How did educational policy affect German Jews?

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School girls, both Jewish and German, pose in a row on a street in Holzheim, Germany.jpeg

School girls, both Jewish and non-Jewish, pose on a street in Holzheim, Germany, 1932.

Gradual isolation

The process of denying Jews a state education was a gradual one. Jewish children would be sent to the back of the classroom, before their eventual isolation from the school.

Nazi laws did not fully exclude Jews from education; they allowed Jewish teachers to set up separate schools for Jewish students.

The experience of Jewish children attending Jewish schools was also not without its problems. Often members of the Hitler Youth would wait outside at the end of the school day and set about beating Jewish children.

Discrimination and isolation

During April 1933, Jewish teachers were dismissed from German schools and universities. During the same year the proportion of Jewish students at universities was decreased to less than 1 per cent, to correspond to the proportion of Jews in Germany. However, although in some areas many Jewish children were removed from schools, it was not until 15 November 1938 that all Jewish children were finally banned from attending German schools.

Discrimination in schools and isolation within education, as in all other areas of society, was gradual.

Education was a major tool by which the Nazis’ racial policies were promoted and implemented.

Once teachers began to show their support for the Nazi Party in schools, the atmosphere within the classroom became very different from the one that students had known previously. The teacher would enter the classroom and welcome the group with a ‘Hitler salute’, shouting “Heil Hitler!” Students would have to respond in the same manner, often eight times each day – at the start and end of the day, in addition to the beginning and end of each lesson.

Verbal abuse

It became common for Jewish children to be subjected to verbal and physical abuse by fellow students and teachers. Textbooks were rewritten in line with Nazi ideology, leading to Jews becoming the subject of increased antisemitism. Teachers would pick out Jewish students in classrooms to depict the non-Aryan. Across the syllabus Jews would be ridiculed and branded as traitors in front of their classmates.