Cost of education in Germany in 1900

Cost of education in Germany in 1900

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I am curious how much did the German universities charge their students in late 19th early 20th century. I am specifically interested in the math/science education at University of Göttingen, one of the leading institutions of its time.

For comparison, here is what UPenn charged - they have an amazingly helpful page on this:

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
EDIT: I have asked an older student and before the 1970s there was in fact a so-called "Hörergeld" "listener money" which was in the range of 100-200 Mark (comparable to 30-45 $) for half a year. The interesting thing is that is was not for the university, but for the professor, so while there was charging, the answer is still correct. I myself paid 120 Mark for half a year, but this gave me the right for unlimited public transport in the area, so I did not count that. The Hörergeld during the 1900s should have a comparable range (neglible for wealthy students, perceptible to students working part time), because Albert Einstein lamented that there was opposition to allow very poor students listening to the courses.

This may come as a complete shock to people especially from the US but the concept of Universities charging their students was/is completely foreign in Germany. The running costs are paid by taxes from the government. There was always the firm belief in Germany that people have a right of education. This was so ingrained that students

  • had severe discounts on lodging, visiting libraries, cinema and public transport.
  • lived together with many people in bigger apartments to share the rental or living in subsidized lodgings, "Studentenwohnungen".
  • had after the 1970s a right to get financial support from the government, the so called "Bafög"

Even worse:

  • there were no limits how long your study take. You could choose to do it in minimum time or 30 years long.
  • you were not obliged to attend a lecture. You could completely disregard the lectures and study yourself, the only thing you needed was to pass the tests. So many people were able to do jobs part time and were able to finance their education.

In fact, I am one of the German students who did his "Diplom" with exactly this conditions. Now you may think that it may have changed, but you need only to read Mark Twains "A Tramp abroad" in the 1880s to see that it was the same in old times.

During the Bologna process starting nearly exactly with the beginning of the 21. century the old process was "reformed", changing Dipl. to Bachelor and Master and introducing charges as "Studiengebühren".

But due to problems with the organization and general disappointment with the system, "Studiengebühren" were mostly scrapped again.

History of education in England

The history of education in England is documented from Saxon settlement of England, and the setting up of the first cathedral schools in 597 and 604.

Education in England remained closely linked to religious institutions until the nineteenth century, although charity schools and "free grammar schools", which were open to children of any religious beliefs, became more common in the early modern period. Nineteenth century reforms expanded education provision and introduced widespread state-funded schools. By the 1880s education was compulsory for children aged 5 to 10, with the school leaving age progressively raised since then, most recently to 18 in 2015.

The education system was expanded and reorganised multiple times throughout the 20th century, with a Tripartite System introduced in the 1940s, splitting secondary education into grammar schools, secondary technical schools and secondary modern schools. In the 1960s this began to be phased out in favour of comprehensive schools. Further reforms in the 1980s introduced the National Curriculum and allowed parents to choose which school their children went to. Academies were introduced in the 2000s and became the main type of secondary school in the 2010s. [1]

Scotland has a separate system see History of education in Scotland.

Putting the Rising Cost of College in Perspective

A s American college students get ready for the new semester, many of them and their families have more on their minds than homework: the problem of paying is a national one. The questions of free college, student-loan restructuring and how to get the most bang for your tuition buck are debated at the highest levels of politics and around kitchen tables.

Which is nothing new. A look at TIME’s archives reveals that fretting about the cost of college has been a national issue in the U.S. for a century.

As John D. Rockefeller Jr. explained it in 1927, there was once a time when it made sense for society not to expect students to pay much for college: most of the students were going into the ministry, or into some other low-paying but society-benefiting career, so it behooved the nation to keep costs low by supplementing funds with endowments and gifts from men like Rockefeller himself. That had changed by the early 20th century, when more men (and a few women) were going to college, many of them in preparation for their future high-earning careers, or simply because it was becoming more normal. Why, the reasoning went, shouldn’t they pay more?

If they couldn’t afford it, Rockefeller suggested a system of student loans that sounds pretty nice today. “For those students who could not meet these higher costs scholarships and student aid would need to be used with increasing liberality, and student loan funds provided on a large scale,” he declared. “For most students other than those who go into the ministry or teaching, a loan either with or without interest, with the first payment date possibly ten years after graduation, would meet the situation and not prove an undue burden.” (His detractors cautioned, however, that such a system would make college the domain of the wealthy.)

Sure enough, in the years that followed, as the national economy tanked and colleges moved further away from the ministry-centric mission they had once espoused, many of the country’s best schools raised tuition.

As a result, the cost of a year of room and board and tuition at Vassar in 1931 was notably high: a whopping $1,200&mdashor $500 for locals who lived at home. ($1,200 in 1931 is about $19,000 in today’s dollars.)

In 1934, a freshman matriculating at Dartmouth would spend $1,050 on tuition, room and board, and “incidentals.” The expected real cost of a year at Dartmouth, after fraternity fees and other expected expenses were accounted, was $1,700&mdashby TIME’s reporting, “highest in the land.” (That’s about $30,500 in today’s dollars.) That year the U.S. Office of Education surveyed the nation’s colleges about the cost of attendance and found that the average cost for one academic year was $630 ($11,300 today).

In 1944, when President Franklin Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill of Rights, he guaranteed that qualifying veterans would receive a free year of college&mdashmeaning up to $500 a year. ($6,800 today.) In the years that followed World War II, philanthropic donations to American colleges were up, but so were costs. Tuitions had been raised “to the limit,” TIME noted, in places like the University of Pennsylvania, where students were charged $600 in 1950 (nearly $6,000 today). By 1960, with enrollment surging, even more money was needed, and a major tuition hike was forecast. That year, college costs surveyed by TIME included $2,015 for tuition, room and board, and fees for a year at Bates, and $1,450 for Lewis and Clark. (That’s $16,400 and $11,800 today.)

These days, the average cost for a year at a four-year college ranges from $9,410 for in-state public tuition to $32,410 for private. Neither of those figures include room and board. But, in general and at many specific places, costs are far higher: just looking at a few of the colleges surveyed by TIME over the years, Vassar these days costs $52,320 for a year’s tuition, and Bates is $64,500 for tuition, room and board and fees.

So the worry over rising tuition may be nothing new, but the scale of those worries is.

While politicians debate solutions, what are families to do in the meantime?

In 1969, TIME proposed one unorthodox solution: “How can parents cope with the rising cost of college? Answer: raise a boy like Thomas Lagos, who has just saved his family thousands of dollars by breezing through Ohio’s Wittenberg University in a single year.”

Essay: Migration History in Germany

There has never been a more opportune time to reinvestigate the historical development of our society. In 2011, Germany had 80.3 million residents. Of those residents, 15.96 million - almost 19% of the entire population – had a migration background.* In 2005, in comparison, 17.9% of the population had a migration background.

At the same time, Germany's workforce no longer meets the labor demands of today's economy. There are some important parallels to be drawn between the current situation and the era of the so-called economic miracle, which began in the mid-1950s. However, the history of migration in Germany reaches back further than that.

*According to the German Federal Statistics Office: All individuals who have immigrated to the Federal Republic of Germany since 1949, all foreign citizens born in Germany, and all children born as German citizens to at least one parent who immigrated or was born in Germany as a foreign citizen are considered to have a migration background.

From a Land of Emigration to a Land of Immigration

Incessant wars, religious conflicts, famines, political grievances and a lack of prospects forced many people to leave Germany over the centuries. The land's relative population loss was enormous. An estimated six million emigrants left Germany between 1820 and 1920. A large portion immigrated to the USA. The tide of emigration only began to ebb, beginning in 1890, as the industrial era brought economic success to the German Empire. From that point on, the number of individuals immigrating to Germany surpassed the number of Germans who left. Foreign laborers found employment, above all, in the booming centers of the coal and steel industries.

