This, the third of a series of articles by Miss Thompson under the general title, "Hitler, the Menace", treats of the attempt to co-ordinate the schools and universities with the intolerant spirit of National Socialism.
On the thirty-first of March, the day before the boycott of the Jews, all of the Jewish children in the public schools of Frankfurt, and thousands of Jewish children in other schools throughout the Reich, were picked out of their classes and sent home for an indefinite period. The Easter vacation followed immediately, and was extended until the first of May to permit the schools, like everything else in Germany, to be "brought into conformity" with the national revolution. As I write these line it is not yet clear what provisions will be made for small Jewish children in the schools of the Third Empire. It is quite clear that there will be ruthless restriction of Jews from the high schools and universities, but presumably even Jewish children will be allowed to learn their A.B.Cs. The suggestion has been put forward in National Socialist circles that Jewish children be confined to certain schools only, and it is argued that in this case Jewish families will tend to settle only in certain communities around certain schools and thus a sort of modern ghetto will be established in fact, without the state undertaking to do so, formally.
With that little gesture on the thirty-first of March, the Third Empire made its first coup against the children, who, in the estimation of this writer, are going to be the most pitiable victims of the National revival.
There is an instinct amongst all parents, everywhere, to "keep things from the children"—that is to say, unpleasant things. Jewish parents who sent their children to school on the thirty-first of March were doubtless depressed, because the boycott as revenge for atrocity stories had already been announced, and it was already clear that tragedy faced most of the German-Jewish population. But the parents sent their children to school without misgivings.
What happened has been described to me by some parents, and by some children. When the classes were in their seats, the teacher came forward and asked the Jewish children to stand. Invariably they were a very small minority in the class. My little friend Hedwig told me that in her class of 46 children there were only three Jewish children.
"They didn’t stand up right away," said Hedwig, "because they didn’t know what the teacher was talking about. That isn’t the way the day starts. So teacher called them out by name. In my class there were two boys and one girl."
"When they stood up, all the children in the class stared at them. Some children giggled. Then the teacher said that there was an order that children of Jewish parents would have to go home.
JEWISH GIRL BEGINS TO CRY
"The girl in our class who is Jewish," said Hedwig, "is awfully smart. She’s one of the best students. The teacher likes her, too. She wasn’t afraid, and asked the teacher why they had to go home. Teacher said that it was just an order, and that they would probably all come back after the Easter vacation.
"But some of the children in the class laughed and one boy raised his hand and said that he knew why the Jewish children had to go home; it was because the Jews spread lies about Germany. And then one of the Jewish boys, his name was Bernard, said that he never did anything of the kind, and the Jewish girl in our class began to cry. And then the teacher told them to pack up their books, and they did, and they all went out of the room together. Our teacher, I think, did not like to tell them to go home. I think she felt awfully bad."
VICTIMS OF CO-ORDINATION
Let us record among the victims of this National Socialist revolution described by its leaders as "extraordinarily disciplined, bloodless, and orderly," the thousands of Jewish children, aged from seven to twelve, who for the first time in their lives were thus publicly humiliated. Let us record the children who cried themselves to sleep, and who stormed at their parents, "Why, oh, why are we Jews?"
"My family," said a Jewish mother to me, "has been in Germany since the sixteenth century. We have always been assimilationists. I was brought up amongst Gentile children; actually there has been much intermarriage in our family; we have much German blood. I have two children, a girl of sixteen and a boy of twelve. My husband is an attorney. Since he destroyed half a dozen French tanks in the war, he will be re-admitted to the bar. But I do not see how we can remain in Germany because of the children. The girl is not so difficult. I was thinking of sending her to England, anyway, to learn English in a boarding school and now, I shall certainly do it. But the boy is too young for that. Since the boycott, I can do nothing with him. He alternates between fits of childish weeping and aggressiveness in which he threatens to go out and punch the noses of several former companions, who now jeer at him because he is a Jew. I do not Socialists into supreme power, the reactionary tendency in German education was already asserting itself. It became evident when whipping was reintroduced in the schools.
The theory that children cannot be trained without corporal punishment was retained in Germany long after it had been abolished throughout know what to tell him. Normally, I would let him punch people who insult him, but under present circumstances, I am scared. My family has never known a ghetto, but I think I am begining to feel like a ghetto Jew."
SOLDIERS ‘DELIVER’ CHILDREN
In parts of Silesia, school children of nine and ten years were taken out of their classes by uniformed Storm Troopers and delivered to their families. Jewish children were told that they should send Gentile children or adults to school to get their report cards, and that they must not fetch them themselves.
But it is difficult to know whether to be more sorry for the Jewish or the German children under the new school regime. National Socialists say that the aim of the "new education will be to create a modern Sparta. Beginning with the fostering in little ones of race arrogance, nothing will be left undone which will create "Wehrgeist"—the military sprit. The introduction of the "leader principle" means in plain English the re-introduction of the servilebully spirit; each child is to obey an appointed leader "blindly" (blind obedience is repeatedly exhorted from his Storm Troops by the Leader, Hitler) but is to be compensated by being allowed to boss smaller children.
The whole of modern education, which is based on precisely opposite principles, on the attempt to create a cooperative spirit among children, and to create an individual who finds his inner freedom in considerate community with his fellows, is destroyed at a blow. Before the March elections put the National most of the civilized world. The findings of modern psychology, whether of the schools of Freud, Adler, or Jung, are all ignored by contemporary German education, as being emanations of sick Jewish minds.
It must repeatedly be stressed that the National Socialist Revolution is consciously anti-humane. Humanitarianism is relegated to the scrap heap along with "liberalism" and "democracy". Just what they are going to do with the Christian religion, with humanitarianism abolished, is not yet clear. There is a great attempt being made by Nazi forces in the Protestant church to bring Christianity into line, along with everything else, and to create a new "aggressive" Christianity. So far, however, this attempt has shipwrecked on the opposition of Germany’s more eminent theologians, who cannot be brought to believe that a crisis in the Christian church necessarily occurred at the exact moment that Mr. Hitler was elected Chancellor.
Individual Christians, however, have been "gleichgeschaltet", brought into line. Thus, the schools have been purged of those destructive sprits who believe that children should be educated on the principle of the new and sole commandment of the Gospels "that ye love one another."
BLOW TO SCHOOL REFORM
The policy of clearing out of the schools Jewish teachers and all teachers who are even paper members of the left parties, has, of course, been a blow to modern education, because the more modern and