Prince Philip – Salem School – Hitler Youth – Universal Fascism – Dr Hahn and Gordonstoun
During World War I, Prince Max von Baden was chancellor, while the Oxford-trained Dr Kurt Hahn first served as head of the Berlin Foreign Ministry’s intelligence desk, then as a special adviser to the Prince in the Versailles Treaty negotiations.
Von Baden and Hahn went on to set up a school in a wing of Schloss Salem, employing a combination of monasticism and the Nazis’ “strength-through-joy” system.
Hahn, an ardent supporter of Nazi ideals, was part Jewish but embraced the more centrist elements of the Nazi Party. Ownership of the school transferred to Prince Berthold, Margrave of Baden, (Queen Elizabeth’s uncle) in 1932. And, through the influence of his sister Theodora, (Prince Berthold’s wife) 12yo Philip, who had been exiled from Greece following a revolution when he was an infant, arrived at Schloss in the autumn term of 1933. At the time of Prince Philip’s arrival, it was controlled and directed by the Hitler Youth and the Nazi Party, and the curriculum was centered on Nazi “race science”.
In 1933 Hahn’s influential Nazi connections allowed him to leave Germany. He left not long after Prince Philip’s arrival and established a new school in Scotland which he called Gordonstoun.
One of his first pupils was homeless 13yo Philip, who was sent there from Germany in 1934 by his good friend Princess Theodora, Philip’s sister.
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Before the outbreak of war he was regularly consulted by the Foreign Office in London and urged the government to introduce appeasement policies that would appeal to the “centrist” Nazi’s in Germany. MI5 agents in Edinburgh and the Secretary of State for Scotland were convinced in 1940 that Hahn should be interned. But MI5 in London and the Home Office said he was free from suspicion.
But rumours of Hahn’s close ties to the Nazi’s continued to circulate including claims of photographs of Hahn with Hitler and there allegations that during the First World War Hahn “connived in measures calculated to break British morale”. He was also accused of spreading propaganda, blaming the 1919 Treaty of Versailles for the Second World War and advocating the return of colonies to Germany.
Gordonstoun, near Elgin, housed 150 boys and refugee German teachers and inevitably came under suspicion. The school was strategically sited between two RAF aerodromes, ran navigation courses for pupils and had a look-out post over the Moray Firth. In the summer of 1940, the school was evacuated and 5 masters and 11 boys were interned by order of the Home Secretary but not Hahn who was allowed to set up a similar establishment in Wales. Gordonstoun re-opened after the war.
Years after the war had ended confidential records were released by the Scottish Office under an Open Government initiative passed by parliament. They revealed that Hahn, the German-born founder of Gordonstoun, attended by Prince Charles, Andrew and Edward was a suspected Nazi spy.
Hahn was the father figure Philip modelled himself on. He adored Hahn and enthusiastically embraced all of his ideals and was determined his sons would benefit from Hahn’s methods which had been the mainstay of German youth from 1932 when Hahn first promoted the concept to the Nazi’s.