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Why did everyone in the USSR learn German: explanation

Alina MilsentLife
In the USSR, German was massively taught

"I studied German at school" - this phrase, popular among the older generation, usually means that a person knows neither English nor German and does not speak foreign languages at all. Have you ever wondered why people in the USSR learned German or, at the very least, French?

After the Second World War, English became the language of international communication, but in the Soviet Union, German was taught on a massive scale until the perestroika period. OBOZREVATEL looked into why German and French were taught in the USSR and how they switched to English.

The British Empire was the largest colonial power in the world, but in the early twentieth century, English did not become widespread in Eastern and Central Europe. French was considered the language of diplomacy and culture, and German was called the language of the scientific community. Most scientific works were written in German. International events were held in French and German, so there was little point in learning English on the continent at the time.

In the USSR, people studied German precisely because it was considered the language of science. An educated person of those times, fluent in German, could read any literature and scientific works in the original.

The situation changed somewhat after World War II. The hatred of the enemy was transferred to the language. Countries massively abandoned the compulsory study of German in schools and universities. The United States became a superpower, and English became the language of international communication.

However, the USSR was in no hurry to switch to learning English. During the Cold War, the United States became the main enemy. To provide students with a choice in learning a language, the entire education system would have to be redesigned. The transition to English in the USSR took a long time. When the entire civilized world was becoming English-speaking, the Union continued to teach German as the main and only available foreign language. It was only during perestroika that the opportunity to choose appeared.

Earlier, OBOZREVATEL told you what Soviet habits you should finally give up.

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