University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Cook, Alice Hanson / Workers' education in the U.S. Zone of Germany

Labor education,   pp. 5-15 PDF (6.4 MB)

Page 5

of the Western powers. Any program they offer in this distress and uncertainty
assumes unnatural clarity and acceptance. If the actual example of Russian
administration in the East Zone were not so close at hand, there is little
doubt that the Communists would have secured almost unimpeded control of
situation in the plants.
The democratic union leaders who now stand at the heads of practically
all the unions are a continuation of the pre-Hitler trade union tradition
Germany. But since most of them got their training in the Weimar years, a
great majority of them are old men. Their skill, their democratic convictions
and their long experience cannot be easily set aside. But the decisive point
will arrive when the present democratic trade union leaders are too old to
carry on the work they are now doing.
The natural succession would be from the ranks of lesser responsibility _
the works councillors, and local union leadership - to the industrial unions
and Land federations.
An education program within the trade unions must aim to train new
leadership of a high quality, and at the same time reach into shops with
program of mass education of the rank and file.
Workers education in this sense is technical training for specific
vocations within the labor movement, but it is more than that. It must also
give workers a point of view about life and politics - not necessarily a
dogmatic explanation of life - but rather a way of life. This combination
way of living and goal of living is democratic - it is not possible to sub-
ordinate means to ends as the Communist does without violating the democratic
philosophy itself.
The German labor movement has a long educational tradition, and a long
democratic tradition. It is important that the unions with all possible
encouragement from Military Government once more revitalize the tradition
not just reinstitute the former program, but adapt it to the problems of
union organization and the needs of union members today.
The background against which one fills in the story of workers' education
in Germany is the public school education of the worker and his place in
society. Essentially, this position has not changed since Bismarck introduced
free public education through the first six school years,   The schools under
the Kaiser were organized to provide a literature, but intellectually limited,
highly disciplined working class. .11 the school reforms which have been
introduced since have not changed this basic requirement.
- 5 -

Go up to Top of Page