The Department of Education: The Nazis were good people too (or some such BS)

This week we learned that in 2020 the Dept of Education published a document recommending that teachers discussing Nazi atrocities also include material showing the Nazi’s policies strengthened Germany’s economy.

Why? Because it’s important from a diversity and respect perspective to “reveal both the positive and negative behaviors and attitudes of the various groups portrayed.” What part of murdering 6 million Jews and 5 million Roma, Jehovah’s Witnesses, gays, and disabled people don’t you understand??   

Education Minister LaGrange addressed this horrific recommendation in a Twitter thread rather than an official government press statement. (A curious omission given that 3 other ministers found time over the weekend to issue statements recognizing Metis Week, Victims and Survivors of Crime Week, and World Diabetes Day).

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange

In her Twitter thread LaGrange said:  

  • She had no idea the document existed
  • She told the Dept of Education to remove the document from all Alberta Education publications
  • It was concerning, unacceptable, and wrongheaded  
  • There is no positive side to the murderous Nazi regime
  • This has nothing to do with the curriculum review process. Under no circumstances would her office approve horrendous content like this being taught to Alberta students.
  • She thanked those who brought it to her attention, and is meeting with 3 groups to inform them of the action she’s taking to rectify the situation

Nope, not enough

The mainstream media caught up with the story after it exploded on social media. LaGrange categorically denounced it and Kenney completely disavowed it.

Lovely, but the document didn’t magically write itself. Apparently, way back in 1984 some bright-light in the government created it, their superiors approved it, and it continued to exist right up to Nov 12, 2021.

And now it’s come home to roost on LaGrange’s doorstep.

It’s not enough for LaGrange to promise to remove it from all government publications and move on (nothing to see here, folks).

LaGrange is accountable. She must examine the processes used by her department to create guidance documents in the first place, she must determine how such horrific documents are allowed to stand for so long, and most importantly she must explain why such documentation was not obliterated as part of the UCP’s government’s curriculum review process.

Because contrary to LaGrange’s tweet, this has everything to do with the UCP’s curriculum review.

If she’s being honest about never approving “horrendous content like this being taught to Alberta students” then she can’t implement the new UCP curriculum which has been universally criticized by parents, teachers, academics, and Indigenous leaders as racist and Eurocentric.  

Remember Kenney’s friend, Chris Champion, who worked on the revamp of the social studies curriculum? Champion dismissed the notion that residential schools were part of a policy of genocide and said the inclusion of First Nation perspectives was a fad. His comments are examples of the kind of “guidance” that results in the Nazis-were-good-people-too thinking.

And this is where the Pacific Northwest tree octopus comes in.

Octopus paxarbolis

The Pacific Northwest tree octopus website was used by researchers studying critical thinking and gullibility in teenage students. The research required students to learn more about the tree octopus which could live on land as well as in the water, was on the verge of extinction because it had been over-harvested in the early 20th century for use as a hat decoration, and its main predator was the Sasquatch.

Most students believed this claptrap because they were given the assignment in school, they trusted their teachers and they were emotionally involved in saving an endangered species.

Many continued to believe the lie even after they were told the website was a hoax.

If bright young students believe the tree octopus exists even after they discover it’s a hoax, how hard is it for them to believe residential schools were a blessing for poor little Indigenous children and colonialism was good for the Indigenous population, especially if these lies are presented as fact in the UCP curriculum.

Next Steps  

No, LaGrange’s Twitter promise to remove the ‘good things about Nazis’ document is not enough. She must (1) issue a press statement apologizing for the mistakes made by her department, (2) commit to removing all documents promoting the so-called positive side of atrocities, and (3) halt the implementation of the new UCP curriculum until she’s reviewed the curriculum to ensure it does not include “horrendous content like this.”

She should be able to manage (1) and (2) on her own, but she’ll need the help of a brand new curriculum review team to ensure (3) is done without political or ideological bias.  

Over to you Adriana.

PS: Can you talk with the Energy Minister about taking steps to protect this cute little octopus that lives in the coal mines on the Eastern Slopes?

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40 Responses to The Department of Education: The Nazis were good people too (or some such BS)

  1. omegaphallic says:

    Obviously the Nazis were monsters, but understanding how they were able to take Germany from a broken, shattered shell, economic disaster of a country with inflation far, far worse then the Shipocoyles so far, to a super power that was a military global threat is vital to understanding how the Nazis came to power and how to avoid that happening again.

    Understanding the Nazis rise to power, and fixing German’ economy as well as post was a huge part of that, and couldn’t have happened without it, is vital to understanding WWII as much as a list of battles.

