Someone Else's Textbooks: German Education 1945-2014

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In the 20th century, German education repeatedly transformed as the occupying Americans, Soviets, and western-dominated reunification governments used their control of the German secondary education system to create new definitions of what it meant to be German. In each case, the dominant political force established the paradigm for a new generation of Germans. The victors altered the German education system to ensure that their versions of history would be the prevailing narrative. In the American Occupation Zones from 1945-1949, this meant democratic initiatives; for the Soviet Zone in those same years, Marxist-Leninist pedagogy; and for the Bundesrepublik after reunification, integrated East and West German narratives. In practice, this meant succeeding generations of German students learned very different versions of history depending on the temporal and geographic space they inhabited, as each new prevailing regime supplanted the previous version of “Germanness” with its own.