Should We Be More Neutral When Talking About History?

I have to admit, I don’t really know where this post is going so I think it might end up as one of my vague rambly posts, so I apologise now if that isn’t your thing but I’d love it if you still skipped to the bottom and told me what you think in the comments!

So you may or may not know that at the start of the year, before everything kicked off in this part of the world, I jetted off to Luxembourg (boarding a plane seems like a distant memory now!). Now, for anybody who like me just needs a bit of a refresher on the full line up of who was on what side in the wars, Germany claimed Luxembourg during World War 2 (1939-45) and Luxembourg wasn’t liberated until 1944 – I think this information is pretty important for this post going forward.

So while in Luxembourg I went to a military museum, which was basically a war museum. It was a pretty great museum and I’m sure I’ll talk about that more in my Luxembourg posts when I get round to writing them. Something that struck me though, and that I would continue to notice as I went about life in Luxembourg, is how they addressed Hitler and the Nazis. It was so very matter of fact. There was so much more information about their actions and memorabilia relating to the Nazis then I think I have ever seen in a museum anyway else.

Now, we all know that the things Hitler did were not good, he was not a friend of humanity. If you look at history here in Britain, somewhat understandably, you’re knowledge of World War 2 is mostly HITLER WAS BAD, here’s all the good things we did to beat Hitler.

I don’t doubt that Luxembourg’s approach the the happenings of World War 2 are largely influenced by the fact that they were infiltrated by the Nazis for such a long time, much in the same way that the way we learn the war here is skewed by our country’s experience and approach.

Now understand, when I say the way that Luxembourg appears to approach the topic isn’t, like, Hitler was good. It’s not like they’re singing the praises of the Nazis. They talk about both sides equally. It’s all facts. Emotions aside, their outlook on their history is literally just…their history? I’m sure everyone in Luxembourg has their opinions and I’m sure at least most if not all of them would tell you that Hitler was a bad man, but what they do is they lay out the facts and let you absorb them.

I told you that I didn’t really know where this post was going, and this is exactly where we have ended up. I realise that it’s a really vague argument for a superficial topic, but I have kind of decided that I think the world might be a better place if everywhere taught their history in as neutral and balanced a way as possible. Not just the story of the wars, but every aspect of history. No matter how we deny it, we are all susceptible to absorbing bias especially with developing brains. Sure we can unlearn the bias, but it would be infinitely better if the bias was never there in the first place. I’m not saying racism would suddenly stop existing because obviously that’s a much deeper issue, but I do believe that neutralising the way we learn could impact on people’s prejudices and discriminatory tendencies.

What do you think? Should we learn about history in a neutral way? I’m super interested to hear what everybody’s thoughts are!

4 thoughts on “Should We Be More Neutral When Talking About History?

  1. This is a really interesting thought – though I feel making sure the people you are teaching have a solid understanding of right from wrong would be needed if all of history was taught as neutral.

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  2. I must admit, I hated history at school but find I have a real interest in it now. It’s a difficult one. I’m at the age where I have the wisdom and knowledge to be able to judge people and events, but would I have been able to have been able to take it in at school? I’m not so sure. It never seemed real as a child.

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  3. Very interesting thought, my nan is german and she met my grandad at the end of the war, he was stationed at the end of her road, whenever anyone finds out they all act a bit funny and never know how to approach anything about the war, but now aged 91 my nan says she was always treated lovely when she moved to this country, so I guess not everyone was judgemental after the war, just maybe people going forward who were not there, which makes your neutral reporting sound like a fab idea.

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