The National Socialist Dictatorship and the Post-War Years

The forced employment of foreigners was one visible sign of the national-socialists' regime of injustice. The camps and the daily sight of forced laborers were simply part of everyday life for the local population. They paid little attention to the situation. The callous indifference displayed in the post-war years toward the issue of forced labor reflects how little it was considered a misdeed.

The years after 1945 were shaped by people in motion as well. The forced mobility of diverse groups of people (refugees, people expelled from their homes through territorial exchange and other so-called displaced persons) altered the structure of the German population. Tensions and conflicts with local residents arose with the influx of refugees and expellees. Socio-cultural and confessional differences, in particular, gave rise to disputes. The number of refugees and expellees only first began to decline at the end of the 1940s. Simultaneously, the growing demand for labor soon outstripped the capacity of the labor force. The labor shortage was particularly acute in the fields of agriculture and heavy industry.

"Guest Workers" as "Human Capital"

The economic recovery and subsequent boom in West Germany exceeded even the boldest forecasts. Economic growth rates of up to 12.1% left the land reeling. The unemployment rate shrank dramatically over a relatively short time span, from 11% in 1950 to less than 1% in 1961. In order to offset labor shortages, the federal government turned to a traditional model of recruiting and temporarily employing foreign workers. The first "Agreement on the Recruitment and Placement of Workers" ("Abkommen über Anwerbung und Vermittlung von Arbeitskräften") was negotiated with Italy in 1955. Further contracts soon followed: with Greece and Spain (1960), Turkey (1961), Morocco (1963), Portugal (1964), Tunisia (1965) and Yugoslavia (1968). Economic and political actors, as well as the general population, assumed that the "guest workers" would not stay long. Based on that assumption, they did not think it necessary to develop any socio-political or infrastructural concepts to account for longer term residence.

Initially, the recruitment agreement with Italy had little impact, and the number of recruited workers remained relatively low. However, after 1959, the foreign population in Germany rapidly increased. Just a few years later, in 1964, the arrival of the millionth "guest worker," Rodrigues de Sá of Portugal, was celebrated.

During this era, foreign workers were employed primarily as unskilled and semi-skilled laborers in sectors were piece work, shift work and assembly line positions could be found. They took on jobs that German laborers considered unattractive. This made it possible for many West Germans to move up into more favorable or more qualified positions. In this way, foreign workers massively boosted upward mobility among the core workforce, without enjoying the same level of benefit. Although foreign workers were formally considered equal to their German counterparts, lack of training, non-recognition of foreign certifications and language deficits limited the "guest workers" to the lowest wage categories.

The economic crisis of 1966-7 exacerbated the tensions over the recruitment of foreign laborers. West Germans had become accustomed to steady growth through the post-war years. This first post-war recession was a hard blow to the ego of the proud "Republic of the Economic Miracle." In the area of labor market policy, this recession-induced insecurity led to heated and critical debates about the sense in employing foreign workers.

The 1973 Recruitment Ban and its Consequences

The recruitment ban (Anwerbestopp), set forth in a directive on November 23, 1973, marked the end of the era of foreign labor recruitment to West Germany. The ban completely blocked the entry of "guest workers" from lands which were not members of the European Economic Community (EEC). Those seeking to legitimate the decision pointed to the "price shocks" that accompanied the 1973 oil crisis. But in truth, the oil crisis simply proved to be a convenient moment to attempt to shrink the foreign population. However, the hope that the "guest worker issue" would resolve itself, through voluntary return, proved to be very unrealistic. Fearing they would not be able to return to work in Germany, many foreign laborers chose not to leave the country at all. This necessary change in the plans on the part of many "guest workers" transformed their anticipated short-term stay into permanent residence. Through the right to family reunification, many foreign laborers arranged the subsequent immigration of their family members to Germany.

The 1980s and 1990s

While immigration figures remained modest through the 1980s, the numbers rapidly grew again in the early 1990s. At times, they even surpassed the highest rates from the "guest worker" era. The vast geo-political changes of that era led to rising number of migrants, asylum seekers and ethnic Germans returning from former German settlements in Eastern Europe. In particular, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the wars in former Yugoslavia and the human rights crisis in the Kurdish region of Turkey spurred the influx. Simultaneously, xenophobic resentments grew over the course of German reunification. This rising wave of racism and xenophobia culminated in a string of incidences of mob violence (in Hoyerswerda, Rostock, Mölln, Solingen and elsewhere). As immigration rates began to decline again in the mid-1990s, incidences of brazen violence against residents with migration backgrounds also diminished.

One central reason for the shrinking numbers from the mid-1990s is the so-called "Asylum Compromise." Since its implementation in 1993, individuals who have fled lands deemed by the German government to be "free of persecution" and all those who have traveled through "safe third-states" on their way no longer qualify for asylum in Germany. Because it only shares its borders with "safe third-states," it has therefore become impossible for refugees to legally enter Germany overland.

2000: From Heredity to a Territorially Based Right to Citizenship

In the year 2000, dual citizenship became possible in Germany. This change enables children born in Germany to foreign-born permanent residents to hold a German passport as well. This is no small policy shift: it signifies a fundamental transformation of the understanding of German citizenship. Whereas the right to the German nationality was previously only available through hereditary links (ius sanguinis), it is now available to individuals born on German territory (ius soli) too. However, only the children of EU-citizens or parents from states with special agreements with Germany may keep their dual citizenship long-term. All others must choose one of their nationalities upon reaching legal adulthood.

Developments in the new Millennium

The legal frame

In 2005 the new immigration law (Gesetz zur Steuerung und Begrenzung der Zuwanderung und zur Regelung des Aufenthalts und der Integration von Unionsbürgern und Ausländern) came into effect. With this Germany declared itself as a country of immigration. Integration was defined as a legal duty. The law aimed to simplify the current procedure: many different residence titles for specific purposes, which even experts described as being complicated were simplified into two: the temporary residence permit (befristete“Aufenthaltserlaubnis”) and the permanent settlement permit (unbefristete “Niederlassungserlaubnis”). Furthermore, the law aimed to simplify the corresponding processes. Moreover, it was the first time that language courses became a legal requirement.

The first Integration Summit took place in 2006. The Federal Chancellor, religious representatives and communities, media, unions, sport associations, employers, charitable organisations and migrants took part. The trigger was the results from the PISA study which said that success in the educational system is linked to the origin and the educational background of one’s family. The Integration Summit led to the development of the national integration plan. Here the focus was on creating a dialog with Muslims. As a result there was the first so-called Islam Summit which also took place in 2006. The Government, Muslim associations and individuals participated.

The aforementioned national integration plan was implemented in 2007. In the same year amendments were made to the immigration law because of EU guidelines. A third residence title was introduced: the permission for permanent residence (“Erlaubnis zum Daueraufhalt-EG”). Since then those people that had been tolerated (“Geduldete”) could receive a permanent residence permit, if they fulfilled certain criteria. There were also changes made to the conditions for spouses to follow their partners. The spouses must be of age and be able to prove basic German language skills.

A naturalisation test was introduced on the 1st September 2008. In order to receive German citizenship 17 out of 33 questions must be answered correctly. The test aims to aid integration because it forces the person to occupy themselves with the German language, history, laws, society and culture. Furthermore, a high language level than before is required.

