- Исторический интернет- проект о Третьем Рейхе и национал-социализме в Германии в 1933-1945 годах.
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24.02.2020 г.

Школьная система

(Перевод статьи осуществляется в данное время) I'm going to talk about the German school system in the Third Reich this time. The first school was elementary school which was called Volksschule, or peoples' school, back then and everyone had to attend it for four years. You started there when you reached age seven. The classes were separated - either just boys or just girls. For students who couldn't or didn't want to go to another school after elementary school it lasted eight years instead of four. You didn't get a special diploma after your eight years and went on to job training or work as an untrained helper. After fourth grade you could take an entrance exam to change either to the middle / secondary school, which lasted six years and ended with a final exam, or to a so-called "school for higher daughters" for which you had to pay tuition. Boys either went to a high school (grammar school) or a so-called Gymnasium, a comprehensive secondary school, for eight years. A lot of boys, including my husband, finished with their wartime Notabitur, a special diploma given to boys in their last year of school who volunteered to leave school early and join the armed forces. My husband was in the service from 1939 until the end of the war. He spent the last years at the front in the East where he was wounded in early 1945 and sent home on convalescent leave. He was then captured just before the end of the war and spent three years as a prisoner in France. When he returned home in 1948, the university didn't recognize the diploma as valid, so at age 25 he had to return to school for half a year to get his high school diploma in other to attend university. With this little side-note to my story you can also see how things went for a lot of returnees after the war. I went to school during the war years, and because of this we had an average of forty to forty-five students in each class because we were very short on teachers. Because I lived in the East where we didn't see as many air raids during the early years of the war we often had children from the Rhine or Ruhr areas in our classes who'd been sent out here to keep them safe. They were mostly staying with host families or relatives. From 1944 on our region was affected by air raids as well and we had an alert nearly every night. That means, when the sirens went off, we - often ripped from a deep sleep - had to run to the shelter, which was usually the cellar in each house. But if a house was hit directly, even those shelters weren't safe and everyone was killed! If the alert went later than midnight we were allowed to come to school an hour later than normal in the morning, but if the "all clear" was sounded prior to midnight, we had to be on time. You can imagine how tired we often were at school! I finished school with Mittlere Reife (secondary school diploma) in spring and then joined the Eastern Action in early summer of 1944 and then the Labor Service. The classrooms looked pretty much as they are shown in old movies - very simple, one bench next to the other. A lot of the time the school benches were much too small for the older students. Each classroom had a photo of Hitler on the wall and also a large map on which we marked the front each week with pins. We only had to wear our BDM uniforms during special holidays - for example, Hitler's birthday, November 9th, and so on. Other than that everyone wore their own civilian clothing. Because the food situation became worse during the end of the war, schools passed out vitamin tablets. Each student was given one tablet a day which was a lozenge that you put on your tongue and let melt. I don't know whether the pills made any difference, but passing them out was always a welcome change in our school routine. In middle school we had a very extensive curriculum and I think that we had a much better general education than most high school students nowadays. In my first year of middle school we started with English as our first foreign language, and from the third year on we got a second foreign language class. Because the Fuehrer had just signed a friendship agreement with the Duce, Italian's leader, we got Italian instead of French until graduation. But that wasn't the case at all schools, most of them were taught French as their second language. And boys' secondary schools also taught Latin. Out curriculum in middle school included math, algebra, geometry, music, foreign languages, German, literature, history, art (painting), a lot of sports, and during the last two years also typing, stenography, bookkeeping, needlework, cooking, and a little bit of botany. I still ask myself today how we managed to cram in all of those classes but we learned a lot and generally knew at least a little about most subject. We could then build on this basic knowledge, depending on what we were interested in and suited for. I always notice that I know a lot more than graduates now whose general knowledge leaves something to be desired because they are getting a much too one-sided education. Of course we were also influenced politically but we didn't notice it negatively, it was just part of the curriculum. We had to purchase our own textbooks, but children from poor families got them for free. It was common for us to purchase used books from older students. Teachers did not favor members of the League of German Girls or the male Hitler Youth over their other students because at that point, membership was compulsory and everyone was a member, so everyone had a uniform to wear during holidays and special events. When I think back now, I remember teachers who didn't agree with the regime, but they did not voice their opinions or they would have been relieved of their positions. Today, of course, I know that those who had other ideas were sometimes taken to concentration camps or other "reformatories". But we also had teachers who were true Nazis, and very dangerous people. When we met one of our teachers at school, in the school yard, or on the street, we had to greet them with the Hitler salute. Every lesson also started with the Hitler salute as soon as the teacher entered the room, during which we all had to stand up.