National Political Institutes of Education

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Students at the entrance of NPEA Vienna-Theresianum in Vienna, 1940
NPEA Student Armbinde (armband)
Patch for uniforms called "Gaudreieck" from school location "Adolf-Hitler-Schule Pirna" in Sonnenstein castle
Students attending a physics lesson in a Napola school

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[edit]

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[edit]

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]

The official descriptor (rank) of a Napola cadet was “Jungmann” (plural "Jungmannen"), used similarly to the term “Cadet” in military schools in other countries. Napola cadets were between 13 and 18 years of age.[citation needed] 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.

Library stamp of NPEA Vienna-Theresianum

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[edit]

City Official Title Region Founded Former use
Plön NPEA Plön Schleswig-Holstein 1 May 1933 Stabila (Staatliche Bildungsanstalt, "National Education Facility")
Potsdam NPEA Potsdam Brandenburg 26 May 1933 Stabila
Köslin NPEA Köslin Pomerania (today Poland) 15 July 1933 Stabila
Berlin-Spandau NPEA Berlin-Spandau Berlin 30 January 1934 Prussian Academy for Gymnastics; school for teachers
Naumburg NPEA Naumburg Prussian Province of Saxony 15 March 1934 Stabila/Military school
Ilfeld NPEA Ilfeld Prussian province of Hanover/Prussian Province of Saxony 20 April 1934 Cloisters/Seminary
Wahlstatt NPEA Wahlstatt Silesia (today Poland) 9 April 1934 Stabila
Oranienstein NPEA Oranienstein Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau 1934 Military school/Realgymnasium/Castle
Stuhm NPEA Stuhm East Prussia (today Poland) 1 October 1934 Barracks
Ballenstedt NPEA Anhalt Anhalt May 1934 City Gymnasium (secondary school)
Dresden-Klotzsche NPEA Dresden Klotzsche Saxony 1 April 1934 Landesschule
Backnang NPEA Backnang Württemberg 2 May 1934 Teacher Seminary
Bensberg NPEA Bensberg Prussian Rhine Province 1 June 1935 Military school/Castle
Schulpforta NPEA Schulpforta Prussian Province of Saxony 1 July 1935 Landesschule zu Pforta (state school Pforta, currently Landesschule Pforta in Saxony-Anhalt)
Rottweil NPEA Rottweil Württemberg 1 April 1936 Catholic Seminary
Neuzelle NPEA Neuzelle Brandenburg 1934/1938 Abbey (Stift), Boarding school for girls
Wien-Theresianum NPEA Wien-Theresianum Vienna (Austria) 13 March 1939 Academy
Wien-Breitensee NPEA Wien-Breitensee Vienna (Austria) 13 March 1939 Austrian Federal School (Bundeserziehungsanstalt) (Kommandogebäude Theodor Körner part of the Breitensee Barracks in Vienna)
Traiskirchen NPEA Traiskirchen Lower Danube (Austria) 13 March 1939 Austrian Federal School (Bundeserziehungsanstalt)
Ploschkowitz (Ploskovice) NPEA Sudetenland Sudetenland (today Czech Republic) 10 October 1940 Ploskovice Castle
Reisen (Rydzyna) NPEA Wartheland Warthegau (today Poland) 1940 Polish boarding school for boys in Rydzyna Castle
Loben NPEA Loben (East-) Upper Silesia (today Poland) 1 April 1941 School for children with speech impediments
Putbus NPEA Rügen Pomerania 1 September 1941 Pädagogium (Stift)
Reichenau NPEA Reichenau Baden 1941 Hospice
St Wendel NPEA St Wendel Saarland 1 September 1941 International School of the Steyler Mission
Weierhof bei Marnheim NPEA am Donnersberg Bavaria (Saar Palatinate) 1941 Gau-Oberschule (Reich regional secondary school?)
Sankt Paul im Lavanttal NPEA Spanheim in Kärnten Carinthia (Austria) 1941 Benedictine Abbey
Vorau NPEA Gottweig Styria (Austria) January 1943 Augustine Abbey
Seckau NPEA Seckau Styria (Austria) 1941 Benedictine Abbey (Stift)
Rufach NPEA Rufach Alsace (today France) October 1940 Hospice
Haselünne NPEA Emsland Prussian province of Hanover 17 October 1941 Cloister/Seminary for the Ursuline Order
Neubeuern NPEA Neubeuern Bavaria May 1942 Castle and state boarding school
St Veit NPEA St Veit Slovenia July 1942 Catholic Seminary and Gymnasium
Mokritz NPEA Mokritz Styria (Austria) 1942 Castle
Achern NPEA Achern Baden August 1943 The Illenau Sanatorium and Hospice
Kuttenberg (Kutná Hora) NPEA Böhmen Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia 22 April 1944 Jesuit college and barracks
Raudnitz an der Elbe (Roudnice nad Labem) NPEA Raudnitz Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia July 1944 Roudnice Castle

Well-known former students[edit]

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

In Popular Culture[edit]

  • The Ogre (German: Der Unhold), released in 1996, features a simple-minded man who becomes a member of staff at a NaPolA school, located at the fictional Kaltenborn Castle in East Prussia.
  • Before the Fall, a film set in an NPEA. It is also known as Napola, and was released in 2004. It was directed by Dennis Gansel and starred Tom Schilling and Max Riemelt. Gansel's grandfather had been Napola student. The movie is notable for its accurate depiction of the harsh and highly-political nature of life at the NaPolA schools. A description at the end of the film that states that approximately half of the 15,000 boys enrolled at NapolA schools were killed when they were mobilized as a last-ditch resistance in the last months of the war.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d 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[edit]

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

External links[edit]