There are two claims to address:
- Is the quote real?
- 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'.
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…
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…"
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.