German schools before the NAZIs seized power in 1933 has perhaps the highest standards in the world in mathamatics instrution. We suspect that standards declined during the Third Reich, although we do not yet have actual data to support this. We do know that math, like other subjects, was used to promote the NAZI racial idelogy and world view. The NAZI policies on these issues would be postulated as given while the children worked on the math.
German schools before the NAZIs seized power in 1933 has perhaps the highest standards in the world in mathamatics instrution. We suspect that standards declined during the Third Reich, although we do not yet have actual data to support this.
Some subjects such as math were not as eaily subject to NAZI ideological contamination. That does not mean that the NAZIs did not ty. One German educator explained in The National Socialist Essence of Education that mathematics was "Aryan spiritual property; .. an expression of the nordic fighting spirit, of the nordic struggle for the supremacy of the world..." [Hirsch, p. 119]
Math instruction during the Third Reich was a compilation of NAZI ideology and actual teaching of numerical skills. Although math was important to understand, numbers and business were closely associated with the Jew. Math problems took a NAZI flavor, touching upon "racial hygene", the Jews, Lebensraum, and eugenics. Some of the problems also touched upon economics. Here the NAZI ideology was more complicatd. Too much enthusiasm toward capitalism would not be looked upon well. The NAZI party had workers and soclist in its name. Party propaganda extolded the German laborer. At the same time free trade unions were ot allowed. Important industrialists were major NAZI contributors. Industrial concerns like Krup not only were not broken up, but benefitted from Government contracts. Once the War began, they wereprivided free slave labor.
The NAZI policies on these issues would be postulated as given while the children worked on the math. Throughout math textbooks problems such as these can be found. Youth studying and solving these problems were hoped to respond accordingly, either seeing the need for growth of the German population, the elimination of the Jews, eugenics programs, Lebensraum, or other NAZI concept.
Race: Math problems might be presented with racial connotations: "How many children must a family produce in order to secure the quantitative continuance of the German Volk?" [Koch, p. 174.]
Eugenics: Math problems might also be prsented touching upon eugenics and "racial hygene": "A mentally-handicapped person costs the public 4 Reichsmark per day, a cripple 5.50 Reichsmark and a convicted criminal 3.50 Reichsmark. Cautious estimates state that within the boundaries of the German Reich 300,000 persons are being cared for in public mental institutions. How many marriage loans at 1,000 Reichsmark per couple could annually be financed from the funds allocated to institutions?" [Koch, p. 174.]
Jews: A favored target were the Jews. One problem postulates, "The Jews are aliens in Germany--in 1933 there were 66,060,000 inhabitants in the German Reich, of whom 499,682 were Jews. What is the per cent of aliens?"[Hirsch, p. 119]
Warfare: Some math problems mixed different NAZI concepts, like this one, "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?" One wonders if, when the Allied bombing campaign on Germany began in 1942, if any of the children remembered questions like this.
As part of an exchange agreement Kodi and Crystal have provided us access to their research.
Hirsch, Herbert. GenocideE and the Politics of Memory
(Chapel Hill & London: University of North Carolina Press, 1995),119.
Koch, H. W. The Hitler Youth: Origins and Development 1922-1945. Stein and Day: New York, 1975.
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