Active Agents or Passive Witnesses? Napola-pupils' encounters with Jewish persecution and the Holocaust

Presented at the Modern German History Workshop, University of Cambridge, 17 November 2014.

This paper aims to give an overview of some of the ways in which pupils at the Nationalpolitische Erziehungsanstalten have engaged with the Holocaust – both during their childhood in the Third Reich, and as adults. The article begins by exploring two case-studies which illuminate some of the ways in which anti-Semitic attitudes were fostered at the schools before World War II, before moving on to examine former pupils’ recollections of some of the close encounters which took place between pupils and concentration-camp prisoners towards the end of the war.

Some initial findings of this research have already been published in German in a piece entitled ‘Antisemitismus und Eliteerziehung in den Nationalpolitischen Erziehungsanstalten’, Stiftung niedersächsische Gedenkstätten – Jahresbericht: Schwerpunktthema – Kindheit im Nationalsozialismus (2017), pp. 12-17.

A full-length article based on this lecture, entitled ‘”Der Versuch einer Antwort, warum ich von Auschwitz nichts wußte”: The evolution of Napola-pupils’ responses to the Holocaust’, is forthcoming in a volume entitled Früher/später: Zeugnisse in der Zeit, ed. A.S. Sarhangi, A. Bothe.