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On How Hitler Stopped Homeschooling they say Hitler said this:

“The youth of today is ever the people of tomorrow. For this reason we have set before ourselves the task of inoculating our youth with the spirit of this community of the people at a very early age, at an age when human beings are still unperverted and therefore unspoiled. This Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the future, upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.”

– HITLER, 1937

What I am asking is:

  1. Did Hitler actually say the above quote?
  2. In context, did it have any relationship to homeschooling?
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    Cleaned up the question so it does not basically assume its answer in the title. – Sklivvz Jul 21 at 6:08
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Yup! He did mention it. Take a look at this book : When a Nation Forgets God: 7 Lessons We Must Learn from Nazi Germany .

There's this story about a German homeschooling family that was accosted by armed German policemen. Their children were taken from them for the crime of teaching their own children in their own home.

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    The point is that "we know better" or "we believe different" is not an excuse for breaking the law, which is that your children have to attend a recognized school. There are exceptions, e.g. for medical reasons, but "different beliefs" is not one of them, and looking at those who raise the loudest hue and cry about this, I think that's just fine. – DevSolar Jul 19 at 13:47
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    @LangLangC: We're on a very fine line here. As with many other questions here on Skeptics, there's the question of context vs. "just the question". Between the source and the second paragraph ("accosting"?), the context of this A gave a statement which I was loath to let pass uncommented. You disagree, I accept that. – DevSolar Jul 19 at 15:06
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    @LangLangC: I will freely admit that German laws are stricter than others, but I start disagreeing when you point squarely at 1938 as a (sole?) reason. That's a jump I am not prepared to make at this point. – DevSolar Jul 19 at 15:20
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    Abusing this German-specific fact as a Godwin pro-home-schooling in other countries is of course quite laughable still. It seems that that is the main concern here. But that doesn't pertain centrally to the Q at hand. That 'context' should be part of an A. But not its sole 'confession'. (And 1938 is not the 'sole' reason. Am a bit of a loss what srsc & refs people need to find and read in my A at this point. + you know: length ;) – LаngLаngС Jul 19 at 15:20
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    for the crime of teaching their own children in their own home. You mean for the crime of not sending their own children to school, right? – SantiBailors Jul 21 at 6:24
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It is entirely possible that Hitler said something of the sort, although it is rather a stretch to say it is about homeschooling.

The law making school attendance compulsory was actually passed in 1919 as part of the Weimar constitution. Wikipedia: The Weimar Constitution

Section 4: Education and School

Articles 142 to 150 guided the operation of educational institutions within the Reich. Public education was provided by state institutions and regulated by the government, with cooperation between the Reich, the province, and the local community. Primary school was compulsory, with advanced schooling available to age 18 free of charge.

The constitution also provided for private schooling, which was likewise regulated by the government. In private schools operated by religious communities, religious instruction could be taught in accordance with the religious community's principles.

This of course isn't about outlawing homeschooling at all. It is about requiring children to receive an education rather than being put to work. It has the side effect of outlawing homeschooling because being at home wasn't the same as being at a state-recognised school with qualified teachers. But the idea of homeschooling, certainly in the sense of the modern US use of the term, wasn't on anyone's radar in Germany in 1919.

Although the Weimar constitution obviously isn't in force any more, the requirement of children to attend a state recognised school has remained continuously since 1919.

What did happen in 1937, and involved Hitler, was the creation of the Adolf Hitler Schools. Only a few of these were ever set up, and their goals fairly clearly involved indoctrinating students in Nazi ideology, although the students who went to these schools were selected from among Hitler Youth members who had to match up to various physical requirements (Hitler's Aryan master race kind of thing).

The quote from Hitler in the question is certainly plausible, and consistent with his attempts to use schools to indoctrinate support for Nazi ideology, but it is nothing to do with homeschooling.

Also note that many countries (in Europe and worldwide) have a mandatory requirement for children to attend official schools, which can be interpreted as "banning homeschooling" if you want to look at it through that lens. To pick out the example of Germany, and incorrectly tie it to Hitler (rather than the 1919 constitution) looks an awful lot like trying to create guilt by association.

