Though all German children discuss the Third Reich as part of their school curriculum, not enough is being taught about modern ideas of human rights and discrimination – and teachers are often poorly equipped to counteract the extreme right wing’s aggressive recruiting of young people, the experts said.
“Short term projects which are time-limited from year to year are not enough,” said Eva-Maria Stange, a member of Saxony’s state legislature. “We need a stable structure.”
The November revelation of a neo-Nazi terror cell – three people are suspected of killing a policewoman and at least 9 people with a migration background between 2000 and 2007 – has heightened calls for authorities to do more to prevent young people from being lured into a life of extremism.
Finding solutions will take some effort, said the experts who have called for a consistent, large-scale effort to coordinate a fight against extremism among youth.
Freiburg University of Education sociologist Albert Scherr said there should be a federally funded foundation that spearheads anti-discrimination education efforts. Scherr said schools should incorporate more human rights and anti-racism education into the core curriculum.
Hans-Gerd Jaschke, an expert on right-wing extremists at the Berlin School of Economics and Law also said a rethink of how children are educated both in and out of school is necessary.
“The education in schools is very much fixated on the theme of the Third Reich and National Socialism,” he said, calling for more extensive training of teachers.
But the tentacles of the extreme right also extend into leisure activities such as sports teams, where funding has been cut by 20 percent over the years, Jaschke said.
“The strength of the right scene is the weakness of democratic youth work that is the responsibility of the state,” he said.
The key to winning this fight, said Thomas Krüger, president of the Federal Agency for Civic Education, could be better coordination.
“We must systematically identify important prevention projects and fund them sustainably,” he said. “Federal and state governments must cooperate more closely and better coordinate the finances and contents of their programs.”