    This doesn’t mean the Nazis weren’t vile, disgusting monsters, they were, but that shouldn’t colour the study of their economics (it should make it clear that supporting fascist ideology is out of bounds by society however).

    • omegaphallic I thought Bernie Farber of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network put it well. He said it’s appropriate to teach students about the economic conditions and factors of post-1919 Germany that led to Hitler’s rise to power. But it’s not appropriate to present that as a “positive” aspect of the Nazi regime. He pointed to the fact this was a “diversity document,” one that wants people to be cognizant of the welfare of the groups you’re talking about. Farber said: “they’re saying you have to be cognizant of the welfare of Nazis.” He found that mindboggling.”
      Here’s the link: https://globalnews.ca/news/8369908/alberta-document-nazi-economic-policies/

      • omegaphallic says:

        I’m not suggesting being cognizant of the well being of true Nazis, although there was an vast economic improvement at first under the Nazis, there madness destroyed that, there is value in understanding how they beat inflation,it doesn’t mean you have to sympathize with the Nazis or their sick hatred and mass murder and lies.

        I will note that conscripts, who were unwilling military slaves, should not be considered true Nazis if they didn’t support the ideology of the Nazis, but were forced into the German military, they should be considered victims of the Nazis. Conscription is a vile act and a form of forced, deadly, traumatic military slavery and I oppose its use everywhere.

  2. SANDY WENMAN says:

    This is the Best Article I have Read. Eloquently Written
    Thank You for your Hard Work.

  3. Bill Malcolm says:

    There’s a pretty darn good explanation of Fascism and the Nazis by none other than George Orwell. Written in 1940 after Dunkirk, he gets down to the nitty gritty of how government in England “worked” with social inequality baked in, and how and why the fascists rose in continental Europe so fast. The book is called “The Lion and The Unicorn”. It’s short and to the point. Mainly, it will provide a viewpoint on our democracy/private capitalism and how it was no technical match for fascist militarism in the run up to WW2 from 1931 onwards, because of the profit motive of big business. Makes you chortle as you realize how the UK has morphed in 2021 right back to the slovenly run place of privilege it was in the 1930s. I don’t suppose people like Champion or LaGrange ever read real books or have much of a clue about anything including a real philosophy of how to govern.

    Anyway, the book can be read online at the Orwell Foundation:

    https://www.orwellfoundation.com/the-orwell-foundation/orwell/essays-and-other-works/the-lion-and-the-unicorn-socialism-and-the-english-genius/

    He takes a pretty good swipe at left-wing intellectualism and separately “socialism” as it was practised in Blighty, before coming out strongly for it as a concept (strong social democracy really) when it’s done right, because it can be integrated without changing the fundamental character of a country and its social unity based on history — it reduces inequality. The general idiocy of the established order so beloved of conservatism is dealt a harsh blow and that’s the way Canada is currently run, unfortunately. Hadn’t read any Orwell in decades, and his non-fiction is as good as his novels. Try it, you might like it, and it’s both short and readable, because the man was against flowery language.

    • Thanks for the link Bill.
      I recently finished reading Orwell’s On Freedom. In it he makes many comments about the importance of education, including this one: “The more educated people are–assuming that education does not just mean training in technological skills–the more they become aware of their individuality and the less will the structure of society be organized like a beehive.” In Alberta we live in a conservative blue beehive and Kenney will do everything in his power to keep us there.

  4. Carlos says:

    I had been wondering how long it would take for another UCP screw up.
    It did not take that long as always.
    This time it is that we should know about the economic positives in Germany under the Nazis.
    Although I understand that it should be removed, but to bad the missed opportunity to explain to the world that one of the Nazis main revenue stream was what they were stealing from all the Jews that were sent to concentration camps including golden teeth when they were killed.
    I guess the UCP MLAs would not be happy to accept this fact.

    • Carlos, the screw ups continue to flow. Kenney and the UCP are heading for a showdown at the UCP AGM which starts this Friday. The “support Kenney” camp will fiddle with the UCP bylaws in order to stop the “anti-Kenney” camp from voting on calling an early leadership review. Nothing like internecine warfare in the governing party to distract Kenney and Alberta’s hapless citizens from what really matters.
      It’s like living in a soap opera.

      • Carlos says:

        🙂 🙂 🙂

        Incompetence Paradise that is what all of it is. The fools took over the Asylum
        Never thought I would witness anything like this – the sleepy education Minister is now trying to explore the virtues of Nazi economics for Alberta students to know. An absolutely outstanding vision of the future from the UCP geniuses.