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    Also to add: the "Reichsschulpflichtgesetz" was put in place in 1938. Its aim wasn't a ban of homeschooling (that already existed since 1919) but to enforce national socialist ideology in all schools. – Jan Jul 18 at 8:49
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    38 is the date – thus your parts about 19 is a bit and 37 is entirely irrelevant – but tagesspiegel.de/wissen/… – LаngLаngС Jul 18 at 9:22
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    @LangLangC: Hm... I feel that not including the '19 bit would be painting the whole answer in a rather different light. There were reasons to require children to attend a recognized school prior to Nazi rule, there were (more sinister) reasons during Nazi rule, and there are (IMHO) reasons to require it after Nazi rule as well. Insofar I disagree with the Tagesspiegel article, and welcome the '19 part. (Which, I note, is in your answer as well. ;-) ) – DevSolar Jul 18 at 13:41
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    @DevSolar This A is misleading. In '19/'20 exceptions were possible, in '38 not. In Weimar the "will of parents" played a role (Art 146,2), 38 eliminated that in favour of NS-loyalty by declaring reichsdeutsche Schulen as the institution. The '37 AH-schools are irrelevant to the Q, the quote asked for just judged plausible without ref and the rest filled with political commentary. – LаngLаngС Jul 18 at 15:39
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    @LangLangC: The political commentary of the Q ("...this law has never been repealed, and is still in force, leading to horrific consequences...") is what makes some context necessary. It's not Hitler's law, he modified it for his purposes. And it's not Hitler's law that's still in effect today. I consider that essential. – DevSolar Jul 19 at 5:22
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True.

There are two claims to address:

  1. Is the quote real?
  2. Does it apply to home-schooling?

Hitler did say that. It does also apply to home-schooling. It was the general principle of national-socialist education plans. He said the quote in a more general context than for example as a reply to 'what do you think of home-schooling.' In that sense, Hitler did produce the quote, not specifically about home-schooling, but about schooling in Germany in general.

And after producing that quote the nazis indeed knocked up a notch on compulsory education. After more than 300 years of regional compulsory education laws the Weimar republic made that uniform for the entire Reich in 1919/20, while still allowing some rarely used loopholes for private home education. In 1938 a new law was enacted that closed these explicit loopholes and effectively banned all home-schooling. This law from 1938 itself is no longer effective but all subsequent laws in Germany concerning schooling follow it in spirit – also on the matter of 'no home-schooling'.

For 1:

DOCUMENT 2454-PS

OBSERVATIONS BY HITLER CONCERNING AND' ADDRESSED TO THE HITLER YOUTH, FROM HIS SPEECHES OF 1 MAY 1937, 20 FEBRUARY 1938, AND 1 MAY 1938 (EXHIBIT USA-676)

Aus : Völkischer Beobachter, Berliner Ausgabe vom 2. Mai 1937, Nr. 122, Seite 6, Spalte 4, Völkischer Beobachter, Süddeutsche Ausgabe vom 21. Febr. 1938, Nr. 52, Seite 3, Spalte 6, und vom 2. Mai 1938, Nr. 122, Seite 2, Spalte 6.

Denn die Jugend von heute ist immer das Volk von morgen! Deshalb haben wir es uns zur Aufgabe gestellt, unserer Jugend den Geist der Volksgemeinschaft schon frühzeitig einzuimpfen, in dem Alter, in dem die Menschen noch unverbildet und damit unverdorben sind. ...

Dieses Reich steht, und es baut sich weiter auf auf seiner Jugend! Und dieses neue Reich wird seine Jugend niemandem geben, sondern sie selbst in seine Erziehung und in seine Bildung nehmen!

–– Trial of the Major War Criminals – The International Military Tribunal Nuremberg 14 November 1945 – 1 October 1946, Volume XXX, Nuremberg, 1948. p545 (archive.org)

Although I'd translate that as

Because the youth of today is always the people of tomorrow! That is why we have set ourselves the task of inoculating our youth with the spirit of the national community at an early age, at the age when people are still untouched and thus unspoilt. ...

Alternative attestation from 1938, and from 1987 making the direct connection to schooling obvious…

For 2:

The Reichschulpflichtgesetz was enacted in 1938. While Compulsory education was indeed uniformly introduced for the entire country by the earlier Weimar constitution in 1919, it still allowed explicitly exceptions. The law from 1938 eliminated these exceptions and this law did therefore indeed effectively ban home-schooling.

Adolf Hitler führte das Verbot des Hausunterrichts 1938 aus leicht durchschaubaren Gründen ein. Er wollte keine Bereiche entstehen lassen, die der staatlichen Kontrolle entzogen wären.

