BERLIN (Reuters) - German schools will launch a comic book next week that aims to teach above all underprivileged children about the Nazi era and the Holocaust.
Although German schools already make a big effort to give pupils a thorough education about the Nazi era, racist violence remains a problem, and the revival of Germany's Jewish community has brought a rise in anti-Semitism with it.
The Tintin-style comic book is called "The Search", and tells the story of Esther, a fictional Jewish survivor of the Holocaust.
Created by the Dutch cartoonist Eric Heuvel, it is already available in the Netherlands. Berlin's Anne Frank Centre, which is backing the project, thinks it will serve a purpose in Germany, too.
"There is not a major gap in the way Germany teaches the history of this era, but this is a new approach," said spokeswoman Melina Feingold, noting that the book could reach some of the children who are least interested in schoolwork:
"We hope the comic will get even underprivileged kids interested in learning about the Holocaust."
The 61-page book, already available in various European languages, will be used alongside worksheets in history classes at secondary schools in Berlin for six months, after which the project hopes to go nationwide.
The book, based on fact, describes how Jews in Germany and the Nazi-occupied Netherlands experienced the genocidal Nazi persecution that took the lives of 6 million European Jews.
It includes the Night of Broken Glass in November 1938, when Jews were beaten and their homes, businesses and synagogues were ransacked and, later on, the deportations to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Through pictures and realistic dialogue, the book depicts the suffering and humiliation that Jews endured as they were stripped of their livelihoods, ostracized and, finally, sent to camps to be worked to death or gassed.
After five decades when it had only a handful of Jewish residents, Germany now has the world's fastest growing Jewish community, with 220,000 arriving from the former Soviet Union since 1990.
But violent anti-Semitic crime is also increasing. Last month, five Jewish teenagers were attacked by a group of punks and subjected to anti-Semitic abuse.
The new comic book is a sequel to Heuvel's "The Discovery", also aimed at school children, based on Jewish history in Europe from 1933 to 1940.
(Editing by Kevin Liffey)