Ernst Krieck (born July 6, 1882 in Vögisheim; died March 19, 1947 in Moosburg an der Isar) was a German teacher, writer, and professor. Aside from Alfred Baeumler, Krieck was considered a leading National Socialistic (Nazi) theoretical scientist.
After his graduation from junior high school, Krieck went to a teacher’s college in Karlsruhe. During his following work as an elementary school teacher, he began to criticize the dominant school system as mechanical and too bureaucratic. During this time, Krieck continued to be self-educated.
In 1910, his first literary work, Persönlichkeit und Kultur (Personality and Culture), was published. In 1917, Krieck published Die deutsche Staatsidee (The German National Idea). Then in 1920 Die Revolution der Wissenschaft (The Revolution of Science) was published, and, finally, in 1922 Philosophie der Erziehung (Philosophy of Education) was published. Philosophie der Erziehung is considered Krieck’s most important book
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. For his work on this book, he received an honorary doctorate from Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg.
After four years as working as a freelance writer he was appointed to work at the Pädagogische (pedagogy i.e. Science of education) Akademie in Frankfurt am Main in 1928.
Until the end of the 1920s, he supported the traditional opinions of the liberal teaching staff which was in conflict with the school politics of the SPD (Social Democratic Party), Zentrumspartei (Central Party), and the Catholic Church. Then, he took a political turn. In 1931, he became a member of the racial minded, anti-semitic fighting union for German culture. After he had declared, “Heil auf das Dritte Reich” (“Hail to the Third Reich”) at the solstice festival in 1931, Krieck was transferred to the Pädagogische Akademie Dortmund for disciplinary reasons.
During this time, throughout the Ruhr region in Germany, Krieck acted frequently as a political speaker. On January 1, 1932 he became a member of the NSDAP (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or National Socialistic German Workers Party) and the National Socialistic teachers union. In 1932, due to further Nazi agitation, Krieck was suspended as professor.
After the Nazi “takeover,” due to a secretarial decree, Krieck was elected President of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main in April 1933. He had been the only candidate. It was only a day before that he had been elected Professor of Education and Philosophy. He was the first Nazi President of a German University. After his election he declared that “the old gap between Volkstum (the people) and the University was finally bridged.” His election marked the beginning of a union “between the Führer of the town, the guidance of the NSDAP, and the Führer of the University.” He announced an aggressive cleanup of the University: “It is our collective goal, to make a stronghold for the German spirit in the city of Frankfurt. We are marching toward a new culture, that of National Socialism and its Führer to make way for the political revolution…” One of the first measures was the public burning of books on the Römerberg on May 10, 1933.
Krieck became the publisher of the new magazine “Volk im Werden” (NS Race Coming into Being), which was published every two months from 1933-1944 and depicted Nazi ideas about education. Krieck published many articles in this magazine. In 1934, Krieck went to Ruprecht-Karls Universität Heidelberg and took a position as chair of the Philosophy and Education department. In the summer of 1936 he appeared with Bernhard Rust both publicly and programmatically. Starting in 1934, he also worked with the Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service) des Reichsführers SS and worked as a spy in the science section. In 1935 he became the leader of the Gau Nazi teachers union in Baden. From April 1937 to October 1938 he was President at the University of Heidelberg. His core philosophy caused severe controversy with the NS race theorists in the years of 1936-1938
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, whereupon he left all party and academic offices. In 1938, he left the SS, but was then given the honorary role of SS-Obersturmbannführer. He was chairman of the Philosophy and Education department in Heidelberg until the end of WWII.
In 1944 he became one of several leaders of the NS teachers union.
After the end of WWII, he was dismissed from the University and detained by US occupying forces. He died on March 19, 1947 in an internment camp located in Moosburg an der Isar.
Krieck became a professor despite the fact that he had no Abitur (a diploma from German secondary school qualifying a person for admission into a University). Krieck grew up in a working class environment-his father was a mason and a peasant-and it wasn’t possible for Krieck to attend high school. Therefore, his training as an elementary school teacher was the only possibility for him to receive a higher education. Through his absolute support of the NS and because of his education as a teacher, it was possible for Krieck to be appointed to higher teaching positions. He was himself unsatisfied with his resume and incorporated his personal experience of social criticism into his resume.
The Heidelberg University Archives has received estate items belonging to Ernst Krieck and his daughter, Ilse Krieck. This inheritance includes photo albums, single frame pictures, a bust, correspondence, and five gramophone records that play a speech given by Krieck in 1933.