29th August 1942, evening
Do we keep Belgium, France and Norway?—We must adopt the arrogance of Britain—Education and stuffed heads—The safety valve of military service—Once we were a people of energy.
Fundamentally speaking, Belgium, France and Norway are not our natural enemies. I have no desire to incorporate all Frenchmen in the Reich; those who dwell on our borders and with whom we have contact were all Germans four hundred years ago.
With our eighty-five million Germans, we have in the Reich itself a major part of the population of the Germanic races.
No other nation possesses so strong a proportion of these elements. It would then be a sorry business if, with such strength at our disposal, we failed to bring law and order to ancient Europe. We may have a hundred years of struggle before us; if so, all the better—it will prevent us from going to sleep! People sometimes say to me: “Be careful! You will have twenty years of guerrilla warfare on your hands!” I am delighted at the prospect! With a number of small armies we can continue to dominate a large number of peoples. In the future our divisions will not be in dull garrison towns like Lechfeld and Hommerburg, but will be sent to the Caucasus! Our lads have always shouted with joy at the prospect of service abroad, and I shall see to it that in the future they range the four corners of the world. Germany will remain in a state of perpetual alertness.
We will adopt the British attitude of arrogance. In the time of the old German Emperors, let it not be forgotten, the Kings of England were of little more account than the King of Denmark today. In the first war, we found, on going through the paybooks of prisoners of war, that many of them had served in the South African War, They had been all over the world, and for them the fatherland was their Regiment! With men like that, nothing is impossible!
For the future it will, I think, be essential to introduce a three-year period of military service; only by so doing can we ensure efficiency in the handling of new technical weapons. A three-year period will be a great advantage to those who later propose to adopt a learned profession, for it will give them ample time to forget all the muck that was jammed into their heads at school; they will have time to discard everything which will not be of future use to them, and that, in itself, is most valuable.
Everybody, for example, learns two or three foreign languages, which is a complete waste of time. The little one learns is not of the slightest use when one goes abroad. Everybody, I agree, should receive a basic education. But the whole method of instruction in secondary and higher schools is just so much nonsense. Instead of receiving a sound basic education, the student finds his head crammed with a mass of useless learning, and in the end is still ill-equipped to face life.
Lucky are those who have the happy knack of being able to forget most of what they have been taught. Those who cannot forget are ripe to become professors—a race apart. And that is not intended as a compliment! In 1933 things were still being taught in the higher educational establishments which had been proven by science to be false as long ago as 1899.
When I was a schoolboy, I did all I could to get out into the open air as much as possible—my school reports bear witness to that! In spite of this, I grew up into a reasonably intelligent young man, I developed along very normal lines, and I learnt a lot of things of which my schoolfellows learnt nothing. In short, our system of education is the exact opposite of that practised in the gymnasia of ancient days. The Greek of the golden age sought a harmonious education; we succeed only in producing intellectual monsters.
The primary task of education is to train the brain of the young. It is quite impossible to recognise the potential aspirations of a child of ten. In old days teachers strove always to seek out each pupil’s weak point, and by exposing and dwelling on it, they successfully killed the child’s self-confidence. Had they, on the contrary, striven to find the direction in which each pupil’s talents lay, and then concentrated on the development of those talents, they would have furthered education in its true sense. Instead, they sought mass-production by means of endless generalisations.
A child who could not solve a mathematical equation, they said, would do no good in life. It is a wonder that they did not prophesy that he would come to a bad and shameful end! Have things changed much today, I wonder? I am not sure, and many of the things I see around me incline me to the opinion that they have not. I was shown a questionnaire drawn up by the Ministry of the Interior, which it was proposed to put to people whom it was deemed desirable to sterilise. At least three-quarters of the questions asked would have defeated my own good mother. One I recall was: “Why does a ship made of steel float in the water?”
If this system had been introduced before my birth, I am pretty sure I should never have been born at all! Let us, for God’s sake, throw upon the windows and let the fresh air blow away nonsense of this nature! Put the young men into the Army, whence they will return refreshed and cleansed of eight years of scholastic slime!
In the olden days we were an energetic people; but gradually we developed into a people of poets and thinkers. Poets do not matter, for no one takes them seriously; but the world is greatly overburdened with “thinkers.” I keep a bust of Scharnhorst on my table; it is he who started our people back on the road to sanity. The world at large welcomed this Germany of poets and thinkers, because it knew how they sapped our virility.
Still, we have made progress in the field of education, in spite of having a pedant at the head of the Educational Department. With another in control, progress would have been more rapid.
Just think how in the old days a bit of paper could alter the course of one’s whole life! Look at my school reports—I got bad marks in German! My disgusting teacher had succeeded in giving me an intense dislike for my mother tongue! He asserted that I would never be capable of writing a decent letter! If this blundering little fool had given me a grade five, I should have been precluded from becoming a technician! Now, thank God, we have the Hitler Youth, where the child is judged on all his qualities, and not solely on his scholastic attainments; character is taken into consideration, the talent of leadership is encouraged, and every child has the legal right to show what he can do.
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