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Kurt Brown

Dr. Paul Wagner

EDUC 4310

6 November 2018

Silencing Laws of Nazi Germany

Outside of a select group of people who choose to embrace the ideals of the Nazis and

those who willingly choose to ignore the existence of the Holocaust, most people would agree

that the actions taken by those in power in Germany during the Third Reich were objectionably

immoral. Before the regime actively moved those, they considered impure or undesirable into

the death camps that are far more well known the Nazis enacted many laws to take away the

rights and citizenship of those they viewed as inferior. One of the areas where these laws were

most invasive was the German education system. Rules and regulations were put in place to

further the ideals of the Nazis and undermine the contribution of inferior groups to society.

One of the first laws put in place following Adolf Hitler’s rise to power was used to limit

the number of Jewish students allowed in any school. According to the United States Holocaust

Memorial Museum, during 1933 the Nazi party enacted a law restricting enrollment of Jewish

students to no more than 5% of the total population of students in any one school (USHMM).

This applied to all levels from early childhood all the way through university. Over time this

pushed Jewish students out of public schools in favor of private schools where the population

caps did not exist. The Nazis did not just place limits on students in schools, they also made

rules about teachers as well.

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Teachers in Nazi Germany were required to join the Nazi Teachers’ Association if they

were to keep educating students. According to the Wiener Library for the Study of the

Holocaust and Genocide those educators were required to swear an oath of loyalty to Hitler

and the Nazis and teach in accordance to Nazi ideals (Wiener). The BBC states that joining this

group “vetted them for political and racial suitability” (BBC). Jewish teachers were fired as well

as any teacher who refused to support the ideals the party was trying to instill in students.

Once the Nazis had limited students and teachers they moved on to the curriculum.

The Wiener Library indicates that the Nazis introduced a core curriculum so that they

“could monitor, at all times, what was being taught in schools” (Wiener). The BBC discusses

these changes which included teaching the history of the Nazi party, eugenics, race study and

ideology, and more (BBC). The regime put in place an education system designed to destroy

free thought and create obedience to the party. On top of this students were expected to be

physically fit to help prove the superiority of the Aryan race.

With an education system in place that stopped free thinking, the Nazis were doing

what they could to stifle critical thinking and force people to fall into their method of thinking.

This goes against what education can and should be. These students and educators were also

forced into a system of morals which encouraged the mistreatment of others based on

ethnicity or ability. Students were at an impressionable age during this time and these laws

were used to corrupt them and have a detrimental effect on their lives.

If a situation like this were to arise while I am an educator, I see it as my duty act in a

way that subverts the attempts of the power in charge. To prevent this from coming to be I

have to do everything I can to impress on students that free and critical thought is one of the

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most vital things they engage in. If they understand that blindly following the ideals of any

group is wrong, it will help prevent something like what the Nazis were able to do from

happening again. I do not believe I should force my morality on students, but I can be a guide

and lead them in discussions that help them develop their own sense of morals. If other

educators and I do our jobs correctly something as heinous as the Holocaust will never be

repeated and the world will instead be a haven for free and critical thinking.

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Works Cited

“Controlling Everyday Life.” Deportation and Transportation – The Holocaust Explained: Designed

for Schools, www.theholocaustexplained.org/life-in-nazi-occupied-europe/controlling-

everyday-life/controlling-education/.

“GCSE History - Nazi Economic, Social and Racial Policy - WJEC - Revision 5.” BBC News, BBC,

www.bbc.com/bitesize/guides/zw6s7p3/revision/5.

“Law Limits Jews in Public Schools.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, United States

Holocaust Memorial Museum, www.ushmm.org/learn/timeline-of-events/1933-1938/law-

limits-jews-in-public-schools.