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Spatial Relations and the Struggle for Space

Friedrich Ratzel’s Impact on German Education from the Wilhelmine Empire to the Third Reich

Troy Paddock

Keywords: education; geography instruction; history instruction; national identity; Friedrich Ratzel; state; textbooks

Abstract

This article examines the influence of Friedrich Ratzel’s idea of the struggle for space and its impact on cultural and national development depicted in German geography and history textbooks from the Wilhelmine era to the Third Reich. Ratzel’s concept of bio-geography conceived the state as a living organism that is the product of humanity’s interaction with the land and also facilitates humanity’s spread across the earth. German textbooks promoted a similar concept of the state in their portrayal of geography and history, the implications of which were appropriated by the National Socialists to support their geopolitical goals.

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