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6 - School of Hard Knocks

Illegal Education

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 January 2022

Jadwiga Biskupska
Affiliation:
Sam Houston State University
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Summary

Chapter 6, “School of Hard Knocks: Illegal Education,” considers the second great intelligentsia occupation success: illegal underground education. From fall 1939, the Nazi General Government administration closed schools, universities, seminaries, and conservatories that served Polish students, arresting and imprisoning teachers and professors. This was a deliberate German attempt to control Poles in the long term and ensure German control over Lebensraum in the Polish space, since Nazi plans intended to utilize Poles as unskilled laborers and wanted to deprive them of education and the opportunity for social advancement. Warsaw University and city high schools re-formed underground, and “illegal” education taught pupils from childhood into their twenties. Studying initiated young people into underground political conspiracy, exposing them to great danger. It also kept teachers and professors employed and trained a new Polish intelligentsia to replace those killed in the genocidal campaigns of 1939-1940. As occupation continued, teaching and studying increasingly became the purview of Polish women as more and more Polish men turned to violent resistance. Despite draconian punishments, underground education was one of the most important successes of the occupation.

Type
Chapter
Information
Survivors
Warsaw under Nazi Occupation
, pp. 169 - 191
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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