On July 3, 1866, Prussian troops defeated their Austrian opponents at Königgratz, thereby deciding the German “fratricidal war.” The defeat of the Austrian Empire came as a surprise to many contemporaries because the Austrian army was previously regarded as much more powerful. Searching for the causes, one reason was mentioned as a decisive factor in the public discussion: the poorer education of the Austrian soldiers when compared to those of the Prussians. Finally Prussia had a well-functioning school obligation, while the school system in Austria had numerous deficiencies. The slogan of the “Prussian schoolmaster,” who had defeated his Austrian counterpart, led the Austrian military to demand the introduction of compulsory schooling from the political leadership. Improved schooling should thus increase the efficiency of the army. In 1869, the Austrian parliament finally passed the Reichsvolksschulgesetz, which introduced eight-year compulsory schooling. The article examines the military influence on development, drafting and enforcement of the law and thus analyzes its impact on the evolution of the Austrian educational policy.
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