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Saxony makes geography history

June 9, 2016

High school students in Saxony may become a bit out of touch with geography and more familiar with 20th century history as of next year. A new rule will make history compulsory for students in the eastern German state.

Bibliotheksregal - Geschichtsbücher
Image: Hanna-Luise Lass

Saxon Premier Stanislaw Tillich has said his state's students in the 10th grade will no longer be able to choose between geography and history as of the coming school year, which begins in early August.

"As of the coming school year, history will be compulsory," he told Thursday's edition of the daily "Rheinische Post."

The change in curriculum is intended to promote students' ability to question neo-Nazi and other far-right racist and xenophobic views.

"Young people have to learn and understand the difference between freedom and democracy on one hand and totalitarianism and dictatorship on the other," Tillich said.

In addition to the 10th grade, the history of the 20th century, particularly Germany's role in both World War One, World War Two and the Holocaust, is addressed extensively in several ways in classes on religion and ethics, politics and German literature. The history of divided Germany, with Saxony formerly a part of communist East Germany, also features on the curriculum.

A number of xenophobic attacks have taken place in Saxony in recent years and even the behavior of police officers and politicians has been called into question. The anti-Islamic group PEGIDA also has its roots in the Saxon capital of Dresden.

sms/msh (dpa, epd)