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Courtney Isom
3 April 2014
ENGL 1102
Wertz-Orbaugh
Education during the Holocaust
My inquiry started with my interest in what education was like for children of all ages
and ethnicities during the Holocaust. I would really like to learn about this particular topic
because my major is middle grades education and I am really interested to see the impact Hitler
had on the education system and children in Germany and the rest of the world.
The curriculum saw major subject content changes after the Nazi Party took over. The
Nazification process, which was a social process of adopting the Nazi ways, was beginning to
affect school aged children as well. Crucial subjects to help enforce the Nazi way of life were
biology, history, and German language (Brown). As I began to dig into the curriculum of
Germanys schools, I noticed that math and biology had a huge role in Nazification of education.
Biology was a subject used to contrast Jewish children with German children. Derogatory actions
Jewish children had to deal with were pointing out their flaws and how they were so much
different than German children, who were supposed to be the ideal child (Brown). I began to
wonder exactly how teachers would use Jewish children in the classroom in such a manner.
As I began reading about how biology was taught in the classroom, I learned they would
make Jewish children stand up in front of the whole class as the teacher taught and pointed out
how Jewish children looked different, as seen in the picture below:
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(Vashem)
The teacher would do things like measure a Jewish childs head and nose, and some students,
even took race education classes, where they were taught that Jews were a different race and why
they were not the same as them [Germans]. I could not imagine treating my students like living
scientific experiments. I dont think I could do that and I am wondering if other teachers from
this time think the same thing.
I realized that German children were discriminating against Jewish children from the very
beginning because they were not taught anything different. They really had no other choice but
to view Jews as a different race because these ideas were being supported and encouraged not
just in the home, but in the classroom too as I previously found out. I couldnt believe that
teachers didnt do anything to prevent this bullying from happening in their classroom against
Jews. Its that German children and Jewish children were still allowed to be in the same room,
knowing that all this discrimination was happening, not that I think that anything is wrong with
them being in the classroom together. This got me thinking, was there ever a time when Jewish
children and German children were separated? I began looking up laws about Jewish students in
school systems and my inquiry led to find that on April 25, 1933, the German government issues
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the law against overcrowding in schools and universities, which by no surprise, limited the
number of Jewish students that attended public schools (Law Limits Jews in Public Schools.).
Looking a little further into this concept, I found that at first, Jewish and Gypsy children were
restricted from going to school shortly, restrictions were placed on the Jews and later they
were forbidden to go to German schools at all (Florida Center for Instructional Technology). I
am personally not into laws, so I didnt want to look any deeper than this and start looking more
into school subjects again.
Of all things, I found out that sports became a main focus in the school system. Physical
training now had an examination and all the students had to attend PT classes more frequently
per week. According to one source, physical education alone took up 15% of the schools weekly
schedule (Trueman). If a student should fail the examination for any reason, they could be
expelled from school. As a future educator, this angered me, as I believe that students should not
be punished from the whole school because they didnt pass one exam for another class. There
seemed to be a big push for this because the Nazis believed that a strong and healthy intellect
can only be found in a healthy body (Brown). This statement makes me a little bit angry
because children were denied any types of education just because they were thought to be
physically unable to properly learn.
All of this physical training was aimed toward boys and their physical ability. Those boys
that were considered more physically fit and stronger that their peers were moved to special
schools called Adolf Hitler Schools where boys were basically being raised to be the future
leaders of Germany. These schools are where boys were taught six years of tough physical
training until they turned eighteen, where they then moved directly into the army or went to
specific universities to take place in real live war games. I was shocked to see that these war
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games used real ammunition and students were killed, but if you survived long enough to
graduate, you were almost guaranteed a high position in the SS or army. This is crazy how these
boys were now being raised into these positions and to me it seems like they have no other
option. I am starting to see how the sole purpose for childrens education is to grow up blindly
loyal to Hitler and Nazism (Trueman).
Now that I know what happened to the boys in the school systems, as they are being
filtered through the system, I am wondering what happened to the girls and if they were picked
through like their fellow male peers were. According to the Florida Center for Instructional
Technology, just like the boys had Hitler youth groups, the girls were picked out into youth
groups also. They were taught typical roles, such as raising children and working in the home.
They then worked as nurses for those who were injured during the war, and eventually were sent
off to fight for the Reich until death. I am appalled that Germany would send the youngest
generations out to do the dirty work for their country. I can only imagine what the parents would
have done if they knew that their children were being recruited and raised to fight on the
frontlines for their country. It makes me think that it was easy to implant these ideas of honoring
and fighting for their country into these young childrens lives because they didnt know any
different because they were so young and still learning.
I feel like this topic is something that can never come to an end with because of the depth
of information available about children and educational practices in Germany during this time. If
I had more time to inquire about education during the holocaust, I would love to find more
information about children in general during this time. I would want to talk about and learn about
how children escaped this discrimination in Germany through things like the kinder transport and
to inquire about the Lebensborn Project. Also, if I had more time to inquire, I would want to look
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into the teacher's point of view and how the teachers had an effect on the children and how their
ethnicity, religion, and background had an effect on the classroom in general. I am really glad I
picked this topic to inquire about because it was really interesting to me, since I am going into
the education system myself, and it is something I can relate to as I move forward in my career.

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Works Cited
Brown, Paul. "Modern History- Education in Nazi Germany." HSC Online. Charles Sturt
University, n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.
"Education: The Jewish Experience." The Holocaust Explained. London Jewish Cultural Centre,
2011. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.
Florida Center for Instructional Technology. "Children." A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust.
N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.
"Law Limits Jews in Public Schools." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States
Holocaust Memorial Council, n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.
Trueman, Chris. "Nazi Education." History Learning Site. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.
Vashem, Yad. Two Jewish Students Being Humiliated in Front of Their Classmates. N.d. The
Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remeberance Authority, Germany. The Holocaust
Explained. Web. 2 Apr. 2014.