If all Europeans did nothing else for the next 1000 years but to study the barbarity of the Holocaust, they would not even scratch the surface of understanding their everlasting heritage of evil.
Those who oppose Sarkozy's idea are the equivalent of modern day collaborators with the Nazis.
Antisemitism and its evils are very much alive in Europe today. If this educational inoculation program will help stamp out the scourge, then bravo Sarkozy.
Sarkozy: Pupils will be 'twinned' with Nazi victims
By John Lichfield in Paris
His proposal that primary school children should be, in effect, "twinned" with young victims of the Nazi genocide has generated a cacophony of protest, as well as praise.
Most teaching unions have condemned the proposal as ill-considered and likely to place too great an emotional and psychological burden on the young. Even some Jewish leaders and writers fear the idea is "exceptionally morbid" and could provoke an anti-Semitic backlash. MPs have complained that M. Sarkozy is trying to micro-manage the national curriculum and impose too emotive an approach on the learning of history.
However, most Jewish organisations have welcomed the idea, as have some of the President's leading left-wing opponents, including his main rival in last year's election, Ségolène Royal.
In a speech to France's main Jewish group, M. Sarkozy said that from next year, each pupil in their final year of primary school would be "entrusted with the memory" of one of the 11,000 French-Jewish children who were murdered in Nazi concentration camps. "[10 and 11-year-olds] must learn the name and life story of a child who died in the Shoah," he said. "Nothing is more moving for children than to read the story of a child their own age, who had the same games, the same joys and the same hopes as they have.
"This is a way of fighting all kinds of racism, all kinds of discrimination, all kinds of barbarity by reaching children through the story of children of their own age."
His idea will be developed and implemented by Hélène Waysbord-Loing, an educational expert who is also president of a Lyons memorial to a group of Jewish children who were rounded up in 1944 and murdered at Auschwitz. She will provide teachers with life stories of some of the French-Jewish victims of the Nazis – without dwelling on the manner in which they died.
Teaching unions said the plan was "shocking" and potentially damaging psychologically for the young.
Esther Benbassa, a Jewish-French historian, said history should not be personalised. "Emotion is ephemeral. You should not use emotion as teaching tool. There is something exceptionally morbid about this idea."
The writer and philosopher Pascal Bruckner said it was wrong to confuse history and commemoration. Young French people were already "force-fed" the Holocaust but this had not prevented a rise in anti-Semitism, he pointed out. He added that M. Sarkozy's idea would encourage an "emotional auction" in which other ethnic groups, such as blacks and Arabs, would try to prove they were also victims of human barbarity and injustice.
Marie-Odile Rucine, a paediatrician, said the plan was dangerous because pre-pubescent children were unable to distance themselves from such dark events.
President Sarkozy has a habit of producing startling ideas from nowhere. His last attempt to impose an emotive approach to history teaching backfired badly. He ordered that all secondary school teachers must read out the final letter from a young wartime resistance hero facing execution. Many staff refused to do so.