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The Quotidianisation of the War in Everyday Life at German Schools During the First World War

Article on the transformation of schools into war institutions at the beginning of the First World War.

The outbreak of the First World War had a powerful impact on German schools. Undoubtedly, schools were institutions of socialisation that did offer support to the war. Indeed, research has shown that a specific “war pedagogy” made an aggressive propaganda possible in the classroom. This research usually emphasises the enthusiasm for war that swept up teachers and students in schools, as in the rest of the population, in the first few months of the war. However, this emphasis on the war frenzy obscures the fact that schools were not easily transformed into war institutions. Even if schools made a great effort to align themselves with the war effort, they remained independent associations, and soon after 1914, a quotidianisation (akin to routinisation) arose within the schools. To date, source materials that show this lack of influence of wartime propaganda on schools have only been analysed in terms of what they reveal about the deprivations and hardships of schools during the war. However, records from the schools also shed light on the everyday routines that continued during the war, and such evidence calls on scholars to reconsider the conditions in schools in the First World War. This article analyses selected records from the archive of the Research Library for the History of Education including school chronicles and exam protocols from the war years and shows that school life was often distinct from war enthusiasm. A more complex view is therefore advocated of the relationship between the First World War and the German school.

Scholz, J., & Berdelmann, K. (2016). Paedagogica Historica, 52 (1–2), 92–103.

last modified Apr 28, 2017