Teacher Suspended for Teaching About the Holocaust

Published: September 2nd 2010
in News » World

A photo of the Holocaust
Pic: wikimedia commons

According to French news agencies le Figaro and AFP, a high school history teacher in Nancy, France has been suspended for teaching “too much” about the Holocaust, causing her classes to lack “distance, neutrality and secularism.” Education ministry officials investigated the teachings of the educator, Catherine Pederzoli-Ventura and filed a report about the matter back in July.


In the official suspension notice, the Metz–Nancy Academy stated that Pederzoli-Ventura, a 58-year-old practicing Jew lacked objectivity while teaching, and that she had “brainwashed” her students. In addition to in-class Holocaust education, Pederzoli-Ventura has also organized trips to Poland and the Czech Republic in the past for her students to see and learn about the Nazi death camps. This was also criticized in the report.


Back in December, when the French Minister of Education Luc Chatel visited the high school at which Pederzoli-Ventura teaches, some of her students staged a protest against the decision to cut in half the number of students travelling to Poland on an upcoming trip. This resulted in Pederzoli-Ventura being accused of inciting the protest.


On Tuesday, Pederzoli-Ventura’s lawyer Christine Tadic said that the trips to the camps are nothing new and that the teacher has been organizing them for the past 15 years. Only recently did the trips fall under the microscope. “In 2007, a new administration took over the school and they teamed up against her,” said Tadic. “They want to get rid of her.” She also claimed that “had the teacher been Christian, no one would have accused her of brainwashing.”


The principle of secularism and neutrality in France, which Pederzoli-Ventura has been accused of breaching, is meant to protect the separation of church and state in the country. Among the criticisms that have led to this accusation include using the word “Holocaust” during a meeting with investigators a total of 14 times, while only using the more neutral term “massacre” twice to refer to the horrific events that left six million Jews dead.


Pederzoli-Ventura has filed an appeal to overturn the decision to suspend her from teaching. “The only crime I have committed is being Jewish,” she said in the petition. Tadic also filed for an injunction over the teacher’s suspension on Tuesday, leaving the court 15 days to rule on the appeal.

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