Figures and Structure of Immigration

In the past years the number of people with a migration background has risen. In 2013 there were roughly 16.5 million people, so 20.5% of the population who had a migration background. In 2011 this was 19.5%, whilst in cities 46% of children had a migration background. In 2005 it was 15.3 million people which was 19% of the population. The term “migration background” is disputed. The Statistical Federal Office defines people with a migration background as people “who moved to the present territory of the Federal Republic of Germany after 1949, all foreigners born in Germany and all people born in Germany with German nationality who have at least one parent who immigrated to Germany or is a foreigner who was born in Germany”. The term has been used since 2005. Away from the official definition the question arises of how the person feels what is the self-perception of the people who fall under this definition?

In 2013 1.2 million people came to Germany. Simultaneously 797,000 people left Germany. This resulted in a plus of 403,000 people. This was the highest plus since 1993. Of the 1.2 million immigrants 755,000 (62%) came from within the EU. The largest country of origin was Poland.

The Blue Card was introduced in 2012. The aim was to simplify the process of receiving a work and residence permit within the EU for highly qualified professionals from outside of the EU. Among other reasons the Blue Card is criticised for having a high minimum wage requirement (66,000 Euros per annum).

A further immigration trend is high potentials coming to Germany from the south of Europe. Due to high unemployment, especially amongst younger people, more and more qualified professionals are coming to Germany. For example in 2011 the number of Greek immigrants rose by 78% and the number of Spanish and Portuguese immigrants by over 50%. Of these immigrants 50-70% have a degree.

Furthermore, Germany is a popular country for studying. In total there are 86,000 students in Germany who have earned their higher education entrance qualification outside of Germany.

The number of asylum applicants has also risen steeply in the last years. Between 2012 and 2013 there was a 70% increase. In total there were 109,580 applications in 2013. Between 2013 and 2014 the figure increased by a further 60%. In 2014 23% of the applicants came from Syria, 10% from Serbia and 8% from Eritrea. In January 2015 24.6% applicants came from Syria, 14% from Kosovo and 9.4% from Serbia. In comparison to other countries such as Lebanon or Turkey Germany offers very few people asylum. Moreover, the cities and communities are often not prepared for the arrival of refugees. The temporary accommodations are overcrowded and turn into semi-permanent solutions.

Prejudices and Stereotypes

De facto Germany is a country of immigration however, it is not a society of immigration. There are still many prejudices and stereotypes that have a negative impact on living together in society.

One example of a prejudice is that people come to Germany to exploit the welfare system. However the facts paint a different picture: Germany profits from the immigrants. They boost the economy, contribute towards the welfare system and help reduce the lack of professionals.

120 Years of Literacy

Literacy from 1870 to 1979:

Excerpts are taken from Chapter 1 of 120 Years of American Education: A Statistical Portrait (Edited by Tom Snyder, National Center for Education Statistics, 1993).


This section, Historical Data, presents information from 1869-70-the date of the first Office of Education report-to the late 1970s on. The creation of the Federal Department of Education in 1867 highlighted the importance of education. The Act of 1867 directed the Department of Education to collect and report the "condition and progress of education" in annual reports to Congress. In the first report of 1870, the Commissioner proudly reported that nearly 7 million children were enrolled in elementary schools and 80,000 were enrolled in secondary schools. Also some 9,000 college degrees had been awarded. This contrasts with 1990, when 30 million enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools and 11 million enrolled in secondary schools. Over 1.5 million bachelor's and higher degrees were awarded.

What path has American education taken from such modest beginnings to such an impressive present? These and other questions prompted the Office of Educational Research and Improvement to review historical data and report on historical education statistics. This publication presents information from the first Office of Education report for 1869-70 to current day studies. It charts the development of the U.S. education enterprise from its past to the present day, pointing towards its future.

Educational Characteristics of the Population

One of the important determinants of the scope of an education system is the size of the population base. Changes in the birth rates and consequential shifts in the population profoundly influence society for decades as larger or smaller groups (birth cohorts) move through school, adulthood, work force, and finally into retirement. Larger birth cohorts can cause pressure for building schools, hiring more teachers and expanding medical services reduced cohorts can have the opposite effect. During the historical period covered by this publication, there have been several of these population expansions and contractions that have impacted on public school systems.

The early years of the United States were marked by very rapid population growth. Between 1790 and 1860 the U.S. population grew by about a third each decade. This rate of growth is more than 3 times the population growth that has occurred in the past decade. These rises occurred despite the declines in the birth rate during the 19th century. Increases in immigration and in the number of women of child-bearing age apparently compensated for the birth rate declines.

In the last decade of the 19th century, the population growth rate fell to 22 percent and the drops continued into the first 2 decades of the 20th century. The 1920s marked a period of shifts in the population outlook. The birth rate continued to fall, dropping from 118 per 1,000 women 15 to 44-years-old in 1920 to 89 in 1930. But also, the actual number of births fell by 11 percent during the 1920s, marking a divergence from the relative stability of the teens. The decline in the birth rates stabilized during the 1930s, and then rose dramatically following World War II, reaching a peak of 123 births per 1,000 women in 1957. This post-war birth rate was nearly as high as those registered in the early teens. After this peak of the "baby boom," birth rates resumed their historical decline. The low points in birth rates so far this century were in 1984 and in 1986, when there were 65 births per 1,000 women. The U.S. is now experiencing a surge in the number of births caused by the large number of "baby boomers" at child-bearing age. The 4.1 million births in 1991 is nearly as high as the peak of 4.3 million in 1957.

The number of births and the population size are important determinants of the scope of the school system. But the relative size of the school-age population is also an important consideration when examining the impact of the cost of education on the adult population. In 1870, about 35 percent of the population was 5- to 17-years-old. This proportion fell rapidly to 28 percent at the turn of the century, but further changes in the beginning of the century were very small. In the 1930s, the percentage of 5- to 17-years-olds in the population began to decline, reaching a low point of 20 percent in 1947. During the late 1960s, the proportion of 5- to 17-year-olds rose to 26 percent. However, this proportion has fallen in recent years, hitting 18 percent in 1991. Thus, the proportion of the population requiring elementary and secondary school services is at or near a record low level. Given the recent rises in births, significant decreases in this proportion are not anticipated for the near future.

Enrollment Rates

The proportion of young people enrolled in school remained relatively low in the last half of the 19th century. Although enrollment rates fluctuated, roughly half of all 5- to 19-year-olds enrolled in school. Rates for males and females were roughly similar throughout the period, but rates for blacks were much lower than for whites. Prior to the emancipation of Southern blacks, school enrollment for blacks largely was limited to only a small number in Northern states. Following the Civil War, enrollment rates for blacks rose rapidly from 10 percent in 1870 to 34 percent in 1880.

However, in the ensuing 20 years there was essentially no change in the enrollment rates for blacks and the rate for whites actually fell. The beginning of the 20th century brought sustained increases in enrollment rates for both white and minority children. The overall enrollment rates for 5- to 19-year-olds rose from 51 percent in 1900 to 75 percent in 1940. The difference in the white and black enrollment rates narrowed from 23 points in 1900 to 7 points in 1940.

Enrollment rates continued to rise in the post-war period for all race groups. By the early 1970s, enrollment rates for both whites and blacks had risen to about 90 percent and these rates have remained relatively stable since then. In 1991, the enrollment rate for 5- to 19-year-olds was 93 percent for blacks, whites, males, and females.

While the enrollment rates for children of elementary school age have not shown major changes during the past 20 years, there have been some increases for younger students as well as for those persons attending high school and college. The enrollment rate for 7- to 13-year-olds has been 99 percent or better since the late 1940s, but the rate for the 14- to 17-year-olds has exhibited significant increases since that period. During the 1950s, the enrollment rate of 14- to 17-year-olds rose from 83 percent to 90 percent.

