Just because you live in East bum you-know-where doesn’t necessarily mean that you know anything about it. Or it’s history, I should say. Which might just be for the better, come to think of it, oder (or maybe not)? It seems that the kids in Brandenburg (one of the new German states old/new Berlin finds itself planted within) don’t fare any better than any of the other kids tested in the Near German East, at least when it comes to recent German history.

Of the 750 10th and 11th grade students surveyed by Berlin’s Freie Universität recently, more than 80 percent admitted to knowing practically nothing about the former East German GDR Brandenburg belonged to for forty long years. Nor were they able to properly explain the difference between such complex concepts as democracy and dictatorship, a relative majority holding the pre-1989 West German BRD for being no better than its GDR counterpart.

But before everybody gets all too hot and bothered about what appears to be some new form of old-fashioned communist plot, keep in mind that students throughout the rest of Germany don’t seem to be doing all that much better. Nearly 8 percent of all students attending Germany’s antiquated Hauptschule (the lowest level of classless Germany’s three-layered and strictly class-oriented education system), for instance, don’t even finish up there.

And this could eventually pose a problem for the rest of those German kids out there, too. For as far as I can tell, the classless Hauptschule kids are supposed to be the ones who start working with 16 (the classless middle layer kids begin working in their early twenties) and pay the way for the classless top level Abitur kids so they can study until they are thirty-five or so and then become the history teachers and other academics who will not know anything about the GDR, either (although they will not know it with class, of course).

But strangely, all of these kids, across all levels of the classless German education system, are incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to negative aspects of or events in American (excuse me, US American) history, real or imaginary. So I guess this means that some things still do get taught at home, thank goodness. Or maybe they just drink this stuff up with mother’s milk.

Come visit me at Observing Hermann…

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