(May 15, 2019 / JNS) A Wisconsin high school is no longer permitting seniors to submit quotes to have placed under their photos after a quotation attributed to Adolf Hitler appeared in the recently released yearbook.
Administrators at Southwest High School in Green Bay, Wis., told families on Friday that a parent had expressed disapproval over the following: “ ‘If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.’ ” — Adolf Hitler
The quote is actually a paraphrase of a statement attributed to Joseph Goebbels, who was Hitler’s propaganda chief.
While that quote slipped through the editing process, other inappropriate ones did not.
Green Bay School District spokesperson Lori Blakeslee told The Green Bay Press Gazette, which first reported this development, that she has yet to talk to the student who submitted the quote, and that she’s unsure what made him submit it.
David Coury, professor of humanities and German at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, told The Green Bay Press Gazette: “Is it a big deal? To me, I would say that particular quote is somewhat different (than other Nazi quotations). It speaks to the power of propaganda and how people can be manipulated by strong figures or by the forces of propaganda.”
Peter Staudenmaier, associate professor of history at Marquette University in Milwaukee, told the outlet: “[The student] may well have been quoting it as a warning.”
Rabbi Moishe Steigmann of Congregation Cnesses Israel in Green Bay told the Gazette that the incident presents a teachable lesson.
“The flip side though, being in a school, part of the responsibility of the school is to teach and educate the students … it’s learning how to engage with people and how to engage with the world,” he said. “Building levels of tolerance and understanding.”