Letter: Educationist's anti-Nazi role

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Sir: While our family has not had the opportunity of reading the files about our great- uncle Kurt Hahn, just released by the Scottish Office and referred to in your issue of 25 August ('Founder of Gordonstoun suspected of spying for Nazis', 25 August), it does not look as if they contain any surprises for us.

What more natural than that the local people living near Gordonstoun in the tense early days of the war should feel nervous about a new school founded and run by a German national, with a number of German pupils and teachers, a strong emphasis on outdoor activities, physical fitness and self-reliance, and an embryonic coastguard service watching the waters of the Moray Firth for craft in distress? Kurt himself understood this well.

Happily, the anti-Nazi reputation and achievements of his first school, Salem, in southern Germany, and his own record for courageous resistance to Hitler (he had the distinction of having been Hitler's first political prisoner following his protest against the actions of Hitler's thugs, who murdered a young Communist before the eyes of his mother in the notorious Potempa incident), led MI5 to clear him of all suspicions.

After leaving Gordonstoun in 1951, he established, always with committed allies, the Duke of Edinburgh's award scheme, the Trevelyan scholarship scheme for entry into Oxford and Cambridge, the Medical Commission on Accident Prevention, and Atlantic College, the first of the United World colleges. In addition, he followed a heavy programme of speaking, writing and fund-raising.

This record encouraged many to regard him as the man who had contributed more original ideas than anyone else to British education in the 20th century.

Yours faithfully,



London, SW5

25 August