The Führer's Islands
"Hitler is just great, isn't he?" - Indonesian college students shall learn, not to idolize the Führer anymore.
"taz" article written by Anett Keller, translated from German by me.
photo by Luisa Bubner: "Radfahren... macht mir Spaß" - "I love bicycling" is the message on this cotton bag with the happy Adolf portrait...
YOGYAKARTA (taz) - Luisa Bubner is studying for two months now in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta. The ethnology student doesn't want to tell new friends that she's from Germany anymore. Too often, they ask "Hitler is just great, isn't he?"
The cult about Adolf Hitler is not restricted to the verbal realm, but many also wear Nazi emblems and logos on buttons, caps and shirts. It's similar in other Asian nations, such as Thailand, or in India. The holocaust was long ago and far, far away and is most often not even a topic in school education. "Mein Kampf" can be purchased freely in Indonesia - just like "Hitler Died in Indonesia", an obscure piece of fiction about the Führer escaping to Asia.
Svenja Völkert, Katja Krause and Susann Oettel teach German at the state-owned Yogyakarta University and encounter the Hitler admiration on a daily basis. Because of that, they started a seminar about national socialism on November 2 - in Indonesian.
About 150 students fill the seminar room - among them 19-year-old Agnes Afnuary, who refers to Hitler as having been "powerful and decisive". When talking about Adolf Hitler, she uses the Indonesian word "beliau", which expresses reverence. Agnes knows, that Hitler committed heinous crimes, "but I don't really know about the details", she says. The indifference can be explained in part by the fact, that German language studies are often second choice only for the students, lecturer Svenja Völkert explains: "Many of our 450 students don't choose German for a passion or out of genuine interest, but only since they haven't qualified for other language studies". The seminar begins...
Völkert and Oettel present a fast tour de force through the German history, from the Weimar Republic over the great depression of 1929 to the rise of the national socialist party and the holocaust. Inbetween, they show movies of liberated concentration camps. Agnes covers her face with her notepad, facing the horror of seeing mounds of corpses and the gas chambers.
The horror still shows on her face after the lecture has ended. "Now I understand, why the Germans are so sensitive, when the symbols of that era are concerned", Agnes says. She wants to know more. "We're going to be teachers of German one day. If we don't know about these things, who will?"
The original article (in German) can be viewed here: