Posts Tagged ‘WWII’

Education = Power

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Wikipedia is the downfall of my productivity at work.

I will read about most everything with some level of interest, although history oftentimes wins out. Why? It’s the stories, made even more powerful because of the reality behind them. My genre of choice might be fantasy for entertainment, but I can’t ignore the human factor of our past — the actions, inactions, passions, and what people are willing to risk their life over.

I did some link hopping from a chocolate company to underground teaching and opened up a facet of WWII knowledge that I’d never thought about or been aware of; concerning a subject I most certainly take for granted everyday.

In 1939, the invasion and subsequent occupation of Poland marked the start of World War II. The Nazi doctrine determined that the Slavs would serve as manual labor to the Germans, and they did not require an education. All education in the country was banned. The punishment for breaking Nazi law was, as in so many cases, death.

Symbol for Polish freedom from

Those who escaped the deportation to concentration camps or the Nazi’s murder of the nation’s leaders, politicians, artists, and potential trouble-makers organized a network of underground universities. They arranged lectures in basements and crowded apartments. Underground printers were established to provide them with materials and books. In 1944, there were hundreds of teachers and thousands of students. High school students risked their lives to learn grammar, geography and mathematics, receiving certificates from their “non-existent” schools that they could use to enter “non-existent” colleges.

The moral of the story? Knowledge is power. The Nazis understood that, seeing as how they tried to take it away from the Poles; and the Poles recognized what losing education would mean and held onto it even at the risk of execution. Whether it’s formal or not, don’t take your access to information for granted — you never know when you won’t have it anymore.