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Pieter Slaman: German occupation lengthened mandatory education

Assistant professor and dual PhD candidate, Pieter Slaman writes in Binnenlands Bestuur about the fact that the German occupier lengthened the period of mandatory education in The Netherlands.

Seventy-five years ago, the Netherlands regained its freedom after five years of war and occupation. After these years there was a desire for a national cleanup. The Netherlands wanted rid itself of the entire German legacy, but not every measure was equally hated. Things that had been waiting for solutions for decades have been settled by the occupying powers.

The first example that Slaman cites concerns the extension of mandatory education. This was a long-held wish of the Dutch population and in 1942 the Reich's Commissioner Seyss-Inquart decided that there should be an eighth grade in primary education. This extended mandatory education up to and including the fourteenth year of life.


This extra grade remained after the liberation. In addition, the large-scale economic transition from agriculture and trade to industry and services also required massive and long-term participation in education. Slaman argues that more education was also a means that could bring discipline to the youth, which, according to many, had fallen victim to loose morals and mental poverty. The compulsory extra grade was the perfect way to encourage everyone to at least some form of further education.

Read the full article (in Dutch) in Binnenland Bestuur.


Photo: collection Haags Historisch Museum
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