact that kids are beaten up in the street concerns me a lot."

It is not the first time a German ambassador in London has criticised the portrayal of Germany by Britain.

In 1999, the outgoing ambassador, Gebhardt von Moltke, complained that the teaching of history in British schools appeared to stop at 1945.

Earlier this year Germany targeted British schools with a campaign designed to give children a more modern image of Germany.

See also:

25 Jun 02 | Europe
24 May 01 | Europe
24 May 02 | Education
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