The experiences of Jewish children, teens, and young adults in the German education system had a critical impact on how they formed their identities as Jews and as Germans. Jewish and other German children imbibed the German classics, German nationalism, and strong doses of discipline at school. In public, Jews accepted Christianity in the schools, either officially or unofficially, permitting and even encouraging the decline of Jewish schools. In private, the home and family, not the Jewish religion lessons they were required to take, influenced the depth of their religious and ethnic identities.
German school systems saw a variety of changes in the Imperial era. Curricula were altered to include sciences, modern languages, and physical education. More semiclassical Realgymnasia (high schools) opened, and girls increasingly attended secondary schools.1 Instruction could be tedious, and teachers could still use corporal punishment,2 hence the memoirs of Jewish and other German children3 contain recollections of teachers as "enemies" and school as "torture." Memoirs from mistreated pupils make today's reader cringe.4 Any countertendency toward a more liberal approach should not be exaggerated.5
Generally, Jews showed a great deal of interest in child rearing and pedagogy. Jewish men donated money to found kindergartens, and Jewish women, in significant numbers, supported the progressive, secular kindergarten movement established by Friedrich Fröbel. In Berlin, Lina Morgenstern initiated the Society for the Promotion of Fröbel Kindergartens (1859) and wrote a handbook explaining his ideas.6 She also organized an institute to train caretakers