“Count Your Way Through Germany” [by James Haskins] is a fun little children’s story book that teaches the numbers 1 through 10 in German. Each number is accompanied by a picture and short paragraph describing something German relating to that number. For example, the number acht tells how the Autobahn has eight lanes in urban areas. All very nice. Except that this is the paragraph for eins:

Not long ago, Germany was one land divided into two nations. After Germany was defeated in World War II, the nations who won the war could not agree on how to run Germany. But they wanted to make sure that Germany wouldn’t become strong enough to go to war again. They decided to divide the country into two parts, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

In 1990, East and West Germans overcame their differences, and Germany became one nation again. The newly unified country kept the name of the Federal Republic of Germany. Every year on October 3, the German people celebrate Reunification Day.

Is it just me, or is this a bit misleading? I know it’s a kid’s book, and all, but COME ON.

The nations who won the war could not agree on how to run Germany.” That means that control of three of the four post-war zones were returned to the Germans, while the fourth zone, controlled by the USSR, was not.

They decided to divide the country into two parts” means that no one in their right mind would allow the Soviets to get their hands on the other three-fourths of the country. Even Berlin, deep in the East. Even when the Soviets tried to starve it. I’m starting to see a trend.

In 1990, East and West Germans overcame their differences” means that the East Germans were finally able cross the line into West Germany without fear of being blown to smithereens by machine guns, land mines, or both.

It sounds as if the East Germans finally decided that they’d get along with the West Germans. They had a change of heart. And, having decided, they just, like, reunified. Isn’t that special?

I’ll grant that kids reading this book aren’t at all interested in the political, social, or military aspects of post-WW2 Europe, but this seems to blame everyone equally and gives credit to the Germans alone for ending the silly division. Start brainwashing ’em when they’re young, I guess.

The East Germans were all but enslaved for decades, many risked their lives to escape to the West, and only the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the weakening of the USSR freed Eastern Europe. But why can’t we all just get along?

There. I made it through that entire post without once mentioning Ronald Reagan.

Update 20:04 14 Jul 2003

Maybe they should name a ship after him or something…