Further increases during the 1960s and 1980s brought the enrollment rate to a high of 96 percent by the late 1980s. The rates for 5- and 6-year-olds also rose, from 58 percent in 1950 to 95 percent in 1991. Rates those of college-age doubled or tripled throughout the 1950 to 1991 period, with much of the increase occurring during the 1980s. In 1950, only 30 percent of 18- and 19-year-olds were enrolled in school, compared to 60 percent in 1991. The rate for 20- to 24-year-olds rose from 9 percent in 1950 to 30 percent in 1990.

Educational Attainment

The increasing rates of school attendance have been reflected in rising proportions of adults completing high school and college. Progressively fewer adults have limited their education to completion of the 8th grade which was typical in the early part of the century. In 1940, more than half of the U.S. population had completed no more than an eighth grade education. Only 6 percent of males and 4 percent of females had completed 4 years of college. The median years of school attained by the adult population, 25 years old and over, had registered only a scant rise from 8.1 to 8.6 years over a 30 year period from 1910 to 1940.

During the 1940s and 1950s, the more highly educated younger cohorts began to make their mark on the average for the entire adult population. More than half of the young adults of the 1940s and 1950s completed high school and the median educational attainment of 25- to 29-years-olds rose to 12 years. By 1960, 42 percent of males, 25 years old and over, still had completed no more than the eighth grade, but 40 percent had completed high school and 10 percent had completed 4 years of college. The corresponding proportion for women completing high school was about the same, but the proportion completing college was somewhat lower.

During the 1960s, there was a rise in the educational attainment of young adults, particularly for blacks. Between 1960 and 1970, the median years of school completed by black males, 25- to 29-years-old, rose from 10.5 to 12.2. From the middle 1970s to 1991, the educational attainment for all young adults remained very stable, with virtually no change among whites, blacks, males or females. The educational attainment average for the entire population continued to rise as the more highly educated younger cohorts replaced older Americans who had fewer educational opportunities.

In 1991, about 70 percent of black and other races males and 69 percent of black and other races females had completed high school. This is lower than the corresponding figures for white males and females (80 percent). However, the differences in these percentages have narrowed appreciably in recent years. Other data corroborate the rapid increase in the education level of the minority population. The proportion of black and other races males with 4 or more years of college rose from 12 percent in 1980 to 18 percent in 1991, with a similar rise for black and other races females.


Illiteracy statistics give an important indication of the education level of the adult population. Today, illiteracy is a different issue than in earlier years. The more recent focus on illiteracy has centered on functional literacy, which addresses the issue of whether a person's educational level is sufficient to function in a modern society. The earlier surveys of illiteracy examined a very fundamental level of reading and writing. The percent of illiteracy, according to earlier measurement methods, was less than 1 percent of persons 14 years old and over in 1979.

The data in this table for the years 1870 to 1930 come from direct questions from the decennial censuses of 1870 to 1930, and are therefore self-reported results. The data for 1947, 1952, 1959, 1969, and 1979 were obtained from sample surveys they exclude the Armed Forces and inmates of institutions. The statistics for the census years 1940 and 1950 were derived by estimating procedures.

Percentage of persons 14 years old and over who were illiterate (unable to read or write in any language), by race and nativity: 1870 to 1979

Year Total White Black and other
Total Native Foreign-born
1870 20.0 11.5 &ndash &ndash 79.9
1880 17.0 9.4 8.7 12.0 70.0
1890 13.3 7.7 6.2 13.1 56.8
1900 10.7 6.2 4.6 12.9 44.5
1910 7.7 5.0 3.0 12.7 30.5
1920 6.0 4.0 2.0 13.1 23.0
1930 4.3 3.0 1.6 10.8 16.4
1940 2.9 2.0 1.1 9.0 11.5
1947 2.7 1.8 &ndash &ndash 11.0
1950 3.2 &ndash &ndash &ndash &ndash
1952 2.5 1.8 &ndash &ndash 10.2
1959 2.2 1.6 &ndash &ndash 7.5
1969 1.0 0.7 &ndash &ndash 3.6 *
1979 0.6 0.4 &ndash &ndash 1.6 *
* Based on black population only
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970 and Current Population Reports, Series P-23, Ancestry and Language in the United States: November 1979. (This table was prepared in September 1992.)

For the later part of this century the illiteracy rates have been relatively low, registering only about 4 percent as early as 1930. However, in the late 19th century and early 20th century, illiteracy was very common. In 1870, 20 percent of the entire adult population was illiterate, and 80 percent of the black population was illiterate. By 1900 the situation had improved somewhat, but still 44 percent of blacks remained illiterate. The statistical data show significant improvements for black and other races in the early portion of the 20th century as the former slaves who had no educational opportunities in their youth were replaced by younger individuals who grew up in the post Civil War period and often had some chance to obtain a basic education. The gap in illiteracy between white and black adults continued to narrow through the 20th century, and in 1979 the rates were about the same.


The historical data show large increases in enrollment rates over the past 125 years, with some significant rises even in more recent years. The higher levels of education attained by young adults in the most recent decades suggest that the overall education level of the population will continue to rise slowly into at least the early 21st century.

Vocational Education and Training in Germany

The German education system has been praised for its ability to provide quality general education combined with excellent specific training for a profession or a skilled occupation. In 1992 about 65 percent of the country’s workforce had been trained through vocational education. In the same year, 2.3 million young people were enrolled in vocational or trade schools.

Building upon the junior secondary program, the Berufsschulen are two- and three-year vocational schools that prepare young people for a profession. In the 1992-93 academic year, there were 1.8 million enrolled in these schools. About 264,000 individuals attended Berufsfachschulen, also called intermediate technical schools (ITS). These schools usually offer full-time vocation-specific programs. They are attended by students who want to train for a specialty or those already in the workforce who want to earn the equivalent of an intermediate school certificate from a Realschule. Full-time programs take between twelve and eighteen months, and part-time programs take between three and three-and-one-half years. Other types of schools designed to prepare students for different kinds of vocational careers are the higher technical school (HTS), the Fachoberschule, attended by about 75,000 persons in 1992-93, and the advanced vocational school (AVS), the Berufsaufbauschule, attended by about 6,500 persons in the same year. Students can choose to attend one of these three kinds of schools after graduating with an intermediate school certificate from a Realschule or an equivalent school.

The method of teaching used in vocational schools is called the dual system because it combines classroom study with a work-related apprenticeship system. The length of schooling/training depends on prior vocational experience and may entail one year of full-time instruction or up to three years of part-time training.

Students can earn the Fachhochschulreife after successfully completing vocational education and passing a qualifying entrance examination. The Fachhochschulreife entitles a student to enter a Fachhochschule, or a training college, and to continue postsecondary occupational or professional training in engineering or technical fields. Such programs last from six months to three years (full-time instruction) or six to eight years (part-time instruction). Some students with many years of practical experience or those with special skills may also attend a Fachhochschule.

Vocational education and training is a joint government-industry program. The federal government and the Laender share in the financing of vocational education in public vocational schools, with the federal government bearing a slightly higher share than the Laender. On-the-job vocational training, whose cost is entirely borne by companies and businesses, is more costly to provide than vocational education.

According to the German Federal Institute of Vocational Education and Training (BIBB): Germany’s VET (vocational education and training) system is recognized as a successful model, largely because of the dual system, which leads to high-quality vocational qualifications and enables smooth education-to-work transitions. Although it is definitely at the heart of the German VET system the dual system does not cover all aspects of the German VET system. There have been 490.267 students in the dual system but also 225.590 students who study in so called full-time vocational schools in 2017 (cf. VET Data Report Germany 2017, p. 90). The complete German VET system consists of the elements described below.

Germany’s vocational schools partner with around 430,000 companies, and more than 80 percent of large companies hire apprentices.

