Pressure from Turkey has resulted in the removal of a reference to the Armenian genocide from a German school curriculum, reports said Wednesday.
The eastern German state of Brandenburg has eliminated half a sentence on the Armenians included in ninth and tenth grade history classes after a Turkish diplomat complained to state Prime Minister Matthias Platzeck, the newspaper Die Welt reported.
In a chapter entitled “War, Technology and Civilian Populations” the school book text said “for example, the genocide of the Armenians population of Anatolia.” That passage has now been removed from school textbooks, the newspaper said.
Platzeck met regularly with Turkish diplomats and was “steeled” against their influence, the newspaper quoted him as saying. The prime minister added that genocide was too important an issue to be dealt with in just half a sentence. “Brandenburg’s curriculum was the only one in Germany which up until now included a reference to the murder of the Armenians,” said Die Welt.
Most historians say that between 600,000 and 1.5 million Armenians were killed in 1915 and 1916 under the Ottoman Turks during World War I. The Turkish government, which denies that a genocide took place, speaks of 200,000 dead.
A Turkish embassy spokesman in Berlin declined to comment directly on the report, but noted the initiative had come from the Turkish consulate responsible for Berlin and Brandenburg—not from the embassy itself.
Prime Minister Platzeck is a member of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s Social Democrats (SPD). Schroeder is a strong supporter of Turkey’s bid to become a member of the European Union. Germany has almost two million resident Turks—the biggest Turkish minority in the EU.
The Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which serves as junior coalition partner in Brandenburg’s government, is infuriated over the change to the state’s schoolbooks. “The impression created is fatal,” said Sven Patke, the state CDU secretary general.
The head of the Central Committee of Armenians in Germany, Schavarsh Ovassapian told Die Welt the move was “a scandal.” “It is depressing, if what’s in schoolbooks in Brandenburg can be dictated from Ankara,” he said.