Adolf Hitler introduced the ban on home schooling in 1938 for easily understandable reasons. He did not want to allow areas to develop that were beyond the control of the state.
–– Dieter Lenzen [Präsident der Freien Universität]: "Heimunterricht muss erlaubt sein", Tagesspiegel, 25.05.2009,

By coincident this could very well be part of the well known speech in Reichenberg 1938 that reads "and they shall never be free again…"


Historical background:

The Weimarer Schulordnung (Weimar school law) from 1619 was the first one to mention the possibility that secular authorities could exert pressure on those who neglect their school attendance. However, there are good reasons to assume that school rules until the 19th century were predominantly only declarations of intent. In most of the areas, they failed to put compulsory school attendance into effect (Herrlitz, Hopf and Titze, 1998: 52–53; Mors, 1986: 151–152).

Until 1920, Germany had compulsory education which could be fulfilled by private tuition or home education (Avenarius & Heckel, 2000: 450).

The first obligatory school attendance arose in the Weimar Republic (Reichsgrundschulgesetz). The law was enacted to establish more equality of opportunities. All children should receive some education at school, and children of all classes should be taught together for the first four years.

But even this law included a small exceptional rule which was often used to maintain the possibility of private tuition (Nave, 1980: 141).

The law regarding compulsory school attendance from 1938 (Reichsschulpflichtgesetz) was the first general regulation in the German Reich without exceptions and with criminal consequences in case of contraventions (Habermalz, 2001: 218).

This law had considerable influence on the formation of the contemporary laws relating to compulsory school attendance in the German federal states after World War II.

At present, school attendance is compulsory in all German federal states.
–– Thomas Spiegler: "Home Education versus Compulsory Schooling in Germany: The Contribution of Robert K. Merton’s Typology of Adaptation to an Understanding of the Movement and the Debate About its Legitimacy", in: Paula Rothermel (ed): "International Perspectives on Home Education. Do We Still Need Schools", Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke, 2015.


The Weimar laws prescribed in the constitution Art 146,2 that the will of parents should be considered and the Weimar schooling compromise of 1920 mentions in paragraph 4 that private home tuition is possible in exceptional cases if people applied for that.

The Reichsschulpflichtgesetz of '38 eliminates any mention of home education and declares:

§ 1. Compulsory Education. In the German Reich there is general compulsory education. It ensures the education and instruction of German youth in the spirit of National Socialism. All children and young people of German nationality who have their residence or habitual abode in Germany are subject to it.

(2) Compulsory schooling shall be fulfilled by attending a German school. The school supervisory authority decides on exceptions.

§ 12. Compulsory schooling. Children and adolescents who do not fulfil the obligation to attend primary or vocational school shall be compulsorily admitted to school. The police can be called upon to help.

As the law makes clear, in the new phrasing there was still talk of 'exceptions' but they weren't explicated and in practice there weren't any for German kids, but only for Jews and other 'undesirables'. As you might have noticed, there are no longer any applications possible for exceptions, they were just decided. Note that in theory homeschooling was legally possible before and yet in practice really rare.

As a sidenote, the 1938/1941 law was indeed 'not repealed'. But the law itself lost it's enforceability in 1945 through mysterious circumstances and was replaced in 1946 by Soviet command in the East and 1947 in the West on command of the other allies. In both German states after 1949 home-schooling was kept illegal, but the new laws that still enforced schooling no longer ensured a national-socialist education…

The latest state to explicitly repeal the Reichsschulpflichtgesetz of 1938 even in a de-nazified modified form was Northrhine-Westfalia in 1966 (PDF).

For Saxony it was regulated in 1919 that homeschooling would be allowed for single families (not groups):

Übergangsgesetz für das Volksschulwesen (vom 22. Juli 1919)
§3 Die Verpflichtung zum Besuche der Volksschule entfällt, wenn der Erziehungspflichtige nachweist, daß ein Kind anderweit ausreichend unterrichtet wird.

§6 Privatunterricht im Sinne von § 15 Abs. 1 Satz 1 des Volksschulgesetzes vom 26. April 1873 ist nur insoweit zulässig, als er sich im Hausunterricht für Kinder einer einzelnen Familie handelt. Zur Teilnahme nicht zur Familie gehöriger Kinder an solchem Unterricht bedarf es der Genehmigung der obersten Schulbehörde.

