German-Dutch Co-operation on Textbooks

The relationship between Germany and the Netherlands shows that neighbors do not always harmonize. On and off, since the 1950s, there have been discussions about the portrayal of the Netherlands in German school textbooks and Germany in Dutch textbooks. The title of a book published in 1988 documenting German-Dutch work on textbooks illustrates this paradox: Nachbarn zwischen Nähe und Distanz (Neighbors between Proximity and Distance). In 1993, as a result of an opinion-poll conducted by the Dutch Clingendael Institute, debates about school textbooks once again resumed. This study revealed the overwhelmingly negative view Dutch youths continue to have of Germany. Partners in this new round of textbook analysis were the Georg Eckert Institute on the German side, and the Institute for the Development of Curricula (Specialisten in Leerplanontwikkeling - SLO) on the Dutch side. The different experiences and methodological approaches of both institutions proved fruitful for this recent endeavor. 

In June 1995, first results were presented at a conference in Braunschweig. They are published in the series of the Georg Eckert Institute. In 1996, a second conference, which dealt less with the analysis of actual stereotypes and prejudices, and focused more on methodological problems of the analysis of school textbooks, took place in Enschede. In 1997, the project was completed with the publication of the results of the German-Dutch working group (in Dutch), dealing specifically with German as a foreign language and with history. A summary of the results was also published in German in 1999.


  • Verena Radkau, Das Deutschlandbild in niederländischen Schulbüchern für Geschichte, Geographie, Sozialkunde und Deutsch als Fremdsprache. Ergebnisse einer Schulbuchanalyse des Niederländischen Instituts für Lehrplanentwicklung, Braunschweig: Georg-Eckert-Institut, 1999
  • Verena Radkau, "Mehr Kommunikation durch Information? Ergebnisse der deutsch-niederländischen Schulbucharbeit", in: Eichholz Brief. Zeitschrift zur politischen Bildung, vol. 1 (1997): 114-21
  • Dick Meijer and Marita Tholey, Het Duitslandbeeld in Nederlandse Leermiddelen, Enschede: Specialisten in Leerplanontwikkeling - SLO, 1997
  • Ursula A.J. Becher (ed.), Grenzen und Ambivalenzen. Analysen zum Deutschlandbild in den Niederlanden und in niederländischen Schulbüchern, Frankfurt a. M.: Diesterweg, 1996
  • Jürgen C. Heß and Hanna Schissler (eds.), Nachbarn zwischen Nähe und Distanz. Deutschland und die Niederlande, Frankfurt a. M.: Diesterweg, 1988