Russia of the 20th Century in the French School History Textbook

Publication type Article
Status Published
Affiliation: Institute of World History RAS
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Affiliation: Institute of World History RAS
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameISTORIYA

The article analyzes the place and image of Russia in the French history textbook for the senior class by Guillaume Le Quintrec, which is one of the most popular textbooks in France today and was written in accordance with the new school history curriculum adopted in 2019. Unlike the program and methodological recommendations for it, the textbook presents a fairly balanced analysis of the events that preceded World War II. The author focuses on the European "policy of appeasement of the aggressor" and on the Munich Agreement of 1938 as the culmination of this policy. The Soviet-German pact of 1939 is rightly presented by Le Quintrec as a forced measure on the part of Stalin after the failure of Soviet attempts to create a system of collective security in Europe. As for the description of the events of World War II in the textbook, they are more tendentious. The main events on the eastern front, although mentioned, are presented as an addition to what happened on the western front. Thus, French children may get the impression that the Battle of Stalingrad or the Battle of Moscow did not determine the events on the fronts, but only contributed to the victory of the Allies, which does not correspond to historical reality. However, in describing the events of the Second World War, the text of the textbook seems to be more historical than the content of the program, where the role of the USSR in the victory over Nazism is minimized. Also in the textbook, the main blame for the outbreak of the Cold War is laid on the USSR, and modern Russia is called a "resurgent force" that claims to change the world order. In general, despite the obvious negative trends in the approach to teaching history in European countries, on some key issues of the history of the 20th century, the text of Le Quintrec's textbook looks more balanced than the new French history curriculum adopted in 2019.

KeywordsFrance, history textbook, 20th century, history teaching, World War II, cold war
Publication date30.11.2022
Number of characters22340
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