The Ambassador in Germany (Dodd) to the Secretary of State

No. 2106

Sir: I have the honor to report that a new attempt is being made through various devices to align students and school children in the aims of National Socialism.

It is of course common knowledge that many of the students’ corporations in the universities have never been completely assimilated with National Socialism. Through background, tradition and membership they are of a distinctly more conservative cast of mind, and moreover [Page 377] have possessed certain privileges that they are loath to surrender to the National Socialist general leveling procedure.* Their emphasis upon class differentiation being out of keeping with the National Socialist ideal of Volksgemeinschaft, the possibility was eyen once considered of dissolving the corporations but the plan failed of adoption owing to opposition from the Alte Herren, former members serving as trustees, who keep in close touch with each other and many of whom are men of great importance in the Reich. A second plan for decreasing the influence of the corporations was discussed about a year ago, in accordance with which students during their first two semesters at a university would have been required to live in “comradeship houses” (Kamaradschaftshäuser) of the rival Nazi student organization, the National-Socialistischer Studentenbund. This scheme was likewise abandoned, however, because of opposition from the same quarters and also, it is said, through the intervention of State Secretary Lammers in the Reich Chancellery, who is supposed to be one of the corporations’ firmest supporters.

A renewal of pressure on the corporations was foreshadowed in the radio address given last week by the head of the National Socialist Student League, Derichsweiler, who bitterly attacked reactionary elements among the youth, and stated that further steps would have to be taken to win over students entirely to the National Socialist cause. Shortly thereafter a working basis of cooperation was offered to the corporations in accordance with which it was declared that each corporation which is prepared to further the politico-philosophical education of its members, may, until July 10, notify to the local leader of the National Socialist Student League the names of three of its members who would seem especially adapted for schooling in National Socialist ideas. These three corporation members will be given a three weeks’ training course this summer in camps of the Nazi Student League, and if found qualified by the camp leaders, shall automatically be declared eligible for membership in the League.

In order that the schooling in National Socialist doctrine may be continued and be spread during term-time, the local leader of the Student League will appoint, in consultation with the head of the corporation concerned, one of the three qualified members to serve as school leader (Schulleiter), whose duty it will be to remain in close [Page 378] contact with the Student League or the local Party office. It is significantly stated that all influence in politico-philosophical matters that might be extended from the side of the Alte Herren must remain without force. It is also laid down that an indispensable condition of cooperation is that members of the corporations must be able to trace Aryan descent back to January 1, 1800.

The plan of cooperation which in political outlook subjects the corporations to the National Socialist Student League is nominally voluntary. It is learned, however, that several of the corporations who are considering having nothing to do with the scheme are nevertheless fearful that rejection might in the end lead to charges of disloyalty and lack of patriotism to which refusals of offers of this character are frequently open. The stipulation regarding Aryan descent would seem to be an attempt to revive an issue brought about by the earlier refusal of several corporations to expel Jewish members.

In the primary school field the latest development of interest is a provision for the actual intervention of the Hitler Youth organization in school affairs. So far this has been done only in Prussia, and has been accomplished through a decree issued at the end of May by the Prussian Ministry of the Interior, creating school communities (Schulgemeinde) consisting in general of the teachers, parents, and the local leaders of the Hitler Youth. Each community is to have an advisory council of “youth trustees” composed of the principal of the school, two to five parents according to the size of the school, and an adult youth leader. The principal of the school may appoint from the parents “solely such persons as conform to the requirements in respect of character and political views demanded of an educator in the National Socialist State,” and may make the selection only after first consulting with the local Party representative.

Another victory for Baldur von Schirach, leader of the Hitler Youth, and one of the Party radicals whose influence seems to be relatively strong at the present moment, is an agreement concluded by him with the Reich head of the German Studentenschaft (which is representative of the general student body of the German universities), providing that students intending to become teachers shall be invited to enter into contact with the youth leaders in the locality of the university they attend. With a view to acquainting themselves with the work and aims of the Hitler Youth, they will be given the opportunity of attending lectures arranged by the local leader, and of passing certain periods in the Hitler Youth camps.

The Deutsche Nachrichten Büro states that von Schirach paid a call on Gauleiter Bohle in the newly established Berlin office of the Foreign Organization of the Party, and that the meeting ended in a complete understanding concerning the training of the children of Germans abroad maintaining contact with the Foreign Organization [Page 379] (See Embassy’s despatch No. 1905 of April 5, 193530). The report states that von Schirach wrote as follows in the Foreign Organization’s Guest Book: “Hitler Youth and Foreign Organization have a common zeal: training in National Socialism. Foreign Organization people, we fight by your side.”

One of the schemes favored by the well-known organization, the Academic Exchange Service, as a means of promoting international understanding, is the exchange of letters between pupils in German lower schools and pupils in similar schools abroad. The practice usually followed has been that of a letter written with the aid of the teacher by a given class on some subject of general interest without any reference whatsoever to political events or personages in Germany. It is learned that just recently an order has been circulated by the Ministry of Education to school teachers in Prussia that no more such letters may be written unless the text has first been approved by the local leader of the Hitler Youth.

That the National Socialists should base their hopes of the future on a conquest of the German youth is only natural and nothing startlingly new. It is believed, however, that of distinct interest at this time is the manner in which this end is being sought, particularly with a view to overcoming such opposition as may still exist among the students themselves, as in the case of the corporations, and among parents. In this latter connection, the Prussian school community system described above seems to be important not only as a means of giving the Hitler Youth a say in education matters, but as a means also of regimenting the parents to an almost comparable degree as the youth itself.

Respectfully yours,

William E. Dodd
  1. For a long time, for instance, three corps, the Saxoborussia of Heidelberg, the Borussia of Bonn (patronized by the Hohenzollerns) and the Hannovera of Göttingen (of which Bismarck was a member), held a preponderant representation among the successful candidates for the German diplomatic service and higher government posts. As the Department may be aware, the corporations are built up in general according to the following categories listed in the order of their prestige: the Corps (sons of nobles and officers), the Landsmannschaft (sons of estate owners of less social importance), the Burschenschaft (sons of officials and professional men), the Sängerschaften and Turnierschaften (sons of men with an academic background but of less standing). [Footnote in the original.]
  2. Not printed.