According to an Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) survey, 516,200 people started apprenticeships in 2015. But this left many positions unfilled. Nearly a third of businesses surveyed were unable to recruit sufficient qualified applicants for their open trainee positions. In eastern Germany, the figure was 45 percent.

Manufacturing wages, 1920-1929


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Life in Nazi Germany, 1933-1939

The Nazis policies toward women were based on Hitler’s own views.

Hitler disliked the changes that had occurred in the 1920s that saw them gain greater rights and wanted women to have a more domesticated role.

Hitler did not want women involved in the world of employment and saw this as the role of men while women focused on the bearing and rearing of children.

The education women received was to also focus on their future role in society and focus on motherhood and marriage.

Although many women accepted the policies imposed by the Nazis, some resisted and were active in opposing these changes.

Those that opposed were usually arrested and sent to concentration camps.

Nazi policies

The Nazis introduced a series of measures to change the role of women.

One of the first changes to occur under the Nazis process of Gleichshaltang was to bring all 230 women’s organisations under one body – the Women’s Front, also known as Fraunfront.

Jewish women were not allowed to be members and in 1934, Gertrude Scholtz-Klink was appointed National Women’s Leader of Germany.

Nazi ideals

The Nazi’s had a very traditional view of on the role of women which was in great contrast to the position of women in society during the 1920s.

According to Nazi ideals, women:

  • Should not wear make-up
  • Were blonde, heavy hipped and athletic
  • Wore flat shoes and a full skirt
  • Did not smoke cigarettes
  • Did not work
  • Were responsible for the household duties such as cooking, cleaning and raising children
  • Stayed out of politics

Nazi policies on marriage and family

The Nazis were concerned about the declining birthrate in Germany.

In 1900, there had been over 2 million live births per year however this had dropped to less than 1 million by 1933.

This rose to 1.4 million by 1939 with jews allowed to have abortions, while non-Jewish people were not.

To address the declining population, a number of measures were taken:

  • A huge propaganda campaign to promote motherhood and large families was launched by the Nazis.
  • In an effort to reduce Germanys falling birth rate, the Law for the Encouragement of Marriage was introduced in 1933. This gave loans to young couples to get married, provided the wife left her job. The couples were able to keep one-quarter of the loan for each child born up to four.
  • On Hitler’s mothers birthday (12th August). women with large families were awarded medals.
  • Family allowances were available for those on low incomes.
  • The law was changed in 1938, allowing for married couples to divorce if they could not have children. This resulted in an increase in the divorce rate in 1939.
  • The Nazis set up a programme known as Lebensborn which means “found of life”. This allowed specially chosen unmarried women to donate a baby to the Führer by becoming pregnant by “racially pure” SS men.
  • A new national organisation known as the German Women’s Enterprise was set up. The body organised classes and radio talks on household topics around the skills of motherhood.
  • Enrolment for universities was limited to only 10% of the total entry for women.
  • The Sterilisation Law was introduced in 1933 which resulted in 320� people being sterilised due to “mental deficiency”.
  • The Marriage Health Law was introduced in 1935 and stressed the importance of marrying someone who was “racially pure”.

Nazi women appearance

Women were encouraged to remain healthy and wear their hair in a bun or plaits.

They were discouraged from wearing clothes such as trousers, high heels, make-up or dying and styling their hair.

Slimming was also discouraged as this was seen as bad for childbearing.

Nazi women and employment

Women were expected to follow the “three K’s” which were Kinder, Küche and Kirche which translate to Children, kitchen and church.

Women were therefore expected to give up employment.

One of the Nazi’s promises was to generate jobs and another incentive for them to encourage women to give up employment was, every job a woman left then became available for a man to occupy.

Female doctors, civil servants, and teachers were all forced to give up their jobs.

After 1936, women were no longer allowed to become judges or serve on juries.

Schoolgirls were trained for home life and discouraged from going into higher education.

By 1937 however, these policies needed to be reversed as Germany began to rearm itself and men were joining the army.

This opened up the need for women to be in employment once again.

Marriage loans were abolished and a compulsory “duty year” was introduced for all women entering employment.

This usually meant helping on a farm or family home in exchange for a bed and board but no pay.

The number of women in employment in 1939 had increased to 14.6million from 11.6 million in 1933.

Nazi policies towards the young

Hitler believed the young people of Germany were the future of the Third Reich.

He spoke about his plans for the Thousand Year Reich which could only be achieved if the young people of Germany were converted to follow Nazi ideology.

The Nazi policies towards the young people were therefore centred around converting them into ideals such as obedience, loyalty to the Führer, putting Germany first, strengthening the racial purity of the nation and having a large family with lots of children.

These goals were achieved through the control of education and the Hitler Youth.

The idea was if the young people were controlled and indoctrinated at an early age through education and during their leisure time, they would then become committed and loyal followers of the Nazi and their way of life.

The Hitler Youth

The Nazis wanted to control the young in their spare time.

The Hitler Youth was created in an effort to do this and covered both young boys and girls.

The leader of the Hitler Youth was Baldur von Schirach.

All other youth organisations were banned and from 1936, membership of the Hitler Youth had become compulsory, although many did not join.

By 1939, membership for the Hitler Youth was over 7 million members.

Many members enjoyed the friendships and comradeships they formed within the group.

Group NameAgeActivities
Little Fellows (Pimpfe)6-10Sports, hiking, camping
German Young People (Deutsches Jungvolk)10-13Military preparation
Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend)14-18Training for the military

It wasn’t just the men who were required to join Nazi groups, women had their own organisations too.

Below is a table of Nazi girl organisations. To be able to join the groups, the women had to be of German heritage, a German citizen and free of hereditary diseases.

Group NameAgeActivities
Young Girl’s League (Jungmädelbund)10-14Sport, camping
League of German Maidens (Bund Deutscher Mädel)14-18Lessons in preparing for motherhood, a compulsory year working on the land, domestic science, physical exercise, marches and parades.
Faith and Beauty (Glaube and Schönheit)18-21 (voluntary membership)Further training for marriage, life as a housewife, classes on making clothes and cooking healthy meals)

Nazi control of the young through education

Once in power, the Nazis appointed Bernhard Rust as the had of the newly established Ministry for Science, Education and National Culture.

Prior to 1933, the regional districts were in charge of education however this had now changed to put the government in charge of this.

Schooling was mandatory for everyone from the age of six (6) until the age of fourteen (14). After this point schooling was optional.

Boys and girls had to go to separate schools and by 1938, Jewish children were not allowed to attend German schools.

Various restrictions were placed Jews preventing them from going to university and many Jewish lecturers were not allowed to teach.

How the Nazis changed schools

Academic ability was no longer the most important feature and instead, the Nazis sought courage and athletic prowess.

The Nazis set up their own type of schools which were designed for those who would be future leaders of the state.

National Political Training institutes ( National Politische Lehranstalt – ‘Napola schools’ ) took boys from the age of 10 to 18 and upon graduation, many would join the armed forces or paramilitary groups.

After 1936, the SS took control of the Napola schools.

For those considered the elite of the Hitler Youth, the Adolf Hitler Schools took on students between the ages of 12 and 18.

Order Castles or Ordensburgen were for graduates of the Adolf Hitler Schools and entrants were often in their 20’s.

These practised war games where live ammunition was used and there were instances of students even being killed during these activities.

How the Nazis changed school textbooks

Hitlers biography, Mein Kampf became a standard text in education and all textbooks were rewritten to fit in with Nazi ideology.

This included views on racial purity and their view of history.

All school textbooks had to be approved by the Ministry of Education.

How teachers were influenced by the Nazis

Teachers were required to swear an oath of allegiance to Hitler to join the Nazi Teachers League.

By 1937, 97% of teachers had joined the league.

