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How to educate an authoritarian society: conflicting views on school reform for a fascist society in interwar Switzerland

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Anja GiudiciORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Despite its image as an antifascist stronghold, interwar-Switzerland hosted several fascist movements. So far, research has not remarked upon the extraordinarily strong involvement of educators in these groups. Exploiting Switzerland’s particular situation in this period, this paper aims to shed new light on the relationship between authoritarian politics and education. To this end, we analyse the educational writings by activists of the main Swiss fascist organisation Nationale Front(NF), between 1933 and 1938, asking what role they attributed schooling in bringing their societal vision about, as well as which reforms they proposed for schooling to conform to this role. We argue that Swiss interwar-fascists considered schooling a conservative institution that could not contribute to producing an authoritarian revolution, but had to be reformed thereafter. However, despite sharing a unified vision of the future fascist Volksgemeinschaft, NF activists did not agree on what kind of schools were needed to educate it. Swiss fascists never even came close to attaining the position of power needed to execute their ideas, and thus were never burdened by practical or institutional difficulties of government. Consequently, these results suggest that, despite its totalitarian aspiration, interwar European authoritarianism did not come with a clear educational vision.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Giudici A, Ruoss T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Paedagogica Historica

Year: 2020

Volume: 56

Issue: 5

Pages: 605-623

Online publication date: 23/10/2019

Acceptance date: 09/09/2019

Date deposited: 15/12/2022

ISSN (print): 0030-9230

ISSN (electronic): 1477-674X

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/00309230.2019.1675726


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