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Bernhard Rust

(1883 - 1945)

Bernhard Rust was Minister of Education in Nazi Germany. He was born in Germany, and served in the army during the First World War. He was awarded the Iron Cross for his bravery during the war. He suffered from a head injury during the war, and this injury contributed to his unstable mental health the rest of his life.

He joined the NSDAP in 1922. He worked as a schoolteacher, but lost his job in 1930 because of sexual relations with a student. He was elected to the Reichstag later that year. In 1934, he became Minister of Education for the Reich, a position that allowed him complete control over universities, youth groups, public schools, and science. Rust was instrumental in purging German universities, most notably the University of Göttingen, of Jews, left-wingers and other non-Nazis. Some of these “non-Nazis” included Nobel Prize winners such as Albert Einstein, Fritz Haber, and Otto Warburg.

Rust believed in educating Germans with a pro-Aryan, anti-Semitic influence. He once remarked, “the whole function of education is to create Nazis.”

Rust committed suicide in 1945 when it became clear that Germany was losing the war.

Sources: Wistrich, Robert S. Who's Who in Nazi Germany. NY: Routledge Press, 1995