Transitional law for the elementary school system (of 22 July 1919) §3 The obligation to attend primary school does not apply if the parent or guardian can prove that a child has been sufficiently educated elsewhere.

§6 Private instruction within the meaning of § 15 (1) sentence 1 of the Volksschulgesetz of 26 April 1873 is permissible only to the extent that it is in home instruction for children of a single family. The participation of children not belonging to the family in such instruction requires the approval of the supreme school authority.

Nicely collated laws regarding the topic in Andreas Reichel: "Die sächsische Schulreform in der Weimarer Republik", Dissertation, Technische Universität Dresden, 2014. (PDF)

How these laws from '18/'19, '38, and later, were to be read, and how they are to be read explains a judge in VGH Baden-Württemberg, Urteil vom 18.06.2002 - 9 S 2441/01. Meaning: in current jurisprudence current laws are still interpreted in light of the formulation and intent of 'the law-giver' and his law from 1938, especially regarding people wanting to homeschool their children:

"The history of the regulation shows that it was not meant to be like this. The sentence can already be found in the original version of the Law on the Unification and Order of Schools - SchVOG - of 05.05.1964 (GBl.S. 235), there as § 45 para. 1 sentence 1. The federal state legislator of 1964 wanted to take over the regulation unchanged from the Reichsschulpflichtgesetz - RSchPflG - of 06.07.1938 (RGBl. I p. 799)." (German Law Gazette I p. 799).


Summary: It was "Hitler's quote" and "Hitler's law", as it was completely newly enacted in 38. The content of that 1938 law concerning home education was stricter than previous Weimar-laws. In current Federal Republic laws that part (or that intensity) is effectively still in effect. Compare the quotes from actual laws (of '19/'20 & '38) and later (West-) German laws. The laws after 1938 were all more authoritarian than Weimar-laws, whether 'thanks-to' or just after Hitler. In the vast majority of cases the 1938 law was the model for later laws.
The earlier laws before 1938 gradually intensified "Schulpflicht" while "Schulzwang" (including 'no home-school exceptions') only came with Hitler. And Schulzwang remains in the law-books of Germany. That is not the only aspect of continuity from Nazi-law to contemporary German law. But the 'zero exceptions to Schulzwang' was even criticised by the UN Human Rights Council in 2007 (Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Vernor Muñoz - Mission to Germany, alternative link).

Should doubts remain, read

–– Albrecht Mors: "Die Entwicklung der Schulpflicht in Deutschland" Dissertation, Universität Tübingen, 1986. (esp p252)
–– Tobias Handschell: "Die Schulpflicht vor dem Grundgesetz: Geschichte der Schulpflicht und ihre verfassungsrechtliche Bewertung vor dem Hintergrund des sogenannten Homeschooling", Dissertation, Universität Tübingen, 2012.

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    Oh, this would make for a wonderful discussion, both on the topic itself (allowing homeschooling vs. having an eye on children's development / socialization), and on a philosophical level (freedom to be better, freedom to be worse, the morality of control and the morality of the ones doing the controling)... sometimes I wish there were a forum attached to stacks... :-D – DevSolar Jul 18 at 13:38
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    It might be nice to cite the actual gooey loophole of 1920, if only to show that it was prone to being forced open or closed by the day-to-day application of said law, it wasn't simply a 'homeschool if you like'-paragraph. "Privatunterricht für einzelne Kinder oder gemeinsamer Privatunterricht für Kinder mehrerer Familien, die sich zu diesem Zwecke zusammenschließen, darf an Stelle des Besuchs der Grundschule nur ausnahmsweise in besonderen Fällen zugelassen werden." in short: 'homeschoolingesque stuff may only be allowed on a case-by-case basis in special circumstances.' A very elastic clause – bukwyrm Jul 18 at 15:11
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    @DevSolar There is a "forum" attached to stacks, it's called Skeptics Chat. – gerrit Jul 18 at 15:17
  • @bukwyrm Thx. Although the A grows yet again with that, going ad fontes is an excellent idea. – LаngLаngС Jul 18 at 15:41
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    @gerrit: In the end, it would change nothing, even if it wouldn't devolve into a shouting match. My faith in the internet making the world a better place for all has died away long ago. ;-) – DevSolar Jul 18 at 16:43

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