They were required to promote Nazi ideals with many dismissed if they did not show commitment to the prescribed ideology.

By 1936, 36% of teachers were also members of the Nazi party.


Lessons began and ended with students saluting and saying “Heil Hitler”.

Every subject consisted of Nazi themes Maths problems dealt with social issues, geography lessons were used to highlight the hostile neighbours around Germany.

In history lessons, students were taught about how communism was evil and the severity of the Treaty of Versailles.


The school curriculum was changed to prepare students for their future roles.

15% of the curriculum was dedicated to physical education as Hitler wanted a population of healthy, fit men and women.

The boy’s education emphasised preparation for the military with a great emphasis on Germany’s past and the Aryan race.

Students were taught how the Aryans were superior and should not marry inferior people such as the Jews.

Girls, in contrast, took needlework and home crafts which focused on cooking, becoming homemakers and mothers.

New subjects such as race studies were introduced to put across the Nazi ideology of race and population control.

Children were taught how to measure their skulls and classify racial types.

Religious education also became optional.

Nazi policies to reduce unemployment

One of the main reasons the Nazis gained huge support was the high level of unemployment in Germany.

By 1932, unemployment had reached 6 million people.

Hitler made promises to reduce the unemployment caused by the Great Depression and he did this through a number of measures.

The Reich Labour Service

The Reich Labour Service was a scheme designed to give young men manual labour jobs.

From 1935, it was compulsory for all men aged 18-25 to serve in the corps for 6 months.

The workers were required to work while living in camps, wearing uniforms and take part in military drills.

They received incredibly low pay for the work undertaken.

Invisible unemployment

In an effort to manipulate employment figures, the Nazis engaged in a number of methods to show less unemployment than there actually was.

The official figures presented by the Nazis did not include:

  • Jewish people dismissed from their jobs
  • Unmarried men under 25 who were in National Labour schemes
  • Women who were dismissed from their jobs or gave up work to get married.
  • Opponents of the Nazis who were imprisoned in concentration camps.
  • The fact that part-time workers were also shown as fully employed.

The Nazi Autobahns

Hitler spent billions in an attempt to create jobs as one of his campaign promises was to reduce unemployment.

In 1933, 18.4 billion marks had been spent and this rose to 37.1 billion five years later.

The Nazis also subsidised private firms, particularly those in the construction industry.

They also introduced a huge road-building programme to provide Germany with 7000 km of motorways (autobahns).

By 1938, only a little over 3000 km had been built.

Over 125� men were involved in the construction of autobahns with Hitler hoping they would enable his troops to respond rapidly in the case of war.

Nazi rearmament

Hitler was determined to rearm and rebuild the Nazi forces in preparation for war.

This greatly helped in reducing unemployment.

In 1935, the Nazis reintroduced conscription which took thousands of young men into military service.

The army grew from 100� in 1933 to 1.4 million by 1939.

Heavy industry expanded to meet the needs of Hitler’s goal to rearm coal and chemicals doubled between 1933 to 1939 with oil, iron and steel trebling.

Billions were spent in the production of tanks, aircraft and ships.

In 1933, 3.5 billion marks had been spent on rearmament. By 1939, this had increased to 26 billion marks.

How the Nazis changed the standard of living

The Nazis knew that they could not simply force the German people into complete obedience to the government.

In an effort to win workers over and make them feel part of the people’s community (Volksgemeinschaft), various schemes were introduced as incentives. Many turned out to be very successful.

Strength through Joy (Kraft durch Freude – KdF)

The KDF was an organisation set up by the German Labour Front and tried to improve the leisure time of German workers.

This was done through sponsoring a wide range of leisure and cultural trips such as concerts, theatre visits, museum tours, sporting events, weekend trips, holidays and cruises.

These were all provided at a low cost and thus allowed ordinary workers access to activities normally reserved for those more wealthier.

In 1938, more than 10 million people had taken KdF holidays.

When World War 2 has begun, the organisation was shut down and several projects such as the Prora holiday resort were never completed.

Beauty of labour

This was a department of the KdF that tried to improve the working conditions for workers.

It helped organise the building of canteens, swimming pools, sports facilities, improved lighting in workplaces and improved noise levels for workers.

The average weekly wages of workers also rose from 82 marks in 1932, to 109 marks in 109 marks in 1938.

The Volkswagen Scheme

In 1938, the Labour Front organised the Volkswagen Scheme which gave workers a chance to pay 5 marks per week to eventually fund a car known as the Peoples Car.

This vehicle was sold to Germans on an instalment plan where buyers could make payments which would earn them a stamp that they collected in their stamp-savings book.

The idea was once enough stamps had been collected, they could redeem them for a Volkswagen vehicle.

No citizens ever received a vehicle due to the outbreak of the war and production shifting to meet these needs.

No one received a refund for their contributions either.

How the standard of living declined under the Nazis

Not everyone benefitted from the changes and women, in particular, were much worse off.

Women were denied employment opportunities, the cost of living had also risen and many of the basic rights of workers were removed.

In 1933, trade unions were banned and replaced by the German Labour Front.

The German Labour Front did not allow workers to negotiate for better pay or reduced hours and strikes were banned.

Those who opposed Nazi rule were sent to concentration camps for “re-education”.

The Reich Labour Service also made labour service compulsory for all men aged between the ages of 19-25.

There were also issues with Strength through Joy (KdF) as very few workers could actually afford the more expensive activities such as cruises.

Beauty of Labour also caused a great deal of resentment as workers had to carry out improvements in their spare time without pay.

The cost of living had also increased significantly during the 1930s.

All basic groceries except fish cost more in 1939 than they had in 1933.

As the Nazis were attempting to please farmers, it was government policy to reduce agricultural production and keep the prices of foods high. This also resulted in a short supply of food.

The number of hours worked per week had also increased from 42.9 hours per week in 1933 to 47 hours per week in 1939.

The persecution of minorities

In an effort to win support prior to 1933, Hitler had blamed the Jews for many of Germany’s problems including the defeat in the First World War as well as the harsh conditions of the Treaty of Versailles.

Other minorities were also later targeted and persecuted such as:

  • Gypsies,
  • Homosexuals
  • Mentally disabled
  • physicallydisabled
  • alcoholics
  • homosexuals
  • Juvenile delinquents

The Jews and minorities did not fit in with Hitler’s ideal of a ‘Pure’ Aryan German.

The term used to identify them was ‘asocial’.

Initially, the action taken against the Jews in 1933 was low level however by the end of the 1930s, many had their property confiscated, destroyed or they were in concentration camps.

The Nazis then turned their attention to persecuting these minority groups in much the same way and through the use of propaganda.

Ideal Germans were those seen as ‘socially useful’ and contributed to the state through employment.

Anyone that fell outside of this viewpoint was a ‘burden on the community’.

Persecution of Gypsies

During this time, there were approximately 30,000 Gypsies in Germany.

The Nazis reasons for removing them which were:

  • They were not Aryan and thus threatened the racial purity of the German people.
  • Gypsies threatened the German view of a stable home as they travelled across the country and had no fixed home.
  • They were considered to be ‘work-shy’.

Persecution of homosexuals

At the time, most of Europe did not look favourable at people who were homosexual and the Nazis were no different.

The Nazi view on the importance of family life and producing children meant same-sex relationships could not be tolerated by them.

Homosexuality was illegal in Nazi Germany and gay men were arrested and sent to concentration camps.

Lesbians were not persecuted as harshly as women were seen to be passive and subordinate to men.

