NJ girl, 10, calling Hitler 'pretty great' in fifth-grade essay taken 'out of context', says school
Maugham Elementary School in Tenafly has ruffled some feathers after photos of a fifth grader's essay surfaced online. Written by a 10-year-old girl, the essay praised Adolf Hitler and spoke about his 'great' achievements, hailing him as a heroic figure. According to the New York Post, the essay was on display on the walls of the school for weeks until it came to the notice of parents. Local parent Lori Birk shared a photo of the essay on Facebook, which referred to Hitler saying, "My greatest accomplishment was uniting a great mass of German and Austrian people behind me.....I was pretty great, wasn’t I? I was very popular and many people followed me until I died."
Now, the school authority has stepped forward to defend the student, who even came to school dressed as Hitler. "Unfortunately, this assignment has been taken out of context, resulting in understandable anger and concern,” said Shauna DeMarco, the Superintendent of Tenafly Public Schools. She further clarified that the essay challenge urged students to "speak from the perspective of one of these individuals and how they might have perceived and rationalized their actions."
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Fifth-grader dressed as Hitler, lauded dictator’s ‘accomplishments.’ District is investigating. Fifth-graders at Maugham Elementary School in Tenafly, N.J. were tasked to write about the accomplishments of notable people and to dress up as their selected person.— ~𝓣𝓮𝓷𝓪𝓬𝓲𝓸𝓾𝓼 𝓣𝓮𝓪𝓱~ (@TeahCartel) June 1, 2021
What did the girl write in the essay?
In the controversial essay, the student who impersonated Hitler further added, "I rose to power as the leader of the Nazi party, becoming Chancellor in 1933 and then assuming the title of Führer and Reichskanzler in 1934. Führer and Reichskanzler mean leader and chancellor."
Aside from adding that Hitler was 'pretty great', the essay ended on the morbid note saying, "My belif (belief) in antisemitism drove me to kill more than 6 million Jews."
According to The Sun, the assignment was given as a part of a 'Character Development project" by a teacher, who is Jewish themselves. Following the outrage from concerned parents, the essay was taken down from the school wall, while the school superintendent condemned any kind of 'antisemitism, racism or bias.'
"Given that the lesson was specifically issued within the context of social justice, it is unfair to judge any student or teacher in this matter,” DeMarco added.
Meanwhile, fuming parents and locals called out the school referring to the essay as "one of the most f'd things" they have ever come across. Many even questioned the audacity of the school to let this happen in "one of the most Israeli towns in the country."
(1/9) On behalf of the Jewish community and other community leaders serving Tenafly residents, we are issuing the following statement.— JFNNJ (@JFNNJ) June 2, 2021
However, a deeper probe into the matter by Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, ascertained that the project was "not intended to be anti-Semitic". In a recent statement, JFNNJ said, "We want to assure the community that we have looked into the recent incident in the Maugham School in Tenafly, New Jersey, and are convinced that this was not intended to be anti-Semitic."