Teacher asks students to calculate gassing of Jews

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PARIS — A French high school teacher is facing disciplinary proceedings for giving her students a physics test in which she asked them to calculate the amount of carbon monoxide needed to kill Jews during the Holocaust.

"Hitler killed Jews by locking them in trucks with the exhaust pipe feeding fumes inside," the test question read. "With a truck volume of 50 cubic meters, what volume of carbon monoxide does it take to reach the fatal ratio of 5 per 1,000?"

"If the people take an average of 20 minutes to die, how much carbon monoxide did the engine produce per hour?" it added.

The teacher, who is reportedly Jewish, told the principal of the College des Sept Mares near Versailles that she had been giving the exercise to students for several years and that her intention was to denounce the Holocaust and fight those who deny that it took place.

Radio Shalom, a Paris-based Jewish radio station, first reported the incident after it learned about the test from the parents of a student.

Education Minister Francois Bayrou told French radio that he had launched disciplinary proceedings, adding that the teacher, whose name has not been revealed, would be suspended pending action by a disciplinary board.

"There are facts we cannot speak of in a banal way which belong to the memory of humanity and which should be respected as sacred," Bayrou said. "It is intolerable to mention them in this way."

The teacher will have to present an explanation to the disciplinary board and could face either a transfer or a simple reprimand.

Pierre Aidenbaum, president of the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism, asked Bayrou for an "exemplary sanction" against the teacher for offering "this trivialization of the horrible and unbearable to young adolescents to reflect upon."

The league has repeatedly called for a more thorough teaching of the Holocaust in the French school system.