Nazi Germany - Education and youth
Key question: what did Nazi education want to achieve?
Base answer: to ensure that all students followed exactly, Nazi ideas
Main idea: Nazification and indoctrination.
In 1933 Hitler said:
“When an opponent declares, ‘I will not come over to your side’, I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to us already … What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.’”
This means: “whatever my opponents think, it’s too late. Children, the next generation, are already Nazis.”
The intention was to make sure that the New Order (the Third Reich) would exist for the whole future. The Nazis achieved this in two main ways: changing the school system and changing the social organisation of young people.
Question: how did the Nazis change things to achieve their aims?
Base answer: through changing the ways in which subjects were taught.
Main idea: Nazification
In 1934 the Reich Ministry of Education was created, and power over the school system was removed from local people and local government.
How did things change under the Nazis?
First, the teaching profession was ‘reconditioned’. Politically unreliable individuals were removed and Jewish teachers were banned, and women were encouraged to return home. Re-education courses were given to those who did not agree. The National Socialist Teachers’ League (NSLB, Nationalsozialistische Lehrerbund) was established and its influence and interference continued to grow. By 1937, it included 97 per cent of all teachers and two-thirds of the profession had been on special month-long courses on Nazi ideology and the changes to the curriculum.
Secondly, the curricula and syllabuses were adapted to fit the Nazi Aryan ideal, much greater emphasis was placed on physical education. Fifteen per cent of school time was given over to it, and games teachers assumed an increased status and importance in the school hierarchy.
On the academic front, Religious Studies was dropped to downgrade the importance of Christianity, whereas German, Biology and History became the focus of special attention.
One final innovation was the creation of various types of élite schools. They were intended to prepare the best of Germany’s youth for future political leadership, were modelled on the principles of the Hitler Youth, and focused on physical training, paramilitary activities and political education.
• German language and literature were studied to create ‘a consciousness of being German’, and to inculcate a martial and nationalistic spirit.
• Biology became the means by which to deliver Nazi racial theory: ethnic classification, population policy and racial genetics were all integrated into the syllabus.
• History was also given a special place in the Nazi curriculum, so that the glories of German nationalism could be emphasised.
School assemblies were very much 'Nazified'.
PE Lessons (here for upper secondary) were based around strength, endurance and stamina.