Forming the “auserlesene Volksgemeinschaft”: The Nationalpolitische Erziehungsanstalten and Nazi Educational Practice

Presented at the German History Society Annual Conference, King’s College London, 4 September 2019.

Presented as part of a panel entitled Zwischen Auslese und Ausmerze: National Socialist Education in Discourse and Practice’.

Educational policy during the Third Reich reflected the Nazi regime’s fundamental ideological and social Darwinist assumptions, attempting to form youthful members of the body politic (and those who taught them, the purveyors of a new National Socialist Erziehungsideal) in the image of the Nazi “new man”. After the seizure of power in 1933, educational institutions were swiftly “coordinated”, and those selected to uphold the Third Reich’s newly racialised educational community could enjoy unprecedented powers and prestige.

This panel sets out to explore some less familiar corners of the National Socialist educational landscape at primary, secondary and tertiary level, covering both extremes of the spectrum of biological selection in education, from the negative, eugenic policies applied to supposedly “abnormal” pupils at the Hilfsschulen, to the “positive” biological selection of Nazi elite-school applicants, as well as analysing mechanisms of ideological intervention and indoctrination in the sphere of higher education.

An article based on this research, entitled ‘The Biopolitics of Education in the Third Reich’s “Special Schools” and “Elite Schools”‘ has now been published in The Historical Journal 66 (2), 2023, pp. 413-34.