Who was Hitler? If you want the answer, don’t ask school students or those currently in college. Chances are they won’t be able to tell you. Do you find that to be alarming?
Hitler was one of the most brilliant leaders in history. He learned how to gain thousands of followers with his cunning words and smooth tactics. He was also one of the most evil men who ever lived. Under his regime, he managed to kill an estimated 12 million people including Jews, handicapped civilians, political and religious leaders, and many others who he felt were not a part of the “superior race”.
Although Hitler is the most discussed leader of genocide, he was not the only one to perform such atrocities. In fact, when comparing the number of victims, he wasn’t even the worst. Mao Zedong in China was behind the deaths of an estimated 40-70 million people. There was also Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union, Pol Pot in Cambodia and many others. All of these leaders promoted their agenda and led others to kill millions of innocent people. Why? Power and pride.
History is fascinating, but more importantly it’s lessons are vital to the future of the world. History must be taught in order to prevent these horrific crimes against humanity from being repeated. Why is it then, that when asked who Hitler was, most school students are unable to answer? Throughout the past year, in conversations with various youth, I’ve discovered that only about 1 in 5 people know about Hitler. The rest don’t even recognize his name. That’s a disappointing and terrifying discovery.
Why don’t they know? Are the school systems trying to protect students by not teaching them about such things? These same students go home after school to watch violent crimes on TV and play gruesome video games. Not teaching them history, is not protecting them. It’s endangering them. They need to know what leaders are capable of and the methods they use to gain followers. History teaches us that all of these leaders were intelligent, gave well articulated and compelling speeches and used convincing propaganda to brainwash the general public. If children are not taught what to look for, then they can easily fall into the same trap as the followers of Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot did.
If only a small amount of students in this generation know about these leaders and their atrocious acts, what will be of the next generation? History must be taught, whether it be in our schools or in our homes. Otherwise, history will inevitably be repeated. Only next time it will likely be much worse.
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