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Pedagogy Table talks (commercial translation)

Uncle Adolf’s table talk, 107



4th April 1942, midday

Rules for a good education.


I’m in favour of an absolutely strict law of inheritance, declaring that a single child shall inherit everything, and all the others shall be thrown out into life and obliged to ensure their livelihood themselves. The father who truly loves his child bequeaths him a healthy heredity and a good education.

A good education consists in the following: (a) forming the child’s character by giving him a sense of what is good; (b) giving him a background of solid knowledge; (c) it must be strict as regards the object to be attained, and firm as regards the methods used.

Furthermore, the father who has a lot of money must take care to give his child as little of it as possible. The man who wishes to bring up his child rightly must not lose sight of the example of nature, which shows no peculiar tenderness.

The peasant class has remained healthy in so far as this form of law has been applied to the countryside. One child inherited the estate, the others received nothing, or almost nothing.

That’s exactly the practice amongst the English nobility. The title passes to a single one of the descendants, to the exclusion of all the others. By thus ensuring that the bananas don’t fall from the trees into the mouths of the young people, one protects them from cowardice and idleness. I’ve given instructions that, from now on, estates given to our colonists in the Eastern territories may not be parcelled out. Only the most capable son will be entitled to inherit his family’s farm, the other children will have to break a road through life themselves.

Such measures apply to the family as they do to other living things. Every human organism, however small, can recognise only one chief—and it is only in this way that the patrimony acquired by a family has a good chance of being preserved.