This week Classics Confidential has been to Cambridge to talk to Helen Roche about her fascinating PhD research on ideas of Sparta in German elite education in the 19th and 20th centuries. Helen is exploring two case studies in her PhD, firstly the Prussian Cadet Schools (1818-1920), and secondly the Napolas (Nationalpolitische Erziehungsanstalten, or ‘National-Political Education-Institutes’), a type of Nazi elite school. In this interview we focus on the Napolas: Helen tells us about how and why Sparta was appropriated by these schools, and how this might fit into the broader background of Nazi responses to Sparta and to Greece in general. She also talks about her experience of interviewing past pupils of the Napolas, whose memories have given her some valuable insight into how Sparta was used as a paradigm in this turbulent period of European history.

 

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