National Political Institutes of Education

National Political Institutes of Education (German: Nationalpolitische Erziehungsanstalten; officially abbreviated NPEA, commonly abbreviated Napola for Nationalpolitische Lehranstalt meaning National Political Institution of Teaching) were secondary boarding schools in Nazi Germany. They were founded as "community education sites" after the National Socialist seizure of power in 1933.

Mission

The main task of the NPEA was the "education of national socialists, efficient in body and soul for the service to the people and the state". The pupils attending these schools were meant to become the future leadership of Germany- political, administrative, and military. Until the beginning of World War II on 1 September 1939, the Napolas served as strong politically-accentuated elite preparatory schools within the framework of the general higher education system. During the war, they increasingly developed into preparatory schools for entry into the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS. In keeping with their unique nature, Napola schools operated separate from all other German secondary schools.

Overview

The first three NPEAs were founded in 1933 by the Minister of Education Bernhard Rust in Plön, Potsdam and Köslin. The schools responded directly to the Reich Ministry for Education, rather than to any state like regular schools. From 1936, the NPEAs were subordinated to the Inspector of the National Political Institutes of Education, SS-Obergruppenführer August Heissmeyer. From August 1940 forward, they were part of the Hauptamt Dienststelle Heissmeyer.[1] Going forward, the schools were under the direct influence of the SS, which supplied and supported them.[1] The goal of the schools was to train future leaders, and especially given the influence of the SS, it was hoped that graduates would choose a career in the SS or police.[1] By 1941 there were 30 NPEAs with 6,000 pupils enrolled in all of Nazi Germany. The Napola schools were gender-segregated, and only a few girls-only Napola schools existed. In 1942, out of the 33 Napola schools that were operating, just three were for girls. By the end of the war in 1945, 43 Napola schools were listed.[1]

For boys aged 10–14 years old, the uniform of the Deutsches Jungvolk, or German Youngfolk, was used. For those aged 14–18 years old, the uniform of the Hitler Youth was used instead. The rank structure used corresponded with that present in these two organizations. Heissmeyer considered introducing uniforms and ranks similar to the SS among pupils and teachers, but ultimately kept the Hitler Youth organizational structure.

Due to the highly-militaristic nature of Nazi Germany, life at the NPEAs was dominated by military discipline.[2] Only boys and girls considered to be "racially flawless" were admitted to the boarding schools. This meant that no children with poor hearing or vision were accepted. "Above-average intelligence" was also required, so that those looking to be admitted had to complete 8-day entrance exams.[3]

Life in boys' Napolas was highly-competitive, even brutal. It was extremely hard to get in and nearly as hard to stay. Approximately one fifth of all cadets failed to meet the required standards or were sent home because of injuries sustained in training accidents.

Napola schools were intensely political, deliberately working to make their cadets fervent believers in the Nazi regime and its ideology. This is reflected in the percentage of Jungmannen who eventually entered the SS- 13%, much higher than the 1.8% in the general German population.[4]

The National Socialist world view was considered paramount in Napola education. A prominent belief among the cadets themselves was that of "Endsieg" or final victory. This came into play as Germany's fortunes fell into a decline from which they would never recover, and Nazi leadership increasingly scraped the bottom of the barrel for manpower. The privileged students of the Napola schools were mobilized in the final months of the war, serving as poorly equipped and minimally trained but highly motivated infantry. Armed with little more than blind fanaticism, they nonetheless offered fierce resistance in many battles in the last months of the war. Casualties among them were extremely high.

