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US prep faculties held scholar exchanges with elite Nazi academies

Helen Roche does not paintings for, seek advice from, personal stocks in or get hold of investment from any employer or company that would advantage from this newsletter, and has disclosed no applicable affiliations past their educational appointment.
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In the summer of 1935, the Nazi government hijacked a scholar exchange software among leading American and German colleges.
The International Schoolboy Fellowship, because it changed into acknowledged, become first set up with the aid of Walter Huston Lillard, the headmaster of Tabor Academy in Massachusetts, in 1927 to foster higher members of the family among all nations thru schoolboy trade. Participating international locations covered the U.S., Germany, France and Great Britain.
Lillard believed “that misunderstandings and quarrels among nations frequently rise up via long-distance misjudgments,” and that “the improvement of contacts … will generally tend to promote cordial relations and lasting friendships.”
But by way of 1935, officers in charge of the Third Reich’s new elite colleges, the National Political Education Institutes, or Napolas, had plans to appropriate the alternate application to promote National Socialist pursuits.
These Nazi institutions had been modeled on elite British public faculties, the Prussian cadet corps and historical Sparta. The schools knowledgeable boys elderly 10 to 19, schooling them as future leaders.
On Feb. 12, 1935, Lillard and the International Schoolboy Fellowship had been informed by way of the Napola authorities that they would change 10 American boys for 10 Napola students from July to December 1935.
As I describe in my new ebook, “The Third Reich’s Elite Schools –
A History of the Napolas,” the American exchange organizers have been unaware that the German pupils and body of workers had been charged with an explicitly propagandistic project. The Germans’ intention: Counteract and neutralize the impact of anti-Nazi reporting within the American media, and favorably have an impact on public opinion of the Third Reich.
By 1938, 18 American prep faculties have been taking component in the Napola exchanges.
Reinhard Pfundtner, the 17-12 months-antique son of a excessive-rating civil servant in the Third Reich’s Interior Ministry, was one of the first German boys selected for the trade program. His participation helped make certain the effectiveness of this seasoned-Nazi propaganda campaign at the very best level.
In his position as kingdom secretary of the Third Reich’s ministry of the indoors, Reinhard’s father, Hans Pfundtner, turned into one of the key architects of the Nuremberg Laws, which demoted Jews and Gypsies to a pariah fame within Nazi Germany, and which were instrumental within the Holocaust’s genesis. Hans Pfundtner became also a member of the Olympic Committee. He meant to apply the trade as an possibility to steer Lillard, his son’s American headmaster, to lobby in prefer of U.S. participation in the upcoming 1936 Winter Olympic Games in Germany.
Hans Pfundtner and Lillard left letters, now preserved within the German Federal Archives, that show that the Tabor Academy foremost was completely swayed with the aid of the Pfundtners’ pretense of disinterested friendship.
In one letter dated Nov. 23, 1935, Lillard assured Pfundtner that his “exceptional letter replying to … questions about the Olympic Games” were “quoted with the aid of several of our top newspapers, and was protected inside the Associated Press service during the united states. … Undoubtedly, this message of yours might be very helpful in submerging a number of the false propaganda.”
Many leading American prep colleges took element within the Napola alternate program every yr following 1935, which include Phillips Academy Andover in Massachusetts and Phillips Academy Exeter in New Hampshire, St. Andrew’s in Delaware, Choate and the Loomis School in Connecticut, and New Jersey’s The Lawrenceville School. Between 1936 and 1938, 15 American students every year learned at the Nazi elite schools for 10 months, while 30 Napola scholars spent five months every at the American schools.
Even after the “Night of Broken Glass” pogrom in November 1938, in which over 7,000 Jewish agencies and over 250 synagogues in German territories had been destroyed, Lillard nonetheless advised principals on the prep schools that have been a part of the Napola-ISF change to maintain this system into the 1939-forty educational yr.
In a letter written after that event, Lillard stated “If we keep to deliver the lads together, some thing constructive can be done; whereas, if we abandon all efforts within the route of Germany, we are last the possibility for the destiny leaders to be enlightened … .”
Despite the debatable nature of the exchange software, a lot of the colleges whose documents I consulted for my ebook have been maximum useful and curious to study greater about their establishments’ unsuspected connections with the Third Reich.
Given these exchanges, the Napola application seemed to have done some achievement in persuading their American companions to give the Nazi regime the advantage of the doubt, at the least in the quick time period.
In reaction to terrible media insurance at the violent persecution of Jewish Germans and different minorities that become taking vicinity beneath the Nazi regime, the Napola scholars attempted to actively discredit those accounts as biased or as “Jewish propaganda.”
According to accounts in surviving school newsletters, the Napola students have been frequently capable of persuade their American hosts that events in Germany have been not nearly as dire as press reports may make them accept as true with. They had been often given the possibility to give their own political opinions, in speech and in writing.
For instance, one trade pupil at Tabor Academy, Wolfgang Korten, wrote in “The Tabor Log” in June 1939, “I become happy to talk to the American as a German approximately Germany, and to provide him a few thoughts approximately my place of origin, exceptional from the ones he reads in his papers.” He additionally harassed that to completely reject “fascism” and “Nazism” within the call of “democracy” was a mistake.
Newsletter reviews on both aspects also advise that the American scholars loved learning the “new Germany” and will quite easily come to be sympathetic to their hosts’ political views.
One American scholar who attended the Napola in Plön, Germany, wrote in 1938 that the 12 months he had spent there was the “finest enjoy” of his life. Another became even discovered by way of his fellow Napola scholars training the Hitler salute in the front of his reflect. Meanwhile, many group of workers and students at the U.S. academies kept in touch with their German associate colleges even after the outbreak of struggle in 1939.
To a gift-day reader, the attitudes closer to Nazi Germany depicted right here would possibly seem exceptionally naïve. At the time, however, many educated Americans shared similar sentiments – curious, trusting in German suitable religion and inclined to downplay or disregard earlier reviews of Nazi atrocities.
That is, till the Nazis’ preference for war have become impossible to ignore.
Correction: Due to an editor’s mistakes, the vicinity of Phillips Academy Exeter was incorrectly said. It is in New Hampshire.
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