The Nazis were inspired by the great British schools to train their elites

The work of historian Helen Roche reveals that the Nazis increased their exchanges with great British schools before the start of the Second World War. They would have been inspired by their methods to train the future elites of the regime.

Between 1934 and 1939, exchange programs were established between British universities (Eton, Harrow, Westminster …) and “Napola”, Nazi boarding schools intended to train senior officials of the administration and the Army of the Third Reich.

August Heissmeyer, chief inspector of the Napola, was in admiration of the British education which, according to him, knew how to “forge the character” of the pupils. “The aim of the program was for the students and management of Napola to learn how things are done in England and then use this knowledge to improve their own educational techniques,” explained Helen Roche in an article in the Guardian.

Recruitment boarding schools

Created in 1933, the Napolas recruited young German schoolchildren selected on racial grounds. Students who went to England to study were considered “cultural ambassadors” of “New Germany”.

Former residents have testified to difficult and even humiliating teaching conditions. One of the entrance tests consisted in making pupils who could not swim jump into the Baltic Sea from a diving board.

These German-British exchanges are characteristic of the policy of appeasement between the wars, during which part of Europe showed a certain tolerance towards the Nazi regime.

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