Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Vejas G. Liulevicius

Committee Members

Margaret M. Andersen, Monica A. Black, Denise Phillips, Maria Stehle


During the German occupation of the Netherlands during the Second World War, the Nazi occupiers attempted to use education as one part of their larger project to create a new, Germanic identity in the Netherlands. This effort was supported by the highest echelons of the German leadership in the Netherlands and the leadership of the Dutch Education Department. Together, the Nazis and their Dutch helpers began a series of changes to Dutch education aimed at bringing Dutch youth closer to the German Reich, with the ultimate aim of divorcing the Dutch from their previous, independent national identity and winning them over to the Germanic ideal.This effort involved many different initiatives. In an effort to completely reorganize the Dutch educational establishment along more Germanic lines, the occupiers and their Dutch helpers attempted to gain control over private, confessional education and to reorganize public education through the lengthening of compulsory attendance requirements and the introduction of an eighth year of primary education. Moreover, the occupiers attempted to introduce new subjects, such as physical education, and increase the emphasis on other subjects, including historical instruction and German language instruction. Finally, the German occupiers also attempted to both foster the development of German International Schools in the Netherlands as well as to create new educational institutions (the NIVO and the Reichsschulen) designed to give instruction in an explicitly völkisch, Germanic sense, both of which aimed at educating the leaders of the future Greater Germanic Reich. These two institutions would also serve as models for the education of ordinary Dutch students in Dutch institutions.The efforts of the Nazi occupiers were a failure, as their efforts were resisted by the majority of Netherlanders and the changes instituted during the occupation were mostly reversed after the return of democratic rule to the Netherlands in summer 1945. Nonetheless, the Nazis’ efforts show the ultimate goals of the occupier as regarded the Netherlands and Europe more generally, should they have won the war. That goal included a European empire based on the racial ideal of a Germanic ruling class presiding over the subjugated peoples of Europe.

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