Helen’s article entitled ‘Classics and Education in the Third Reich: “Die Alten Sprachen” and the Nazification of Latin- and Greek-teaching in secondary schools’ has recently been praised in a review of Brill’s Companion to the Classics, Fascist Italy, and Nazi Germany (2018), published in The Classical Journal.
The reviewer, Susan A. Curry, writes:
‘Roche discusses Classics-teaching under National Socialism using the evidence of Die Alten Sprachen, a teaching periodical published by the National Socialist Teachers’ League. Roche’s essay may provoke and disturb – to the good – current educators in the field. The questions some Classics teachers were asking themselves under National Socialism about whether or not to continue teaching Classics under the new regime, and, if so, how, and whether or not to submit “inoffensive” articles to Die Alten Sprachen to keep the humanities alive despite the periodical’s National Socialist affiliation, while others were wondering how to promote the National Socialist ideology through new readings of ancient authors, all hit rather close to home. We are asking many of these same questions of our field now as we fight for its survival.
Roche concludes with a section entitled, “Ideology in Practice: How to Read the Anabasis in the Third Reich,” which provides a concrete example of how Classics teachers in support of National Socialism advised their colleagues to focus on certain passages and emphasize particular events in Xenophon’s Anabasis, drawing parallels with recent German events and presenting Xenophon positively, as a “‘Führer-personality’; an avatar of Hitler” in order to “highlight the contemporary relevance of Xenophon’s work” (254). Yikes. How often have many of us labored to find passages and themes in ancient texts more likely to “highlight the contemporary relevance” of an author’s work, not intentionally to serve a particular ideology, but to demonstrate to our students that an ancient work really does have something to say about the way we live now? Every teacher of Classics should read Roche’s article. Posthaste.’