Bernhard Rust (30 September 1883 – 8 May 1945) was Minister of Science, Education and National Culture (Reichserziehungsminister) in National Socialist Germany. A competent school administrator he issued decrees at every level of the German educational system to immerse German youth in National Socialist ideology. He also served as the party Gauleiter in Hanover and Brunswick from 1925 to 1940.
Rust was born in Hanover and obtained a doctorate in German philology and philosophy. After passing the state teaching examination with the "good" grade  in 1908, he became a high school teacher at Hanover's Ratsgymnasium, then served in the Imperial Army during World War I, where reached the rank of Oberleutnant, served as a company commander and was awarded the Iron Cross first and second class for bravery. He was wounded in action and sustained a severe head injury. He was discharged in December 1918 and returned to Hanover.
Rust joined the National Socialist Party in 1921 and was a co-founder of the local group in Hanover. When the party was temporarily banned in the aftermath of the Beer Hall Putsch, Rust joined the German Völkisch Freedom Party and served as an Ortsgruppenleiter and later as Gauleiter for Hanover. When the ban on the Party was lifted, he rejoined it (membership number 3,390). On 22 March 1925, he was named Gauleiter for the Gau of North Hanover. On 10 September 1925, Rust joined the National Socialist Working Association headed by Gregor Strasser. This was an association of northern and western Gauleiters who supported the socialist wing of the Party until it was dissolved in 1926 following the Bamberg Conference.
When the Gaue were reorganised on 1 October 1928, Rust became the Gauleiter for Southern Hanover–Brunswick. He retained that position until November 1940, when he was succeeded by Hartmann Lauterbacher. In September 1930, he was elected to the Reichstag from electoral constituency 16, Southern Hanover-Brunswick. He would remain a Reichstag deputy through to the end of the National Socialist government in 1945. On 15 July 1932 came his appointment as Landesinspekteur for Lower Saxony. In that position, he had oversight responsibility for his Gau and four others (Eastern-Hanover, North Westphalia, South Westphalia & Weser-Ems). That was a short-lived initiative by Gregor Strasser to centralise control over the Gaue. However, it was unpopular with the Gauleiters and was repealed on Strasser's fall from power in December 1932. Rust then returned to his Gauleiter position in Southern Hanover-Brunswick.
Shortly after Hitler became chancellor in January 1933, Rust was appointed as the Prussian Minister for Science, Culture and Public Education on April 22nd. He was made a member of the Prussian State Council on 11 July and the Academy for German Law when it was formed in October 1933. On 1 May 1934, he was selected as Reichsminister of Science, Education and National Culture (Wissenschaft, Erziehung und Volksbildung) and set about to reshape the German educational system to conform to National Socialist ideals. Rust created a number of new regulations, some of which proved unworkable: in 1935, when he changed the traditional six-day school week to five days, with Saturday to be "Reich's Youth Day", when children in the Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls would be out of school for study and testing. He then ordered the creation of a "rolling week", with six days for study, followed by the "youth day" and a rest day, in eight-day periods. Thus, a rolling week starting on Monday would end with rest on the following Monday. The next rolling week would start on Tuesday and end eight days later on the next Tuesday. When the eight-day week proved unworkable, Rust reverted to the former system.
It was Rust who in 1933 issued a rule that students and teachers should greet each other with the National Socialist salute "as a symbol of the new Germany". He added his opinion that it was "expected of every German", regardless of membership in the party. Rust was instrumental in purging German universities of Jews, and others regarded as enemies of the state, most notably at the University of Göttingen. Germany's future leaders received their instruction elsewhere, in a NPEA, or "Napola" (NAtionalPOLitische erziehungsAnstalten), of which there were 30 in the nation, where they would receive training to become administrators etc.
He informed teachers that their aim was to educate Germans to be ethnically-aware. Rust also believed that non-Aryan science (such as Albert Einstein's "Jewish physics") was flawed and had what he felt to be a rational explanation for that view. In an address to scientists, he said, "The problems of science do not present themselves in the same way to all men. The Negro or the Jew will view the same world in a different light from the German investigator".
Rust reportedly committed suicide on 8 May 1945, when Germany surrendered to Allied forces.
Rust prepared a reform of German orthography, and his fairly-extensive version ironically corresponded to the ideas of the 'progressive' spelling reformers of the 1970s (lowercase common nouns, elimination of lengthening symbols). The attempt met internal resistance of the Reich's ministry. The German orthography reform of 1944 also failed.
Before those failures, the rules of the reform had been printed in millions of copies intended for classroom use and published in numerous newspapers. The 1944 reform was postponed on the orders of Hitler because it was "not important for the war effort". Some of Rust's innovations had, however, found their way into the 1942 'Duden', such as the spelling of the word Kautsch for Couch, which persisted into the 1980s.
Oddly, many of his proposed changes were finally implemented with the German orthography reform of 1996.
- ↑ Nagel, Anne C.,Hitlers Bildungsreformer: Das Reichsministerium für Wissenschaft, Erziehung und Volksbildung 1934–1945, Fischer publishing house, 2012.
- ↑ Miller Michael D., and Schulz, Andreas: Gauleiter: The Regional Leaders of the Nazi Party and Their Deputies, 1925–1945, Volume II (Georg Joel – Dr. Bernhard Rust), R. James Bender Publishing, 2017, p. 415.
- ↑ Miller & Schulz, 2017, pps:415–416.
- ↑ Karl Höffkes: Hitlers politische Generale. Die Gauleiter des Dritten Reiches. Ein biographisches Nachschlagewerk, Grabert-Verlag, Tübingen, 1986, p.278.
- ↑ Orlow, Dietrich, The History of the Nazi Party: 1919–1933, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1969, pps:273–295.
- ↑ Miller & Schulz, 2017, pp. 418–419.
- ↑ Current Biography 1942, p.725; "The Good Earth", Time magazine, 30 September 1935
- ↑ "Sub-Dictator", Time, 21 August 1933
- ↑ "How Nazis are Trained", Time magazine, 25 August 1941
- ↑ Current Biography 1942, p.727
- ↑ Goeschel, Christian (2009), Suicide in Nazi Germany, OUP Oxford, p. 152, https://books.google.com/books?id=EIjccRg7_UYC&pg=PA152.
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- 1883 births
- 1945 deaths
- Christian fascists
- German Army personnel of World War I
- German Protestants
- Members of the Academy for German Law
- Members of the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic
- Members of the Reichstag of National Socialist Germany
- National Socialist Germany ministers
- National Socialist officials
- National Socialist politicians
- People from the Province of Hanover
- Recipients of the Iron Cross (1914), 1st class
- Recipients of the Iron Cross (1914), 2nd class
- Sturmabteilung personnel