Other extreme measures targeting minorities included:

Sterilisation Law

A law was passed in 1933 that allowed the Nazis to sterilise people with mental and physical disabilities including:

  • ‘Simple-mindedness’
  • Chronic alcoholism
  • Physical deformity
  • Mental illness
  • Epilepsy
  • Learning difficulties
  • Blindness
  • Deafness

Between 1934 and 1945, approximately 350� people were compulsorily sterilised.

People with physical disabilities were called ‘unworthy of life’ or ‘useless eaters’ and considered a burden on society.

Concentration camps

Those deemed ‘undesirables’ were sent to concentration camps.

This included prostitutes, homosexuals, Juvenile delinquents and by 1938, Gypsies and beggars were also targeted.

Euthanasia campaign

In 1939, the Nazis began to secretly kill those deemed mentally ill in a euthanasia campaign as they were seen as a threat to Aryan purity.

Around 6000 disabled babies, children and teenagers were killed through starvation or lethal injection.

What were the Nazi racial beliefs?

The Nazis wanted to create a pure German state and this was central to their beliefs.

This resulted in treating all non-German groups as second class citizens and this was especially the case for Jewish people.

Hitler’s theory of race was based on the idea of a ‘master race’ and the ‘subhumans’.

To back up his theory, he referenced the Bible and how it showed there were only two races, the Jews and the Aryans with God having a special purpose for the Aryan race.

The Nazis racial belief was that the Aryans would form a peoples community (Volksgemeinschaft) and this would be for the good of Germany.

They believed racially, the Germans were a ‘pure’ race of Aryan descent from the ‘master race’ (Herrenvolk).

In art, they were shown as blond, blue-eyed, tall, athletic and fit enough to master the world. The Nazis believed this race had been contaminated by the subhumans now however and their plan was to create a pure Aryan racial state.

To achieve this, the goal was to engage in:

  1. Selective breeding
  2. Destroying the Jewish people

Selective breeding meant preventing anyone that did not have Aryan heritage from having children.

The SS was part of the drive for selective breeding and recruited men who were of Aryan blood, tall, fair-haired and blue-eyed.

The SS soldiers were only allowed to marry women deemed to be of Aryan blood and mixed marriages or relationships were not allowed.

The Nazis went so far as to encourage SS members and Aryan women to have children outside of wedlock in order to further the ‘master race’.

Jewish people and Slavs were seen as ‘subhumans’ in comparison.

Nazi propaganda portrayed the Jews as evil moneylenders while Hitler intended for the Slavs to be driven out of Eastern Europe in an effort to secure more land for Germany as part of his policy of Lebensraum.

Any that chose to remain would be enslaved although he felt some might be ‘Germanised’.

After 1939, once the Second World War had started, Hitler began to enact this policy.

The Jewish people, in particular, were seen as an evil force and Hitler was convinced of their involvement in a world conspiracy to destroy civilisation.

Hitler believed the Jews were a wandering race that had infiltrated all aspects of civilised society and had to be removed.

“There can be no compromise. There are only two possibilities: either the victory of the Aryan master race or wiping out of the Aryan and the victory of the Jew.” A speech given by Hitler in 1922.

Why were the Jews persecuted?

The persecution of the Jewish people goes back way before Hitler started to target them and antisemitism goes back to the Middle Ages.

The Jews have been persecuted throughout history as they stood out as “different” across European regions.

They had a different religion, customs, and some Christians blamed them for the execution of Christ.

Other Jews became moneylenders and became wealthy from this and this resulted in increased suspicion or jealousy due to their success.

Why did Hitler hate the Jews?

Hitler had spent several years in Vienna where a long tradition of antisemitism existed.

Being very poor himself during this time, he resented the wealth of many of the Viennese Jews.

During the 1920s, he blamed them as scapegoats for all of society’s problems.

Hitler blamed the Jews for Germany’s defeat in the First World War, hyperinflation in 1923 and the Depression of 1929.

He was also determined to create a “pure” racial state which did not include the 500� Jews living in Germany.

Hiter wanted to eliminate the Jews from German society however struggled due to having no master plan on how to achieve this.

Until the beginning of the Second World War, a great deal of Nazi Jewish policy was uncoordinated initially.

How were the Jews Persecuted?

Hitler did not persecute the Jews straight away as he needed to ensure he had the support of the German people first.

To gain support for his anti-Semitic policies, propaganda was used and this was most evident in schools.

Young people especially were encouraged to hate the Jewish people and lessons and textbooks were modified to put across anti-Semitic views.

The Ministry of Education controlled school textbooks and teaching materials and this enabled the government to put anti-Semitic content into every classroom.

Laws were also passed to restrict the education of Jewish people and in 1936, Jewish teachers were banned from giving private tuition to German students.

By November 1938, Jewish children had been expelled from German schools.

The picture on the left is taken from the anti-Semitic children’s book The Poisonous Mushroom and reads:

“The Jewish nose is crooked at its tip. It looks like the number 6”.

The second picture is also from the same book.

The caption for this picture reads:

“The Jew cries out: “We don’t care about Germany. The main thing is that it goes well for us.”

“One day my daughter came home humiliated. ‘It was not so nice today.’ What happened?’ I asked. The teacher had sent the Aryan children to one side of the classroom, and the non-Aryans to the other. Then the teacher told the Aryans to study the appearance of the others and to point out the marks of their Jewish race. They stood separated as if by a gulf, children who had played together as friends the day before”

Written by a German mother in her memoirs after the Second World War.

lnge sits in the doctor’s waiting room. Again and again her mind dwells on the warnings of the BDM leader: ‘A German must not consult a Jewish doctor’ And particularly not a German girl! Many a girl who has gone to a Jewish doctor to be cured has found disease and disgrace. The door opens. lnge looks in. There stands the Jew. She screams. She’s so frightened she drops the magazine. Her eyes stare into the Jewish doctor’s face. His face is the face of the devil. In the middle of the devil’s face is a huge crooked nose. Behind the spectacles two criminal eyes. And thick lips that are grinning. ‘Now, I’ve got you at last, a little German girl.’

-An extract from a school textbook.

The boycott of Jewish shops

Upon becoming Chancellor, Hitler began to take incremental steps against the Jewish people of Germany.

Germans were persuaded through propaganda to boycott Jewish shops and businesses.

The boycott was a reaction to the stories in the international press which heavily criticised the Nazi regime.

The Nazis claimed these stories were instigated by Jews living abroad and in control of the press.

On Saturday 1st April 1933, the boycott of Jewish shops began and lasted only this day.

Members of the SA stood outside Jewish shops, department stores and other Jewish owned businesses to try and discourage entry from customers.

The image above shows members of the SA holding signs that read “Germans! defend yourself! don’t buy from Jews!”

The SA painted a Star of David outside many of the businesses doors and windows and the Police were somewhat complicit as they did not intervene even when there were acts of violence.

Most Germans ignored the boycott and as it occurred on a Saturday, the Jewish day of Sabbath, many Jewish shops were closed.

The Nuremberg Laws 1935

On 15th September 1935, two new laws were passed by the Nazi government at their annual Reich Party Congress in Nuremberg.

These two laws were known as the Reich Citizenship Law and the Law to Protect German Blood and Honour.

These would later be known as the Nuremberg Laws.

The Reich Citizenship Law decreed that only those of German blood could be German citizens.

Jewish people subsequently lost their citizenship, their right to vote and hold government office.

As the Nazis had removed their legal rights, they had effectively been pushed to the edges of society.

The Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honour forbade marriage or sexual relations between Jews and German citizens.

Marriages that had occurred before this law were still classed as legal but German citizens were encouraged to divorce their Jewish partners.

In reality, very few did so.

“Only a national of Germany or similar blood, who proves by his behaviour that he is willing and able loyally to serve the German people and Reich is a citizen of the Reich. A Jew may not be a citizen of the Reich. He has no vote. He may not hold any public office.”

