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Leianna Hatcher 1

Education and the Holocaust Since my declared major is Elementary Education, I decided to dig deeper into the education of Jewish children and Nazi children during the Holocaust. I believe that it is explicit knowledge today that Jewish children were banished from public schools and were told they were not allowed to attend and learn like the non-Jewish children did. Jewish children were considered outcasts in society and on top of that, they were basically told that they did not deserve an education at all. Despite these struggles, Jews pulled through, created secret schools of their own, and were able to teach a number of children. It may not have been a significant amount, but it was their strong resistance that gave them the courage to stand up and establish these schools to give Jewish children some kind of normalcy. The process of exiling Jewish children from German schools began on November 15, 1938, only five days after the Kristallnacht (Jewish Ghetto Education and the Holocaust). Can you imagine how shaken their worlds must have been? I do not know what I would have done if schooling was taken away from me. For many children, school is a safe place, a safe haven. For that to be taken away so abruptly and not given back any time soon, it took its toll on the Jewish students. One child was quoted in the article Jewish Ghetto Education and the Holocaust saying, “Marisha, my best friend, invited me to come with her to school. We met in the morning and walked together with a lot of other children… Marisha went through the gate [of the school], and I followed her, as the watchman greeted her. "Where are you going?" he asked me. "To school, to the first grade," I said proudly and continued walking. The watchman blocked my way. "No, not you." "But I am six already–really I am!" "You are a Jew," he said. "Jews have no right to learn. No Jews in our school. Go home!”

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I cannot begin to imagine how she felt being turned away so rudely. Her best friend, Marisha, just watched as she was pushed out the school gate and all she could do was turn away from the school where she did not “belong.” When World War II began, the Germans started to really segregate Jews into ghettos. Schools were completely outlawed in the ghettos, but this did not stop the Jewish population from establishing secret schools, mostly in the Vilda, Lodz, and Warsaw ghettos (Jewish Ghetto Education and the Holocaust). As I continued to read about Lodz, it amazed me how persistent the Jewish people were in establishing schools and spreading education. The Lodz educational system included forty seven schools ranging from kindergarten to high school with a total enrollment of 15,000 students (Jewish Ghetto Education and the Holocaust). When I think of 15,000 students, I think of a small college campus. It really saddened me to find out that 15,000 was not even half the number of children that were able to receive an education. Nazi education was a completely different and disappointing story. The Hitler Youth movement began in the 1920’s, when Adolf Hitler was just the Chancellor of Germany. The movement targeted young Nazi children and lured them in with embellished propaganda ads of fun and games. If you were a part of the Nazi party in Germany as a child, you joined the movement at age ten. There was two separate wings for boys and girls. If you were a boy, the movement prepared you for the military and if you were a girl, it prepared you for motherhood (Hitler Youth Movement). The Hitler Youth Movement had a common goal for both boys and girls; to praise Adolf Hitler and learn and agree with his commands and ideas. The purpose of Nazi schools was to indoctrinate students with the National Socialist worldview (Indoctrinating Youth). Nazi children were taught to hate the Jewish population and support anti-Semitism. I honestly cannot believe

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that these teachers’ minds were so corrupted with Hitler’s hate that they would influence children in the same way. This next statistic shocked me. Most educators kept their jobs and joined the National Socialist Teachers League. Oh, it gets better. Ninety seven percent of all public school teachers had joined the League by 1936. Teachers joined the Nazi Party in greater numbers than any other profession (Indoctrinating Youth). When I read that, my mouth literally hit the floor. I could not believe teachers, who are supposed to be the “light of the world,” were giving in and teaching these children opinions of someone who thought of himself higher than God.

“Youth Serves the Leader: All 10-Year-Olds in the Hitler Youth”

In the Nazi classroom, the Youth were being taught to be race-conscious, obedient, selfsacrificing Germans who were willing to die for their country (Indoctrinating Youth). This partly sounds like a nice, patriotic idea. But, no. “Race-conscious” and “obedience” is for the birds. It was all hate. Children were brainwashed with the thought of Hitler as the ultimate leader and his

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ways were the best ways to live. Devotion to Hitler was the key lesson in all German classrooms during this time. You know, forget about math and English, who needs it? New textbooks were introduced to the students after old books were censored out. These textbooks also encouraged racism, anti-Semitism, and the love of Hitler. In almost every classroom, Adolf Hitler’s portrait would be on the wall for children to look at throughout the day. One thing I thought was completely creepy when I was reading about the new textbooks was that they often described how excited a child was to see Hitler for the first time (Indoctrinating Youth). I’m sorry, but that is weird. Hitler is not God or Santa. There should be no excitement there. The Hitler Youth program did deem itself successful for producing well-trained Nazi boys for the military. But, in 1945 when World War II was finally coming to a close, the Youth had to undergo “de-Nazification” in order to reverse the effects of the harsh Socialist views they encountered through their twelve years of Nazi propaganda. For many, it had altered their minds forever and much could not be reversed. Today in Germany, the effects of the Holocaust still linger. Katha, a German student has said, "The Holocaust has left a trace, so that our generation has to fight against the many prejudices that people around the world have against the Germans (Holocaust Education in Germany Expands)." Germans have a heavy burden that they carry from the Holocaust. Even though today’s generation has nothing to do with the events during that time, they have to deal with the repercussions of it. Germans are taught about World War II and the Holocaust and many suggest visiting a concentration camp to know and experience that it is “not a story, but also,…history and we must learn to handle it (Holocaust Education in Germany Expands).” That

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was a really powerful quote for me because it shows how much of a weight the effects of the Holocaust have been for the Germans since World War II ended. In conclusion of this not-research paper, I have to say that I learned a lot of interesting and jaw-dropping facts. The Holocaust, generally speaking, makes me so grateful for my life, the decade I’m in, where I live, and the freedom I have. It would be awful caged up somewhere with not just your education taken away from you, but everything you have ever known taken away from you. I cannot begin to imagine if I would have made it through those times or not. Luckily, I will never know.

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Works Cited Browne, Erin. "Holocaust Education in Germany Expands." Holocaust Education in Germany Expands. iEARN, n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2013. <>. Glanz, Jefrey. "Holocaust, Jewish Ghetto Education and the." - Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society. The Gale Group, Inc., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2013. <>. Trueman, Chris. "Hitler Youth Movement." Hitler Youth Movement. History Learning Site, n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. <>. "Never Again Starts Here." Indoctrinating Youth. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. <>.