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German Education Suffered Little From Revolution Says Correspondent-Absence of System Kept Education Intact


In a recent article in Scribner's Magazine, which is reprinted in part below, S. M. Bouton, foreign correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, outlines the conditions of post-Revolution universities in Germany and the way in which student support has drifted from the Internationalists to the Imperialists. Mr. Bouton, who is well informed as regards the higher educational system in Germany, has written his article as a timely supplement to the recent student conference held at Princeton on the World Court and the student federation which grew out of that gathering.

"That the universities suffered less from the 1918 upheaval than did other institutions is probably due, not merely to the fact that all classes of Germans have for centuries had an almost superstitious reverence for education, but also to the structure of the universities. The American university student is astonished to find, when he enters a German university, that there are almost no fixed regulations for a course of study, virtually no control and no restrictions on his life and work. Every student formulates his own course of study, and he may attend lectures or not as he wishes. Hence the revolution found no set scheme or plan to overthrow. The instructors kept on lecturing and the students kept on studying quite in the old manner. . .

Sports Gaining Ground

"Another result of the improverishment of many classes of the people is seen in the large increase in the number of students who elect the so-called "bread courses," that is, studies fitting them for earning money. Before the war the majority of German students had the ambition to acquire a broad general education first of all. Today, however, most philosophical faculties show a smaller registration, while medicine, law, and political economy are overrun--the two last-named because they furnish a preparation for business life or for government positions with secure tenure, certain pay, and retirement pensions. . . .

Academic sports, which were all but unknown before the war, are gaining ground, but the participation is still minimal. Something is being done in the way of competitive field and track contests, but it is unlikely that these will ever assume more than a fraction of the importance attached to them in America. The Germans of the better class still regard sport as a means to an end, not as an end in itself. In other words, small stress is laid on competitive contests and record-making.

Better Politics for German Colleges

"If this article concerned itself with American universities it would be fairly complete at this point, for it has already dealt with all important phases of academic life as this is known in America. But in Germany those phases are almost overshadowed by another aspect of the situation--the political and psychological. No one can approach an understanding of the situation in Germany unless he realizes at the very outset that politics--politics of an intransigent and bitter variety of which the average American has no conception--intrudes itself dominatingly into every department of life, including even the exact sciences, and divides people into warring groups which combine more or less roughly into nationalists and patriots on the one side and internationalists and enemies of patriotism on the other.

"Among American ideals not the least are patriotism, service to the state, devotion to one's native land, pride of race, self-respect, and the readiness at all times to make the supreme sacrifice for the preservation of the state. A considerable part of the Germans, probably some forty per cent, reject these ideals, but they are firmly held and propagated by the overwhelming majority of the German university students. Internationalism, Socialism, Bolshevism, Syndicalism, Paciflism--all these new isms of the last century have affected only an inconsiderable minority of the young men and women who make up the German student body....

Cling to Old Flag

"But these German students of today, while they still wear the colors that have been adopted as the official flag of Germany, cling politically to the old black-white-red of the Empire. They are mainly haters of Socialists, pacifists, and all internationalists; patriots and "reactionaries." At the annual students' congress held in Berlin in August of the present year, the republican students formed only a trifling majority....

"This conversion of originally republican and democratic students to the precise opposite, anomalous and ununderstandable though it may appear on the suface, represents in reality an almost compulsory development. It is the sum of reactions, in part against domestic, in part against foreign, factors....

"The other deciding factor that has turned the students away from internationalism and hence away from the republic, whose most ardent supporters are mainly internationalists and pacifists, has been the unwise treatment of that republic by the former enemies, and above all by France and Poland. The "passionate consciousness of race and nation" so natural to educated young men and women has been outraged too many times. The invasion of the Ruhr was a tremendous victory for all those Germans whom Americans in general regard as "reactionaries," the shooting down of German workmen at Essen at Easter time in 1923 was another, and every pinprick, big or small, has reduced still more the strength of the parties of the Left in Germany. Without the help of France, there would probably still be Socialists in the German cabinet and General von Hindenburg would most likely not be President.

"A prominent professor writes me:

"'The fact that the duelling organizations have as large a membership as before the war is, to judge by my observations, in large part due to the education in nationalism received by the whole German people through the excesses of French imperialism, which unfortunately were also permitted by other Entente states.

"The outlook for any speedy conversion of these students to political democracy in the extreme form propagated by the international Left is small. Rather, it does not exist. Future development is almost certain to strengthen the present trend, and this especally because of the fact that the recently organized "Hochschulring deutscher Art" has became a powerful factor among both graduates and undergraduates. This organization, which embraces all students of German tongue, not merely in Germany, but also in Bohemia, Austria, Danzig, etc., is growing rapidly. Its aim is 'to develop loyalty, uprightness, nobility of character, and the ability to defend ourselves, our honor, and our liberty.'

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