Education of German Lutheran elites at the turn of the 20th century based on the example of Royal Gymnasium in Ełk
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Uniwersytet Warmińsko-Mazurski w Olsztynie
Stefan Marcinkiewicz •
Online publication date: 2021-06-16
Publication date: 2021-06-16
KMW 2021;311(1):34–51
This article is devoted to the education of elites in the German Empire at the turn of the 19th century. The issue is presented based on the example of the alumni of the Royal Gymnasium in Ełk. After the Napoleonic Wars, together with the reforms of Prussia, the awakening nationalism foreshadowed the end of Prussia as a multinational state as well as the birth of an industrial society. In Ełk, a former provincial school was transformed into a Latin Gymnasium. The school was expected to henceforth educate the elites of a modern state with its complex administration and military, as well as to transmit one corpus of knowledge and a domineering culture. The reports written by the headmasters of the Royal Gymnasium of Ełk in 1884–1910 suggest that its alumni mainly consisted of sons of the representatives of the middle and upper class. Officials, clergy, representatives of liberal professions, military men, teachers and merchants coming from different parts of the German state educated their sons in the Gymnasium in Ełk, passing on their social status to their descendants. The Royal Gymnasium of Ełk was a kind of transmission medium of German culture, educating above all Lutheran and German elites. Simultaneously, most Masurians were educated in the “German and Prussian spirit” by the system of public schools. The age of steam and electricity was dominated by a belief that people should be subjected to a cultural standardisation. The creation of a nation that would be uniform in terms of culture was intended to be achieved by means of a centrally managed system of education.