Alberta deletes Nazi 'both sides' reference in decades-old school guidance document

·2 min read

EDMONTON — The Alberta government is deleting a decades-old reference in a curriculum guidance paper that urges teachers to focus on positive and negative aspects of the Nazi Germany regime.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says the reference has existed since 1984, but was as wrong then as it is now and is being expunged.

LaGrange says she and her staff acted immediately after they were made aware of the reference by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies.

The center raised concerns about a paragraph in an Alberta Education document titled “Guidelines for Recognizing Diversity and Promoting Respect.”

The guidelines urge teachers to promote both sides in debates, using as an example an argument that there were atrocities under the Nazis but some of their policies strengthened Germany’s prewar economy.

LaGrange said there is no positive side to the Nazi story and a “both sides” concept regarding the Hitler regime is not being taught in Alberta schools.

“The wrong-headed views outlined have no place in our society and I categorically denounce what is written,” LaGrange wrote on Twitter on Friday.

“There is not a ‘positive’ side to tell of the murderous Nazi regime, as this document wrongfully suggests,” she tweeted.

“This was the first time that I or anyone in my office had seen this document, and I immediately instructed my department to remove it from all Alberta Education publications.”

Michael Levitt, head of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, said in a statement Friday that he was shocked to discover such a reference “given Nazis murdered six million Jews and millions of others, in addition to completely destroying their country because they initiated a war."

“The fact that Alberta students could have possibly been fed such an outrageous proposition is extremely troubling,” said Levitt.

LaGrange said she is reaching out to groups, including Levitt's, to let them know action has been taken.

The specific section being deleted asks teachers to consider both sides when using resources: “Does the resource reveal both the positive and negative behaviours and attitudes of the various groups portrayed? For instance, if a video details war atrocities committed by the Nazis, does it also point out that before World War II, German government’s policies substantially strengthened the country’s economy?”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 12, 2021.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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