Schoolwear at Individual German Schools: Chronological List

Figure 1.-- This class of younger German secondary school boys (aged about 13) is formally dressed for a their school portrait, but I believe this was standard school attire at the time. Most of the boys wear dark suits with formal white shirts and ties although a few do not abd a few wear sailor suits.

HBC has begun to collect information on German schools during different time periods. Germany in the 19th and 20th century went through dramatic political changes which has affected education. This has included unification (Imperial Germany), the Weimar Pepublic, NAZI Germany, Communist East and Democratic West Germany during the Cold War, and finlly modern unified Germany. We only have a few schools at this time, but hope to add tp our list. While we have found quite a few images of German schools they are often not identified or even dated which complicates are assessment of individual schools. We hope that some of the large number of German visitors to HBC will provide us some insights into the uniforms and clothes that they wore to school so that we can add to our list. Unfortunately in only a few cases do we know the name of the school.

The 19th Century

We do not yet have many German school portraits from the 19th century, but hope to gradually archive images as HBC-SU expands.

Unidentified primary school (1860s)

This is a fascinating German school portrait. Unfortunately there is no information associated with it. We would some ikt was a state primary school. The boys look like they are just beginning school. We do not know where it was taken and it is not dated. Now while we can not figure out where it was taken, we can estimate the date. There is no way of being precise. This is the oldest German school portrait that I have ever seen. There may be some 1850s portraits, but if so, they are rare. Advances in photography make them morefeasible in the 1860s, but even so school portaits from the 60s are not common. We would guess that it was taken in the 1860s, although the early 70s is possible. The most notable aspect of the portrait are the caps. Many boys wear thecstandard peaked military cap, but almost are common are fur Hussar caps. There are a few ither caps, including a sailor cap. We also see hats, including hombergs and a rounded crown hat. The boys all wear suits, but there is a wide variety of them. Almost all of the boys wear long pants, although a few boys wear bloomer knickers.

Alsatian School (1871)

A HBC reader has mentioned a lovely little short story by Alphonse Daudet, entitled "La Derniere Classe" ("The Last Class"). It was published as part of Daudet's Lettres de Mon Moulin ("Letters From My Mill"). The story is set in Alsace. It describes a French teacher telling his class that he was being replaced and this will be the last day that their class will be taught in the French language. An indifferent schoolboy comes to class on the last day that instruction will be given in French. It is 1870-71 and the Franco-Prussian War has ended with a overwealming German victory. German must now be used in the Alsatian schools. The schoolboy enters class a bit late (his custom!) and listens as the schoolmaster relates the sad news of the German victory to the class. The schoolmaster's praise of the French language and literature awaken a belated patriotism and love of French in this errant but goodhearted pupil.

The 20th Century

We notice German boys wearing many different styles of clothing to school during the 20th century. Virtually all German schools had class portraits throughout the century. As school attendance was complusory in the primry years, these school portraits are probably the best evidence of what children were actually wearing, as opposed to some fashion sources which often emphasized the more fashionable cstyles worn by children from more affluent families. Secindary schools are different until after World War II because most working-class children did not go on go secondary schools. We note children wearing knee pants suits at the beginning of the 20th century. Sailor suits were very popular. After Wrld War I, short panys became very common, often worn with long stockings during the winter. Older boys might wear knickes. Uniforms were not common at German schools, even during the NAZI era. Short pants were still common after World War II, but long pants grew in popularity, at first for winter wear. We note a lot of children going barefoot after the War, a relection of the difficult economic situation. Another major trend was increasing informality at school. Sweaters were popular schoolwear items. We see few boys wearing suits to school by the 1960s. And long pants become increasingly common for boys of all ages.


Related Chronolgy Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[Main Chronology Page]
[The 1850s] [The 1860s] [The 1870s] [The 1880s]
[The 1890s] [The 1900s] [The 1910s]

Navigate the German school pages
[Return to the Main individual German school page]
[Return to the Main German school uniform page]
[Return to the Main school uniform national page]
[Imperial Germany] [Weimar Republic] [NAZI era] [Post-war Years] [Modern Germany]

Navigate the Relate Boys Historical Clothing Style Pages
[Main country page]
[Long pants suits] [Short pants suits] [Lederhosen] [Kneesocks] [Eton suits]
[Jacket and trousers] [Blazer [School sandals]

Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing School Uniform Pages
[Main School Uniform Page]
[Australia] [England] [France] [Germany] [Italy] [Japan] [New Zealand] [Scotland]
[United States]

Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Page
[About Us]
[Activities] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Debate] [Economics] [Garment] [Gender] [Hair] [History] [Home trends] [Literary characters]
[School types] [Significance] [Transport and travel [Uniform regulations] [Year level] [Other topics]
[Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Return to the Historic Boys' School Home]

Created: September 4, 2001
Last updated: 5:58 PM 10/25/2007