    • omegaphallic says:

      The sicking theft from the jewelry didn’t explain how the Nazis did away with hyper inflation (like way, way, way worse inflation then anything we can expect to experience even now). The Nazis told the UK and France and Bankster’s to go **** themselves. Of course they then throw it all a way on evil, but the two things can be separated.

  5. Valerie Jobson says:

    A few things.
    1. The document is not part of the curriculum but is a separate policy document, as Dr. Carla Peck pointed out. https://twitter.com/cpeck3/status/1459331106226913282

    2. The earliest version so far of the document which has the “Nazis” example is dated 2008. Do not assume that example was also in the original 1984 document, which no one has produced yet.

    I doubt that it was in the 1984 document, because at that time Alberta was in the middle of the Keegstra Affair and was embarrassed and upset about it. The province had a Committee on Tolerance and Understanding in 1983-84 which was a direct response to the Affair; it looked at education, received submissions from various groups, consulted a lot and made recommendations. So I don’t think the “Nazis” reference would have been used then, but we would need to see the original document to be sure.

    3. The wayback machine does not show anything at that link from late 2015 to 2019 except sometimes notes that the link is unavailable or that the website is being changed. https://twitter.com/wasootch/status/1459271253806571526.
    After checking the wayback machine links, I think the 2010 version stayed up from 2010 until October 2015.

    4. The Kenney gov’t passed an Education Act in 2019 and according to one media article, a bunch of documents were put online after being checked to make sure the reference to the Act was updated. It’s possible the 2010 version, which also has the “Nazis” reference, was removed from the gov’t website in 2015, then tossed back on in 2020.
    https://calgaryherald.com/news/politics/alberta-education-pulls-document-recommending-students-also-learn-positive-nazi-economic-policies/wcm/4de620b3-c584-4a50-9000-02476c4ddf96?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1636753619

    But, as Kim Siever and others point out, in the 2020 version one of the “Nazis” references was changed to “German” but the other remains in the same paragraph. So someone noticed it was a problem but did not fix it adequately before posting it in 2020? or 2021? Sloppy.
    https://kimsiever.ca/2021/11/12/ab-ed-minister-under-fire-for-document-praising-nazis/
    And why doesn’t the new 2020 version show up on the wayback machine until late 2021? Was it at a different link entirely?

    • Valerie, thanks for this. I wondered about LaGrange’s comment that the Nazi reference has been part of the guidance document since 1984, because that would mean it was not removed when the NDP came to power. The point you make in #3 above is that it may have been removed between 2015 and 2019 and then added back to the guidance document in 2020.
      We may never get the full picture, but one thing we know for certain is that it was in the document in Nov 2021 and the Minister of Education is not taking accountability for it nor the horrible revised curriculum the Kenney government is forcing upon the school boards.

  6. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Thanks for another great blog. There is nothing positive about Adolf Hitler, facism, the Nazis, Europe under the Nazis, and any country that suffered under the brutality of this evil regime. I know people who suffered under the Nazis, and their experiences weren’t good. I had an uncle who was from Eastern Europe, by the Polish, Ukrainian border, and he was forcibly conscripted into the German army, after his village was occupied by the Nazis. I knew a school secretary, from Poland, and her and her mom were interned in a concentration camp, where they were badly, abused, beaten, tortured, and mistreated, and suffered badly with the other inmates. Also, a friend of mine is Dutch Canadian, and his parents were in Holland, during World War 2, when Holland was suffering under Nazi control. In Alberta, we had a school teacher, from central Alberta, Jim Keegstra, who was brainwashing his students that the Holocaust never happened. Many of his former students still adhere to this lie. Alberta had two Social Credit premiers, William Aberhart, and Ernest Manning, (the father of Preston Manning), who were known anti-Semites. The UCP also has an MLA, Grant Hunter, who has some very twisted views, and even got them published in newspapers, including mentioning things like superior Aryan stock. We are to be learning from history, so we do not repeat it, and we can’t sugarcoat history. Canada does not have a spotless past either, with the treatment of our First Nations, Metis, Inuit, Chinese, Japanese, Ukrainians, and others. We must not cover up and downplay this history. The UCP seems intent on doing this. The UCP’s education curriculum redo is so full of flaws, that it should be scrapped. I don’t know who the UCP were consulting here, with their school curriculum redo, but I doubt that it was Alberta parents.

