The Dispute Over the Reform Pedagogue Peter Petersen (1884-1952) in Jena 2010: Review of a "Total Disaster" After Ten Years
Keywords:reform pedagogy, Jenaplan, Jena University School, Petersen dispute, National Socialism, Holocaust
With the reunification of Germany, a Jenaplan School was founded in 1991 in the city of Jena,
Thuringia. Since then one place of the city carried Petersen's name. The University School at Jena, refounded by Petersen as Life Community School in 1924 (the traditional purpose as a mere teacher training school goes back to the year 1844) and received international attention during the Weimar Republic. Petersen's attempt to gain recognition in the Hitler state (1933-1945) with his reform pedagogy failed, but the University School was allowed to continue to exist. In 1950 it was closed by the socialist GDR state (East Germany). Ten years ago, a bitter dispute raged in Jena over Petersen because previously unknown racist texts written by him had been discovered. The dispute ended when Petersenplatz was renamed "Jenaplan". A book by Hein Retter, which appeared ten years ago, was highly controversial: it described children of Jewish and socialist origin as well as disabled children - from families who were threatened by Nazi ideology but who saw their children safe with Petersen. Looking back ten years, the author of the controversial book describes the Jena Petersen dispute and what can be learned from it.