A U.S. history teacher has revealed that his Gen Z students don’t know who Adolph Hitler was after the middle-schoolers confused Helen Keller for the Nazi leader in a shocking viral video.
TikTok user @samuelsleeves shared footage of his students answering questions about significant historical figures and events — and their horrifying answers have viewers worried about the future of America.
‘As a history teacher, I’m concerned,’ he captioned the clip, which was viewed more than six million times on the platform before he deleted it.
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Stunned: TikTok user @samuelsleeves shared footage of his students answering questions about significant historical figures and events in a now-deleted video
Blown away: In the shocking clip, the students incorrectly called Helen Keller a ‘Nazi guy’ and asked: ‘Who’s Hitler?’
The video began with the teacher curiously asking one of his students who she thought Helen Keller was.
‘Helen Keller is the Nazi guy,’ the middle-schooler said, adding: ‘He’s like a terrorist.’
The baffled teacher assumed the student was thinking of Hitler, but it turned out they didn’t know who he was either.
‘Helen Keller is a Nazi terrorist that is a male. Is that what you’re telling me right now? Are you thinking of Hitler?’ the teacher asked.
‘Who’s Hitler?’ another student interjected.
The teacher’s eyes practically popped out of his head as he incredulously repeated the question.
Say what? The only student who knew Keller (pictured) was a deaf and blind activist thought she was ‘fake because of a conspiracy theory on TikTok
Mystery: It’s unclear if the teacher explained to the students that Adolph Hitler used his power as the dictator of Germany to orchestrate the death of six million Jews during World War II
Before he could explain that Hitler used his power as the dictator of Germany to orchestrate the death of six million Jews during World War II, another student jumped in to incorrectly claim that Keller was ‘fake.
‘Helen Keller was the blind and deaf person who was fake — she didn’t exist but everyone believes she was deaf and blind,’ the person said confidently.
The educator went on to ask about Pearl Harbor, and someone thought it was a bridge. Another guessed that D-Day — the date Allied forces invaded northern France during World War II — was a ‘rapper.’
‘Are you being serious?’ the teacher asked at the end of the video.
The teacher had turned off the comments on the TikTok clip before deleting it, but that didn’t stop the outrage from carrying over on Twitter.
‘So this is terrifying. History teacher discussing major events with Gen Z students,’ one person wrote, while another added: ‘This doesn’t bode well guys.’
Unbelievable: One student guessed that D-Day — the date Allied forces invaded northern France during World War II — was a ‘rapper’
Hard to handle: When the teacher asked them about Pearl Harbor, someone thought it was a bridge
One woman suggested that the middle-schoolers’ lack of historical knowledge is an indicator of how right-wing conspiracy theorists get elected to Congress.
‘If you want to know how Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene got elected, this video where HS students claim Helen Keller didn’t exist—OR WAS HITLER—never heard of D Day or Pearl Harbor and are generally completely ignorant of American history gives you a scary indicator,’ she wrote.
Others pointed out that the Gen Z belief that Keller was ‘fake’ had originated on TikTok, where teens have been insisting that the author and activist — who was blind and deaf and lived from 1880 to 1968 — ‘didn’t exist’ or was at the very least a ‘fraud.’
The troubling knowledge that so many young people doubt Keller’s existence and accomplishments has reached the ears of adults, who are horrified by the trend.
According to Newsweek, the first evidence of the conspiracy theory on TikTok was a now-deleted video by user @alleyesonharshita, who used the hashtag #helenkellerwasntreal and racked up over 600,000 views.
Posted in May 2020, the video questioned what Keller accomplished, saying: ‘It’s time for the lies to end.’
Incredulous: Adults on Twitter were outraged by the students’ lack of knowledge about important historical figures and events
It’s not the only one. That same month, Medium published an essay titled ‘The Generation that Doesn’t Believe Helen Keller Existed,’ which cited similar content using the hashtag #HelenKellerisoverparty.
The writer said that Keller has become an ‘urban legend,’ writing: ‘Generation Z literally does not believe Helen Keller existed. And frankly, I’m having a hard time accepting that she did myself.’
Meanwhile, TikTok user @krunk19 has earned two million views for his own video casting aspersions on Keller.
‘We’ve gotta talk about this whole Helen Keller thing, ’cause I’ve had enough,’ he says. ‘I’ve heard it my whole life. She’s deaf, she’s blind, she’s amazing. No, guess what — she lied.
‘She’s a liar. Her and that monster Anne Sullivan pulled the wool over our eyes, and nobody’s thought to question it.’
While @krunk19 says in his bio that his account is ‘purely satire,’ the viral success of the video has helped spread the conspiracy theory across the younger generation.
Outlandish: One of the most bizarre conspiracy theories to come out of TikTok is that Keller never existed. Teens have been insisting that she ‘didn’t exist’ or was at the very least a ‘fraud’
Naysayer: Several TikTok videos have furthered the claim that Keller was a fraud, including one by @krunk19
Misinformation: Though @krunk19 labels his page as a satire account, he hits on several points that teens are using to argue that Keller was a fraud
Keller, whose existence and accomplishments are well documented, was born healthy in Alabama in 1880, but lost her sight and hearing at 19 months old after an illness, likely scarlet fever.
In the years after, she came up with her own hand signals to communicate with her parents, but would grow frustrated and sometimes threw tantrums.
At age six, she started working with Anne Sullivan, a then-20-year-old teacher from the Perkins Institution for the Blind in Boston. Sullivan taught Keller how to spell out words on her palm to better communicate, as well as how to read by feeling raised words in cardboard before turning to Braille.
Later, she learned to speak from Sarah Fuller of the Horace Mann School for the Deaf, as well as how to lip-read with her fingers on the other person’s mouth.
As a young woman, she graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College.
She accomplished quite a lot as an adult, writing articles and books including ‘The Story of My Life’ and ‘Helen Keller’s Journal.’
She was also a disabilities advocate and an activist who helped co-found the ACLU. She was a member of the Socialist Party and the Industrial Workers of the World, and in 1964, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Johnson.
She died in Connecticut in 1968.