School locations

CityOfficial TitleRegionFoundedFormer use
PlönNPEA PlönSchleswig-Holstein1 May 1933Stabila (Staatliche Bildungsanstalt, "National Education Facility")
PotsdamNPEA PotsdamBrandenburg26 May 1933Stabila
KöslinNPEA KöslinPomerania (today Poland)15 July 1933Stabila
Berlin-SpandauNPEA Berlin-SpandauBerlin30 January 1934Prussian Academy for Gymnastics; school for teachers
NaumburgNPEA NaumburgPrussian Province of Saxony15 March 1934Stabila/Military school
IlfeldNPEA IlfeldPrussian province of Hanover/Prussian Province of Saxony20 April 1934Cloisters/Seminary
WahlstattNPEA WahlstattSilesia (today Poland)9 April 1934Stabila
OraniensteinNPEA OraniensteinPrussian province of Hesse-Nassau1934Military school/Realgymnasium/Castle
StuhmNPEA StuhmEast Prussia (today Poland)1 October 1934Barracks
BallenstedtNPEA AnhaltAnhaltMay 1934City Gymnasium (secondary school)
Dresden-KlotzscheNPEA Dresden KlotzscheSaxony1 April 1934Landesschule
BacknangNPEA BacknangWürttemberg2 May 1934Teacher Seminary
BensbergNPEA BensbergPrussian Rhine Province1 June 1935Military school/Castle
SchulpfortaNPEA SchulpfortaPrussian Province of Saxony1 July 1935Landesschule zu Pforta (state school Pforta, currently Landesschule Pforta in Saxony-Anhalt)
RottweilNPEA RottweilWürttemberg1 April 1936Catholic Seminary
NeuzelleNPEA NeuzelleBrandenburg1934/1938Abbey (Stift), Boarding school for girls
Wien-TheresianumNPEA Wien-TheresianumVienna (Austria)13 March 1939Academy
Wien-BreitenseeNPEA Wien-BreitenseeVienna (Austria)13 March 1939Austrian Federal School (Bundeserziehungsanstalt) (Kommandogebäude Theodor Körner part of the Breitensee Barracks in Vienna)
TraiskirchenNPEA TraiskirchenLower Danube (Austria)13 March 1939Austrian Federal School (Bundeserziehungsanstalt)
Ploschkowitz (Ploskovice)NPEA SudetenlandSudetenland (today Czech Republic)10 October 1940Ploskovice Castle
Reisen (Rydzyna)NPEA WarthelandWarthegau (today Poland)1940Polish boarding school for boys in Rydzyna Castle
LobenNPEA Loben(East-) Upper Silesia (today Poland)1 April 1941School for children with speech impediments
PutbusNPEA RügenPomerania1 September 1941Pädagogium (Stift)
ReichenauNPEA ReichenauBaden1941Hospice
St WendelNPEA St WendelSaarland1 September 1941International School of the Steyler Mission
Weierhof bei MarnheimNPEA am DonnersbergBavaria (Saar Palatinate)1941Gau-Oberschule (Reich regional secondary school?)
Sankt Paul im LavanttalNPEA Spanheim in KärntenCarinthia (Austria)1941Benedictine Abbey
VorauNPEA GottweigStyria (Austria)January 1943Augustine Abbey
SeckauNPEA SeckauStyria (Austria)1941Benedictine Abbey (Stift)
RufachNPEA RufachAlsace (today France)October 1940Hospice
HaselünneNPEA EmslandPrussian province of Hanover17 October 1941Cloister/Seminary for the Ursuline Order
NeubeuernNPEA NeubeuernBavariaMay 1942Castle and state boarding school
St VeitNPEA St VeitSloveniaJuly 1942Catholic Seminary and Gymnasium
MokritzNPEA MokritzStyria (Austria)1942Castle
AchernNPEA AchernBadenAugust 1943The Illenau Sanatorium and Hospice
Kuttenberg (Kutná Hora)NPEA BöhmenProtectorate of Bohemia and Moravia22 April 1944Jesuit college and barracks
Raudnitz an der Elbe (Roudnice nad Labem)NPEA RaudnitzProtectorate of Bohemia and MoraviaJuly 1944Roudnice Castle

Well-known former students

Well-known former students of National Political Institutes of Education include:

See also

Notes

  1. Yerger 1997, p. 20.
  2. (in German)Kleinhans, Bernd:Das Erbe der NAPOLA - von Christian Schneider in shoa.de. Retrieved October 1, 2006.
  3. Nationalpolitische Erziehungsanstalten in Austrian Lexicon. Retrieved October 1, 2006.
  4. Die Elite-Schule der Nazis

References

  • Yerger, Mark C. (1997). Allgemeine-SS: The Commands, Units, and Leaders of the General SS. Atglen, PA: Schiffer. ISBN 0-7643-0145-4.
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