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How the Nazis modeled their schools


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Nazis based their elite schools on top British private schools


Eton and Harrow among those whose ‘character-building’ qualities were admired by German educators in 1930s and 1940s.


Nazi Germany’s elite schools, which were set up to train future leaders of the Third Reich, used British private schools such as Eton and Harrow as their models, a new book reveals.


The historian Helen Roche has written the first comprehensive history of Nazi elite schools, known as Napolas. Drawing on research undertaken in 80 archives in six countries as well as testimonies from more than 100 former pupils, Roche discovered just how keen the Nazis were to learn from the “character-forming” example of the British system.


Between 1934 and 1939 there was a blizzard of reciprocal exchanges between British and German schools, with boys from Britain’s most prestigious private schools spending extended periods at the Napolas.


Roche, an associate professor at Durham University, said the Napola authorities wanted to learn from the British system, ultimately hoping to create a superior model for their own schools.


While British private schools had been educating “the rulers of the centuries-old British empire”, Roche said it was envisaged “that the Napolas should train the rulers of the ‘thousand-year Reich’.”



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