'Nazi Elite-School Pupils as Youth Ambassadors: Between Fascist Italy and the Third Reich'

European History Quarterly 54 (2), 2024, 258-275 (Special Issue: The Cultural Axis between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany).

Mussolini’s Italy was one of the most frequent destinations for several-week-long extended trips by pupils of the Nationalpolitische Erziehungsanstalten, the Third Reich’s most prominent elite schools.

The aim of these visits was a form of soft “cultural diplomacy”, whereby potentially useful contacts and acquaintances could be fostered, and the youth of each nation could gain an appreciation of the other’s customs and political ideals. These trips became especially important after the outbreak of World War II, when Italy remained one of the relatively few foreign countries which it was possible for pupils to continue visiting, due to the Axis alliance. 

Drawing on a number of contemporary first-hand accounts and reports, the paper will explore the ramifications of this form of youth diplomacy, and the success (or otherwise) of the schools’ Italian “missions”. In so doing, it will engage with recent research on Nazi and Fascist attempts to bring a new cultural order into being, and the importance of exploring transnational fascist entanglements on a social and cultural as well as a political level, whilst also highlighting the (currently under-researched) role of youth.