    • Dwayne, I agree with everything you’ve said. I know of several families who’ve said the UCP’s rewrite of the curriculum was the last straw for them. Some have moved to BC. Other’s packed up and moved to the States.
      Kenney is under the deluded impression that all it takes to attract big business is corporate tax cuts, but this is not the case. Big businesses want more than reduced taxes, they want good schools, a good healthcare system, the arts, a healthy environment, etc so people (employees) will come here and work for their companies. I’m reminded of the hoopla the NEB when through trying to convince its staff to leave Ontario and move to BC. Ditto TCPL. When your key employees won’t come, you’ve got a problem. And when your key employees leave because the government has made a mess of the province, you’ve got an even bigger problem.

  7. Scott Deederly says:

    The Nazis, when they came to power in January 1933, inherited the plans and programs of the Weimar Republic, introduced by the government of Kurt von Schleicher in 1932, for very large public works programs supported by deficit spending (like the construction of the Autobahn network) to stimulate the economy and reduce Germany’s high 30% unemployment rate. These were programs all planned during conservative Paul von Hindenburg’s presidency to tackle the depression and many were already underway on a small scale in the early 1930s… The first public Autobahn, now called the A555 connecting Cologne and Bonn, was opened on August 6, 1932 by Konrad Adenauer (Mayor of Cologne from 1917 to 1933 and future first chancellor of West Germany). The Nazis used effective propaganda to brand the initiatives as their own, with Hitler claiming he sketched out the core autobahn system while he was in prison in 1924, and this myth persists to this day. The Autobahn was going to be built no matter who was in power. The public works were already in the works, the Nazis gained power while program implementation was in progress/starting. What the Nazis added to the Weimar Republic’s depression era economic recovery plans were to combined the public works program with massive rearmament spending and eventually conscription. So yes the economy did recover, unemployment fell, but the spending on and expansion of the armed forces was, over the long-term, financially unsustainable with its only purpose being aggressive war. See “Nazi pork and popularity: How Hitler’s roads won German hearts and minds” by Hans-Joachim Voth, Nico Voigtländer 22 May 2014 – https://voxeu.org/article/nazi-pork-and-popularity-how-hitler-s-roads-won-german-hearts-and-minds & “The myth of German Autobahn” by Ann-Christin Dimon August 2019 – https://www.beyond-history.com/en/english-beyond-history-blog/article/2019/08/06/the-myth-of-german-autobahn/ and read Adam Tooze’s 2006 “The Wages of Destruction: The Making and the Breaking of the Nazi Economy” New York: Viking. ISBN 978-0-670-03826-8 & see his presentation on WW2TV at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_pZtzELV48

    • Scott: thank you for this. You’ve presented a number of sources that discredit the claim presented in the so-called diversity and respect guidance document. It is troubling that the government official who dreamed up the Nazis did good things argument didn’t bother to do the same level of research. Actually, it’s more than troubling, it’s shocking and leads me to suspect other agendas were at play.

  8. Dave says:

    Ironic that this problematic document goes back to 1984, isn’t it? It is also sad, I had expected better of the Department of Education, despite the current hapless minister.

    However, I suppose we can’t really expect Ms. LaGrange to spend much time cleaning up past messes, when she has been busy for the last few years creating so many new ones.

    In the current world, social media seems to allow all sorts of bs to flourish. So, more than ever we need a strong education system and curriculum to offset this.

    • Carlos says:

      ‘In the current world, social media seems to allow all sorts of bs to flourish. So, more than ever we need a strong education system and curriculum to offset this.’

      I agree a strong education system is fundamental and it should be a complete education and not just what is good for employers.
      Also I strongly believe that false information in social media has to be controlled much better than what is happening now. Anything goes is not good enough and it has already caused some serious issues. Easy to assume that if the current situation does not change, the owners of social media will be controlling which way the world goes.
      Needless to say that it will be the way that pays better, social consequences not included.

    • Dave, excellent point…LaGRange is so busy creating new messes that she doesn’t have time to clean up the old messes. Given that the UCP is determined to ram their crappy curriculum down our throats we will have a whole lot more cleaning up to do when they’re tossed out of power in 2023. The challenges facing the NDP are mind boggling. They’ll have to sort out everything from healthcare to education to AISH and other social services, to the environment, coal mining…the list is endless.
      The thing I can’t get over is the die hard UCP members (I know a few) who insist Notley “ruined” the province and they’ll be damned if they let her return and do it again. Kenney has wreaked more destruction than Klein, Stelmach and Redford combined.
      Talk about being blinded by ideology.

  9. ronmac says:

    Hitler and the Nazis didn’t invent anti-Semiticism. When the Germans marched into Eastern Europe some of the locals were only too happy to embrace Nazism. Ukrainian nationalists murdered an estimated one million Jews and they did it with such zeal (“one bullet, one Jew” was the motto of
    the day) that even the Germans were shocked.

