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The New York Times, December 14, 1947

German Pupils to Get Almost as Many Texts in 3 Months as They Did in 2 Years


Special to The New York Times.

BERLIN, Dec. 13 - Military government officials in charge of education disclosed this week that launching of a publication program that would provide during the first quarter of the new year almost as many textbooks as had been published in the United States zone in the two and a half years of occupation. Approximately 3,000,000 books will be printed for schools in the zone and the American sector of this city.

The sharply stepped up publishing program, however, which has been held up for lack of funds and paper, still will compare unfavorably with the publishing programs in other zones, particularly with that in the Soviet zone. According to official figures, the Soviet administration has devoted the most energy and funds to supplying textbooks for elementary, secondary and vocational schools. For the 3,300,000 students in their zone, they have printed 27,000,000 books.

In this type of publishing activity the British rank second, with 13,300,000 volumes for 3,700,000 pupils. The French have the highest ratio of textbooks to students, having printed 6,000,000 volumes for the 900,000 students in their zone. The American record thus far has been 4,400,000 for 2,700,000 students.

Under the new program provision has been made to print at least 100,000 volumes for universities. These will be the first to have been printed in the United States zone since the war's end. In addition, a small tonnage of newsprint is to be made available for other education publications, youth magazines and religious material.

The importance of this new program is demonstrated by a few incidents that have occurred in the Education Committee of this city's Kommandatura. By a four-power ruling, all school books for Berlin schools must bear the approval of the Kommandatura. Recently the Soviet member offered for use in the schools copies of Mark Twain's "Adventures of Tom Sawyer," some of Jack London's works and other American classics.

The Americans were put in the strange position of having to refuse the use of these American classics by German students. This was done because the Soviet-printed copies of these works contained Soviet prefaces and footnotes to "help" teachers and students get the full significance of these writings.

Thus, the preface to "Tom Sawyer" explained:

"Mark Twain is a humoristic and sarcastic writer. His scorn is directed primarily against the semi-education of the parvenus and refined persons who imitate the European way of life. The whole mendacity of the capitalistic class, the hypocrisy and bigotry of the United States of his time are attacked by him without any leniency and mercy. But no matter how relentlessly he scourges bigotry and phariseeism, he can't help smiling again and again, although sometimes very sadly and almost in tears, about the least bit of humaneness that he scents even in the worst rascal and sinner."

The preface writer also has some words about poor Huckleberry Finn. Huck, who is from a poor family, is praised with these remarks:

"Society looks down upon him, for it feels that it itself is to blame for Huck's need and poverty and its consequences. Together with his friends, Huck proves to the world that a regular fellow can be found inside rags."

The sheer pressure of the availability of these volumes among the book-hungry students is felt by the American education officials, who for lack of funds have been unable to provide alternative material for German students. They have expressed hope that the new publishing program is only a pump-primer for a larger one still.

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