Education and Society in Germany

By H. J. Hahn | Go to book overview

5
Re-education after 1945

Introduction

Until recently there was a virtual consensus as far as the results of Allied attempts at re-educating Germany were concerned. The established view suggested that a complete re-education programme was successful only in the Soviet zone and that the Western occupation powers achieved at best only limited success within their territories in refashioning the education system in accordance with modern democratic principles. 1 This rather negative view is as much the result of exaggerated expectations as of an underestimation of the forces of reaction, reaching much further back into German history and culture than the twelve years of Nazi rule. If we look at Germany from a more recent vantage point, it must be acknowledged not only that it is now fully integrated into Western political culture, but that its democratic structures have demonstrated an ability to embrace modern concepts and problems. Germany has developed a pluralist, tolerant response to political and public pressures and, especially amongst its younger generation, produced a protest culture which, in general, has been beneficial to the nation's social and political life.

Such a change could not have happened overnight. The experiences of war and nationalism and the 'ideological activity' of the previous age produced a 'sceptical generation' with an instinct to shun the public stage and to withdraw into the secure obscurity of private life. 2 This prevalent scepticism resulted in the rejection of all forms of idealism in favour of personal stability, with practical considerations such as career prospects uppermost in their minds [Text 1]. In contrast, the almost immediate and apparently successful transformation which many thought was evident in East Germany was perhaps less total than propagandist literature might have suggested and -- in the aftermath of the collapse of the GDR -- a re-evaluation of its social and educational reforms would therefore seem in order.

In view of the availability of a wealth of detailed studies on Allied education policies in the four occupation zones, this chapter will not consider each zone separately. It will attempt to focus on common problems such as the potential supersession of the old elite by a new one and will analyse the German response to Allied proposals for educational reform, examining specific interest groups such

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Education and Society in Germany
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Figures vii
  • Preface ix
  • Notes xi
  • 1 - The German Concept of Bildung 1
  • Notes 18
  • Textual Studies 21
  • 2 - A Period of Transition: from the Formation of the Empire to the First World War 26
  • Notes 42
  • Textual Studies 44
  • 3 - The Weimar Republic: Reform and Reaction 50
  • Notes 63
  • Textual Studies 65
  • 4 - Education and Ideology Under National Socialism 71
  • Notes 84
  • Textual Studies 86
  • 5 - Re-Education After 1945 91
  • Notes 105
  • Textual Studies 108
  • 6 - The Education System of the Federal Republic 1949-1989: the Reluctant Process of Modernization 113
  • Notes 130
  • Textual Studies 133
  • 7 - Education in the Former Gdr: Socialist Education in Theory and Practice 137
  • Notes 153
  • Textual Studies 155
  • 8 - Trends in Education and Society Since Unification 159
  • Notes 176
  • Textual Studies 179
  • Select Bibliography 183
  • Index 188
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