    But let’s talk about the present day. The Ottawa Citizen recently broke a story about a Canadian delegation getting their picture taken with members of the infamous Azov Battalion in Ukraine who have made no secret of their admiration of Hitler and the genocidal Ukrainian nationalists of the past. Worse there are allegations that Canadians advisors are training and equipping Azov battalion.

    https://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/canadian-officials-who-met-with-ukrainian-unit-linked-to-neo-nazis-feared-exposure-by-news-media-documents

  10. Carlos says:

    David Climenhaga as usual had a great post on the newest scandal

    https://albertapolitics.ca/2021/11/does-spat-between-once-simpatico-columnist-and-jason-kenney-signal-the-end-of-the-road-for-albertas-premier/

    I am starting to believe that we will get rid of this charade sooner that April. I certainly hope so

  11. Dwayne says:

    Susan: In the midst of all the problems the UCP causes for Alberta, I’d thought I’d share something positive. This song was recorded 50 years ago today, in Edmonton, at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium. It is Whaling Stories, by the British rock band, Procol Harum. Joining the band is the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, and the Da Camera Singers. It’s a great piece of work, on a great live album. The (late) Dave Ball does brilliant guitar work, at only age 21. He replaced Robin Trower in the band, in 1971. The (late) BJ Wilson plays some spectacular drums here.

    • Carlos says:

      Great band one of my favorites and with an interesting personal story – when I read this story I did not live in Canada. At the time I remember looking at the map and think wow this is very up North and interesting that such a small city in the middle of nowhere would be having a concert with a rock band and a symphony orchestra. Never ever crossed my mind that one day I would be moving there and make Canada my home.
      I love Procol Harum and this is a great song that takes me back a long way
      Thank you

      • Dwayne says:

        Carlos: Seeing Procol Harum live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra is an awesome experience. I’ve done that, in 1992, and in 2010, and I’ve met the various band members. I wasn’t at the original concert, which also gave us this fantastic track, A Salty Dog. 50 years later, after this was recorded, on November 18, 1971, this still sounds amazing. I have this recording, and other music by Procol Harum.

  12. I agree with your comment, Susan, that “Kenney has wreaked more destruction than Klein, Stelmach and Redford combined.
    Talk about being blinded by ideology.”
    Yes, they’re blinded by ideology, but some are also blinded by hate. I suggest that Kenney and some of his MLAs (indeed, many of his supporters) find the very idea of a Liberal or NDP government disgusting and despicable, regardless of policies they propose that might well benefit everyone, including themselves. They can’t see beyond their hatred and, as we know, intense emotions short-circuit reason.

    • Carlos says:

      Well said Judy – this era of neo-liberal + fascist overtones is really done and it is obvious to anyone except Jason Kenney that people in general in Alberta are not interested in this kind of disrespect in general and much less their education and fiscal policies that benefits solely corporations or other interests but certainly not Albertans.
      Yes they have some fans and support but these people really need to have a serious conversations with themselves because it is clear this government is incompetent to run this province. Be it leadership or ideology it is ridiculous and will only destroy the minimum we have as our commons. No thank you. This time it will not be so easy – the world is changing fast and despite the crisis we are facing we will hopefully move to a better place not what we have been witnessing from the UCP.

      • Carlos says:

        I also would like to add that it is not just how this government dealt with Covid so far – that seams to be the only reason the media justifies the discontent in Alberta. It is the cheating , the constant scandal including drinking and sexual harassments, the lack of vision of what our future should be, bad decisions on coal, bad education changes that no one wants and the insults to our prime minister and Ottawa in general are disgusting and inappropriate to just go ahead and accept everything like beggars. It is on and on – COVID is just the topping on the pile of CRAP that comes out of this government. It is so seriously bad that even converted Rick Bell from the Sun into a progressive. WHAT? Yes it is true the man cannot believe the UCP (can you imagine?)

  13. Carlos says:

    WOW read this and you will have a pretty good idea who our premier is and it is not pretty
    this is unreal to me and can only be avoided one way – is to take this guy physically to jail – wow talk about ethics !!

    https://albertapolitics.ca/2021/11/expecting-a-battle-royale-over-jason-kenneys-fate-at-this-weekends-ucp-annual-general-meeting-dont-bet-on-it/

  14. jerrymacgp says:

    Thank you, Ms Soapbox. This is the first time I’ve encountered the “Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus”. Reminds me of those “house hippo” ads …

    As for this odious document, in any normal government someone’s head — likely the Minister’s — would roll for this sort of thing.

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