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

No. 2327

Sir: In continuation of the Embassy’s despatch No. 2106 of July 1, 1935, respecting efforts completely to convert the schools to National Socialism, I have the honor to report that this process has been carried a step further in a decree promulgated by Reich Minister of Education Rust on September 19, ordering that, beginning [Page 384] with the forthcoming winter semester which starts in the middle of October, Saturday is to be set aside as “State Youth Day” (Staatsjugendtag) in all the elementary, intermediate and higher schools, and will be given over entirely to “national-political instruction.” It is understood that the higher schools in the sense of the decree will include the State Gymnasien.

On what precise lines this special training will be carried out has not yet been announced, but it will probably consist of lectures in the usual official philosophy (Weltanschauung) accompanied by exercises in the open and drills when weather permits. Essentially the idea is not novel, as a scheme of this sort was decreed for the elementary schools in the summer of last year (see Embassy’s despatch No. 932 of June 18, 193436) whereby pupils belonging to the Hitler Young People and the Hitler Youth organizations, as well as to the League of German Girls, were given Saturday off to attend the exercises of these bodies, while the remaining students were subjected to courses in National Socialist doctrine. Its extension to the higher schools is, however, significant of the determination to assimilate all classes of youth to National Socialism even at the possible risk that their formal education will suffer.

The ingenious but rather complicated rearrangement of school work proposed by Dr. Rust in his decree conceals rather than repairs the deficiency that is likely to result in this respect. Rather than make up the lost work through additional school hours, an arrangement which, it is intimated, might overburden the child, Dr. Rust has devised a “sliding six-day week,” whereby the curricular work missed on Saturday would be continually carried over to the following school-day. As a result therefore, the first Saturday’s work would be taken up Monday, the following Saturday’s work on Tuesday, and so forth, the cycle repeating itself until the termination of the regular school year, which would end with the accumulatively postponed work unaccomplished. Apart from this drawback in loss of work time, the new readjustment in hours, according to one teacher concerned, is likely to result in untold confusion during the first year.

Official commentaries furnished the press calculate that the school year, instead of being 40 weeks as heretofore, will in effect be 33 weeks, the remaining seven consisting of the Saturdays set aside for National Socialist training. To count this time as “lost” would be basically false, states the Völkischer Beobachter of September 19, inasmuch as the seven weeks of National Socialist instruction will build the German boy and German girl much stronger in every respect than seven weeks of regular school labor. “The success of this community training, together with its contribution to the public health and the bodily [Page 385] upbuilding of future generations, will justify this decisive step in the educational history of the German man,” it is declared. The same paper exults in the prospect that all German school children will be embraced in this training, and hopes that it may soon be extended to the entire youth, including those in the universities and in professions. It admits that Certain modifications in the usual method will have to be made in the political schooling now to be given for the first time to pupils in the lowest grades who are too young to belong to the Hitler Young People, implying evidently that these children would hardly be capable as yet of understanding such subjects as race policy. With respect to the scheme generally, it may be remarked that it is quite in keeping with National Socialist educational doctrine, which has as its thesis that physical formation is just as important as intellectual development; the passages from Hitler’s Mein Kampf, from which this principle is derived, are reprinted as a preface to every teacher’s class-book.

Almost simultaneously with the decree concerning the State Youth Day comes an announcement by the Minister of Education of the maximum figures of enrollment for the coming winter semester in the principal municipal universities and technical schools. These limits, which it is within his competence to fix by law, are as follows:

Universities: Berlin 6,900; Cologne 2,600; Hamburg 2,100; Frankfort 1,700; Leipzig 3,300; Munich 5,400; Münster 2,900.
Technical High Schools: Berlin 2,000; Dresden 1,600; Munich 2,100.
Commercial High Schools: Berlin 500; Leipzig 350.

The number of new matriculations for the coming term will be determined within the framework of the above maximum figures. Preferences will be given the applicants in accordance with the following considerations:

“Old fighters of the Party up to and including Party member No. 1,000,000”;
Persons attached to the defense forces who, with the consent of their superiors, are to take up a subject of study for later use in the service;
Students who have spent two or more semesters at the Universities of Königsberg or Breslau, at the Commercial High School at Breslau, or at the Technical High Schools of Breslau or Danzig.

It is pointed out that this is the first time that an order of preference has been drawn up for applicants. The favor shown students from Köenigsberg, Breslau and Danzig is intended to stimulate the development of these Eastern institutions, it is explained.

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The maximum figures are higher than those for the summer semester but considerably lower than for the last winter semester when, for instance, there were 14,388 students registered at the University of Berlin. It is declared that the purpose of the restrictory measures is not so much to limit the total number of students as to prevent an exodus from the provincial institutions to those of the big cities. On the other hand, a general decrease in the number of students is expected owing to the demands made by compulsory labor and military service, and owing also to the fact that many persons who continued their studies because they could not find situations of employment, now find it easier, so it is claimed, to obtain jobs under the National Socialist regime. As has been the case heretofore, the above-mentioned restrictions do not apply to the number of foreigners that may attend any of the institutions mentioned.

No major developments have taken place with regard to the question of the student corporations since the resignation of State Secretary Lammers from the post in which he was able to act as their chief protector (see Embassy’s despatch No. 2301 of September 11, 193537). Emboldened evidently by this tactical retreat, Herr Derichsweiler of the rival National Socialist Student League announced at Nuremberg that students newly entering the university must immediately declare their choice of either joining the National Socialist body or of becoming members of a corporation. It will be recalled that he has already forbidden his followers to belong to “non-cooperative” corporations (see despatch No. 2143 of July 16, 1935), and this new declaration is evidently intended to make clear his rule “that he who is not with me is against me,” and to cause new students to reflect upon the possible disadvantages of not aligning themselves with National Socialism.

This despatch on educational tendencies would hardly be complete without reference to the sensation caused by the “Thüringer Home for Girls (Mädchenheim) of Bad Kosteritz.” This institution, in a “message of greeting” to a certain Protestant Church publication, declared: “The God of whom we read (in the Old Testament), namely, Jehovah, the God of the people of Israel—that is the true God, who reveals himself to these people and through this revelation makes himself known to other peoples and other races.” The Völkischer Beohachter of September 19 answers this declaration with the following expression of pained surprise: “The chief task of National Socialrism has always been to reveal the Jews as perpetual disturbers of the peace, as agitators, and as poison in the people’s blood. The entire German people has listened to this warning and now reflects upon the strength of its own blood. The laws of Nuremberg, which punish [Page 387] with severe penalties all intercourse between Germans and Jews, were adopted with indescribable jubilation. The German people has at last found itself and will enforce a clear-cut separation between Germans and Jews, bodily as well as spiritually! And yet an Evangelical paper dares to subscribe to the greeting of German maidens to Jehovah! Unfortunately the Jews have succeeded in causing all peoples and races to pay homage to their God, but we have at last had enough of this Revelation. This must also be abundantly clear to the heads of the Kösteritz Mädchenheim themselves.”

Respectfully yours,

William E. Dodd