Europe

Redeeming the Memory of the Holocaust

French president's plan shows promise but carries a potential problem.

In less than a year as the president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy has consistently grabbed sensational headlines. Twice divorced, Sarkozy married a popular singer and former model in December 2007. More scandalous for France, he talks often about God, leaving some to believe he threatens the nation's strict separation of church and state.

Sarkozy's most recent controversy touches another nerve made sensitive by France's history. Last week he announced that every fifth-grader will learn about a French child killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust. The idea sounds rather innocuous to American ears, given the popularity of Anne Frank's diary. But to some critics, Sarkozy's plan will only disturb children. And they worry about how the growing population of Muslim immigrants will react. But there is another reason for caution: France has a troubled history of anti-Semitism. For centuries, Christians in France and other European countries lashed out at their Jewish neighbors in pogroms, ostensibly ...

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