On Austrian Soil: Teaching Those I Was Taught to Hate

In 1996, Sondra Perl journeyed into alien territory: Austria, Hitler’s birthplace, and the territory of her own hatred. In this book, she describes what happened when she found herself teaching Austrians whose parents had been Nazis. Her students preferred to bury their parents’ shameful past, but under Perl’s guidance and encouragement, they began to examine how their silences masked their own moral stances. Perl also explored how as a young Jewish girl, she was taught to cast all Germans and Austrians as her enemies. Writing together, Perl and these teachers discovered the power of dialogue to release them from the sway of lifelong prejudices.

Sondra Perl states: “There is no teacher’s guide for this journey: the road to understanding is rocky and full of pitfalls. But in times of war when dialogue seems impossible and children are being taught to hate their neighbors, there is no more pressing need than to discover what it takes to see beyond our own narrow frames of reference.”

Download Chapter 1: A Simple Invitation

Download Chapter 2: History Becomes Real


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