Two Educators Quit Over Manfred Hausmann’s ‘The Snail’

VIENNA — (Reuters) — Two senior Austrian educators will step down over a scandal in which a test administered to graduating high school students featured an essay by a Nazi apologist, the latest in a series of missteps in awarding high school diplomas.

Following a high-profile data leak and a failure to communicate new grading scales, the final straw came when this year’s German test included a 1947 text by German author Manfred Hausmann, who had worked for Nazi propaganda magazine Das Reich.

Students were asked to reflect on how “The Snail” – in which a gardener decides the pest has to die to protect his plants – dealt with questions about nature and life. The test omitted to mention the broader context of the author’s Nazi past.

The case has caused embarrassment and anger in Austria, which was annexed by Nazi Germany into the Third Reich in 1938 and has been struggling for decades to escape a reputation for brushing its history under the carpet.

Salzburg educator Wolfgang Muehlbacher, part of a group of critical authors who exposed the incident, said a 15-member advisory panel of literature experts who picked the text had clearly missed its significance.

“I assume the people simply were not exact enough, took too little time for this so that they did not see what was going on,” he said. “Former Nazis who were involved in this whole machinery of crime have to read the text as absolving them.”

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