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Post-War Reconstruction

Guide outlining resources available at the IOE archive related to educational aspect of reconstruction in countries affected by the Second World War.

Collage of three black and white images from the Institute of Education archives


Following World War Two, there was enormous international co-operation to reconstruct countries which had been destroyed by the War. Part of this programme of reconstruction was rooted in the use of education to try to eliminate Fascism, Nazism and militarism, and to create a network of educational insitutions that would promote international understanding. 

Post-war reconstruction

After the Second World War the Potsdam Agreement outlined that the guidelines for the administration of the occupied countries were to eliminate National-Socialism and Fascist ideologies, and introduce democracy. In November 1945, the United Nations created the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to establish the "intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind" and to try to prevent another World War. UNESCO reviewed the educational systems of Germany, Italy and Japan and led an international cooperative programme to try to eliminate Fascism, Nazism and militarism and later developed a series of bilateral initiatives which removed teaching aids that promoted international hatred and misunderstanding.

Most of the collections on post-war reconstruction in the IOE archive relate to the British efforts in Germany. After the war Germany was split into four Occupation Zones, each administered separately by the USA, USSR, France and Britain. A joint educational programme across Germany was unworkable as each occupier followed practices from their own country, and state education had previously only been known in Germany under the Third Reich. The British Education Branch established its headquarters in Westphalia and assumed control over German education in the British Zone and the British Sector of Berlin. Initially the British administration kept direct control to maintain peace and to provide for the immediate need for schooling, though it also recognised a need for adult education.

In 1947 the direct control of education was passed to the local German authorities, though Britain maintained overall control and the occupation did not officially end until 1955. The city of Berlin remained occupied until 1990 and the British continued to have a military presence in Germany, providing its own schools for education for the families of members of the military who were stationed there through the British Families Education Service (later known as the Service Children's Education).


For guidance on how to use our dedicated online catalogue to browse and search archives, manuscripts and records see the archives home page.

Archive collections

Records of the British Families Education Service/Service Children's Education Association (BFES/SCE)

The BFES was established in 1946 to teach the children of British families stationed in the British Zone of Germany after WW2. It was renamed the Service Children’s' Education (SCE), taken over by the army the 1950s and now runs schools around the world. BFES Association was founded in 1967 to enable BFES teachers to keep in touch. In the 1980s it merged with the Service Children’s' Education Association (SCE) to become the BFES/SCE Association. The records of the BFES/SCE Association, 1947-2000, include administration records; publications; and memorabilia collected from members of the Association relating to their work across the world, including post-war Germany. (RefNo: BFE)

Papers of John Stanley Beaumont Boyce (1911-1992)

John Stanley Beaumont Boyce was part of the Education Branch in Germany at the end of WW2, and was involved in setting up local government and education systems. His collection, 1920-1992, includes letters to his wife while stationed in Germany; photographs of Germany; handwritten 'Random thoughts at the beginning of the Second World War 1939-1940'; file relating to his army career; file containing 'Monthly Reports, Jun-Dec 1945: Education Summary'; and photographs of German Schools. (RefNo: BOY)

Records of German Educational Reconstruction

German Educational Reconstruction (GER) was founded in 1943 with the aim of helping refugee educationists to prepare for their post-war return to Germany. After the War the GER promoted Anglo-German relations by acting as an information bureau and means of communication and exchange between British and German educationists. It was wound up in 1958. The collection, 1943-1958, includes administrative papers, containing minutes, correspondence, administrative and policy files; bulletins, reports and memoranda; files on conferences, meetings and group visits; material relating to a wide range of other organisations; and press cuttings and collected publications. (RefNo: GER)

Papers of Mimi Hatton

Mimi Hatton was a primary teacher with the British Families Education Service (BFES) in post-war Germany. Her papers, 1946-1952, relate to her work with the BFES, including an account of her service in Germany; photographs; and memorabilia. (RefNo: MH)

Papers of Arabella Kurdi

Arabella Kurdi worked as School Meals and Domestic Science Organiser from The British Families Education Service (BFES) in post-war Germany. Her papers relate to her work, 1947-[1971], including album of photographs of conditions in Germany, friends and colleagues and BFES schools; correspondence, including letters describing her experiences; material relating to the school meals service; and printed material.  (RefNo: AK)

Papers of Joesph Lauwerys (1902-1981)

Joseph Lauwerys, Professor of Comparative Education at the IOE from 1947-1970, was involved in many organisations for promoting international co-operation and understanding and comparative education. His papers, 1920s-1980s, include personal and working papers reflecting many aspects his career, including material about post-war reconstruction and the founding of UNESCO. This collection is not online yet. Please contact us for further information. (RefNo: JL)

Papers of the Moot

The Moot was a private discussion group to consider post-war social reconstruction within a Christian framework. Its members included T.S. Eliot, Karl Mannheim, R.H. Tawney and Sir Fred Clarke. The collection mainly consists of Sir Fred Clarke's set of the circulated discussion papers, 1939-1942, and an incomplete run of the Christian News-Letter, 1939-1949. (RefNo: MOO)

Papers of Ronald Wilson

Ronald Wilson was involved in the post-war reconstruction of adult education in Germany. His papers, 1945-2005, include papers on the reconstruction of adult education in post-war Germany; and papers relating to Anglo-German co-operation. (RefNo: WIL)

Records of the World Education Fellowship

Founded in 1921 as the New Education Fellowship, this organisation grew into an international organisation, and was re-named the World Education Fellowship in 1966. The Fellowship had sections across the world and was interested in child-centred education, social reform through education, democracy, world citizenship, international understanding and the promulgation of world peace. The collection comprises the central administration records of the Fellowship, including papers regarding post-war educational reconstruction after WWII. (RefNo: WEF)