Personal and Political Appropriations of Sparta in German Elite Education during the 19th and 20th Centuries

Presented at the German Historical Institute London Postgraduate Conference 2012, German Historical Institute London, 12 January 2012.

This paper gave an overview of Helen’s doctoral research, which has demonstrated that ancient Sparta was particularly prized as a paradigm for Prusso-German military elite-education during the 19th and 20th centuries. Analysis of two case-studies, the Royal Prussian Cadet-Corps and the Nationalpolitische Erziehungsanstalten (National-Political Education-Institutes), has shown that generations of future German officers and putative Nazi leaders were frequently trained to see a ‘Spartan’ way of life as their ultimate aspiration.

A monograph based on this research project, entitled Sparta’s German Children. The ideal of ancient Sparta in the Royal Prussian Cadet-Corps, 1818-1920, and in National Socialist elite schools (the Napolas), 1933-1945, has now been published by the Classical Press of Wales.