Controlling education was a way of taking over the minds of children from kindergarten to university. Education was a major tool by which the Nazis’ racial policies were promoted and implemented.
Initially, many teachers ignored the political changes. However, very soon, those German teachers who supported the Nazis or had been converted to Nazism began to develop new daily rituals and routines. Many of the 32 per cent of teachers who became Nazi Party members would wear their uniform to school.
All teachers had to swear an oath of allegiance to Hitler and teach in accordance with Nazi ideas and values. All Jewish teachers were dismissed, as were teachers who refused to support the Nazi Party’s ideals.
The atmosphere within the classroom was very different from the one students had known previously. The teacher would enter the classroom and welcome the group with a ‘Hitler salute’, shouting “Heil Hitler!” Students would have to respond in the same manner, often eight times each day – at the start and end of the day, as well as the beginning and end of each lesson.
The Nazi curriculum
Hitler and the Nazis wanted all young Aryans to be physically fit and perfectly obedient. In Nazi Germany no one was allowed to think for themselves. A core curriculum was introduced, so that the Nazis could monitor, at all times, what was being taught in schools. All textbooks were re-written and had to be passed by the Nazi Party. The Nazi national curriculum included PE, German history, geography, biology and maths.