Let me explain this with my family as it will tell you alot about my family background. It also provides a good example of how the different German schools played a role in the life of one German family. My family had craft roots, but we entered the middleclass in the 19th century. American and other non-German readers may want to look at some of the HBC background pages to learn more about the different kinds of German schools. My grandfather received an excellent education and I remember him as a very cultured person. As my parents divorced, I have very few memories of my father. The basic structure of German education dates from the 19th century.
My grandfather was born in a craftsmen family in a small town (1872). He attended first the Volksschule there, then for another 4 years a Realschule (payed by his grandparents). I have very interesting, lovely letters where he thanks them at Xmas/New Years in French. He entered a public service institution and, some years later, he was allowed and funded to study at a tertiary school/university in Stuttgart. He married at about 28 years. Later on, he was called to work in Berlin till 1933 as a high-level public officer. He was then fired by the NAZIs.
My grandmother, born 1875, came from an upper class family in Stuttgart, her father was also working in public service for the royal government. She started school already in a „Stift“, the „Olgastift“ (named to the founder, a Württemberg princess, only for girls). She went to school for about 7 years, later before her marriage she was a „höhere Tochter“ in her family.
I don´t know much about my father (my parents were divorced when I was 2 years old). He also came also from a craftsmen family, but certainly attended a Gymnasium before studing medicine.
My mother attended the Olgastift, too, for 12 years now leaving with the Abitur. Later, she learned a technical profession in hospitals and worked there. She married at age 27 years. Then only during wartime, she was working again in a hospital.
I myself went first to a „Volksschule“ in the town where I grew up, then had to change to the countryside till the end of the war (during a summer holiday in August 1943, 8 years old, I was with relatives in a very small village going to school there, a one class school; the teacher was very happy to have for 4 weeks a child from a town, already knowing how to read a clock; other children from farmers came in August only to school in bad weather days, helping the parents for the harvest at warm and dry days). Back to the town where I grew up after the war, in fall 1945, I became a pupil of a Gymnasium (named after the founder in the 19th century, from Württemberg royal family), what was called in old tradition „Sexta“. 1945 the school was first called „Oberschule“, as the American military government only allowed this form of secondary, public schools. It was for boys only (it has now changed, there are also girls in this school since the sixties). I started with English, Latin in the third class („Quarta“) and French in the forth class (Untertertia“), for 9 years ending, 18 years old, with the „Abitur“ (in the „Oberprima“). The school was a socalled „humanistisches Gymnasium“, where pupils had to learn three foreign languages. Before the 2nd World War and still now there is a second old Gymnasium, also named after its founder of the royal family in the 19th century. There was and still is a similar old Gymnasium for girls, named as a „Stift“ of a royal princess in the 19th century. In this town (500 000 population) there are now more such „Gymnasien“, and more what is called „Oberschule“ where pupils have to learn only two foreign languages and more emphasis on mathematics and natural sciences.
My wife comes from a family of an engineer from a smaller town. She went to the Volksschule there and later on to a Oberschule for the 9 years (girls only).
My son, born 1968, attended, following the Grundschule for 4 years, a Gymnasium for the regular 9 years, achieving the Abitur just 19 years old.
American and other non-German readers may want to look at some of the HBC background pages to learn more about the different kinds of German schools. The basic structure of German education dates from the 19th century.
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