The Reich Citizenship Law, 1935


For a short period, the persecution of the Jews eased due to the 1936 Olympic Games.

Once the Olympics had finished, the persecution restarted and worsened especially after Anschluss with Austria in March 1938 (the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany).

There was then a violent outburst of anti-Semitism within Germany.

On 8th November 1938, a young Polish Jew named Herschel Grynszpan walked into the German Embassy in Paris and gunned down the first German official he encountered.

Herschel Grynszpan (pictured left) was protesting against the treatment of his parents who had been deported from Germany to Poland.

Kristallnacht means “The Night of Broken Glass”.

Goebbels used this as an opportunity to organise anti-Jewish demonstrations which involved the attacks on Jewish owned property, shops, homes and synagogues.

So many windows had been smashed in this campaign that the events of 9-10th November became known as Kristallnacht.

Approximately 100 Jews were killed and 20� sent to concentration camps.

7500 businesses were also destroyed in the attacks.

The image on the right is of a synagogue destroyed during the attacks.

Jewish property owners were not allowed to make insurance claims for the damage caused.

In addition, any remaining Jewish businesses were not allowed to re-open under Jewish management but instead had to have ‘pure’ Germans in charge of them.

Many Germans were disgusted by Kristallnacht and Hitler and Goebbels were anxious that the attacks were not seen as the work of the Nazis.

Through propaganda, the attacks were portrayed as a spontaneous act of vengeance by Germans.

What happened after Kristallnacht?

The Jews were blamed for having provoked the attacks and this was used as an excuse to increase further persecution against them.

Hitler decreed the following:

  • Jews were fined one billion Reichmarks as compensation for the damage caused.
  • Jews were no longer allowed to own or manage businesses, shops or employ workers.
  • Jewish children were no longer allowed to attend Aryan schools.

Further persecution continued in 1939.

The Reich Office for Jewish Emigration was created with Reinhard Heydrich as its director.

The responsibility for driving the Jewish people out of Germany became the responsibility of the SS by forced emigration.

The following months saw the following measures put into place to drive the Jewish people out of Germany:

Health Insurance Cost in Germany

One thing you need to be aware of is that in Germany health insurance is mandatory by law regardless of your residence status or your income. You will have to get a health insurance plan from the very first day you enter the country.

In general, there are two main types of health insurance plans in Germany

You’re free to choose any of the above plans, depending on what you need to be covered and how much you’re willing to pay for.

How much can it cost you to be health insured?

Primarily, the cost of health insurance depends on the type of insurance plan you choose. The public health insurance, which is mandatory for everyone in Germany, charges lower premiums. The rate of payment you have to pay for your public health insurance plan (the GKV) is regulated by the government. Currently, the monthly premium rate for this plan ranges from 70 to 80 euros per month.

If you want to cover more medical needs you must get a private health insurance plan, which normally comes at a higher price. There are no standard premiums throughout private health insurance providers since there many different packages for different individual needs. You can even agree to have a specific monthly premium before the company starts to cover your health.

For an exact estimation of how much it will cost you to be health insured in Germany read our guide on health insurance in Germany.

Other Expenses You Need To Consider

Other than the basic needs already mentioned here, there are some other expenses you have to cover while studying and living in Germany. For example, you may need to get yourself a pair of new shoes or buy some new clothes to adjust to the new season.

In Germany the quality of clothing is high, but so is the price. A pair of jeans will cost you around 50 and 100 euros, while a pair of shoes (Nike Running shoes for example) will cost you between 60 and 120 euros. For a pair of Business shoes, you will have to pay a higher price ranging between 70 and 150 euros.

Nazi Education

Education played a very important part in Nazi Germany in trying to cultivate a loyal following for Hitler and the Nazis. The Nazis were aware that education would create loyal Nazis by the time they reached adulthood. The Hitler Youth had been created for post-school activities and schools were to play a critical part in developing a loyal following for Hitler – indoctrination and the use of propaganda were to be a common practice in Nazi schools and the education system.

Enforcing a Nazi curriculum on schools depended on the teachers delivering it. All teachers had to be vetted by local Nazi officials. Any teacher considered disloyal was sacked. Many attended classes during school holidays in which the Nazi curriculum was spelled out and 97% of all teachers joined the Nazi Teachers’ Association. All teachers had to be careful about what they said as children were encouraged to inform the authorities if a teacher said something that did not fit in with the Nazi’s curriculum for schools.

Subjects underwent a major change in schools. Some of the most affected were History and Biology.

History was based on the glory of Germany – a nationalistic approach was compulsory. The German defeat in 1918 was explained as the work of Jewish and Marxist spies who had weakened the system from within the Treaty of Versailles was the work of nations jealous of Germany’s might and power the hyperinflation of 1923 was the work of Jewish saboteurs the national resurgence which started under the leadership of Hitler etc.

Biology became a study of the different races to ‘prove’ that the Nazi belief in racial superiority was a sound belief. “Racial Instruction” started as the age of 6. Hitler himself had decreed that “no boy or girl should leave school without complete knowledge of the necessity and meaning of blood purity.” Pupils were taught about the problems of heredity. Older pupils were taught about the importance of selecting the right “mate” when marrying and producing children. The problems of inter-racial marriage were taught with an explanation that such marriages could only lead to a decline in racial purity.

Geography taught pupils about the land Germany had taken away from her in 1919 and the need for Germany to have living space – lebensraum.

Science had a military-slant to it. The curriculum required that the principles of shooting be studied military aviation science bridge building and the impact of poisonous gasses.

Girls had a different curriculum in some regards as they studied domestic science and eugenics – both of which were to prepare young girls to be the prefect mother and wife. In Eugenics, girls were taught about the characteristics to look out for in a perfect husband and father.

Indoctrination became rampant in all subjects. At every opportunity, teachers were expected to attack the life style of the Jews. Exam questions even contained blunt reference to the government’s anti-Semitic stance:

“A bomber aircraft on take-off carries 12 dozen bombs, each weighing 10 kilos. The aircraft takes off for Warsaw the international centre for Jewry. It bombs the town. On take-off with all bombs on board and a fuel tank containing 100 kilos of fuel, the aircraft weighed about 8 tons. When it returns from the crusade, there are still 230 kilos left. What is the weight of the aircraft when empty ?”

Other questions would also include areas the government wanted taught by teachers in the nation’s search for a master race:

“To keep a mentally ill person costs approximately 4 marks a day. There are 300,000 mentally ill people in care. How much do these people cost to keep in total? How many marriage loans of 1000 marks could be granted with this money?”

PE became a very important part of the curriculum. Hitler had stated that he wanted boys who could suffer pain……….“a young German must be as swift as a greyhound, as tough as leather, and as hard as Krupp’s steel.” PE took up 15% of a school’s weekly timetable. Boxing became compulsory for boys. Those who failed fitness tests could be expelled from their schools – and face humiliation from those who had passed such tests.

In 1937, pupils were give the choice of studying Religious Instructions or not.

For boys considered special, different school were created. Those who were physically fitter and stronger than the rest went to Adolf Hitler Schools where they were taught to be the future leaders of Germany. Six years of tough physical training took place and when the pupils from these schools left aged 18, they went to the army or to university. The very best pupils went to Order Castles. These were schools which took pupils to the limits of physical endurance. War games used live ammunition and pupils were killed at these schools. Those who graduated from the Order Castles could expect to attain a high position in the army or the SS.

From 1935 on, after the Nuremburg Laws, Jewish school children were not allowed to attend schools. The Nazi government claimed that a German pupil sitting next to a Jew could become contaminated by the experience.

The sole purpose of this educational structure was to create a future generation that was blindly loyal to Hitler and the Nazis.

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