The Origins of Max Rill School
Our grammar school was founded by Max and Gustl Rill in 1938 as a girls’ school when they moved into the Castle of Reichersbeuern. Being the oldest secondary school in the district, the school has developed over eight decades from a typical country boarding school with a reformist profile into a modern co-educational day and boarding school. Generations of pupils have been happy to attend the school and have graduated equipped with experiences meaningful to their lives. As alumni, called Altbürger and literally meaning old citizens, they tell the generations that follow about the eventful history of the school in the Castle of Reichersbeuern. However, these stories of the school’s history might get lost, if they are not written down and recounted. This is why in the jubilee year of 2018 the school community set out to fathom, document and make visible its own origins.
Whenever we talk with Altbürger, who would have known the founder personally, Max Rill is always remembered with great respect. Not a charismatic, but a warm-hearted person, quiet and modest. Not a politically zealous teacher, but a committed pedagogue. Max Rill was revered by his students. In times of fascism Max Rill did not work in political no man’s land, but rather underwent a process of adaptation. This was brought up for discussion in the school publication “In Sachen Max Rill. Die Mädchenschule in Reichersbeuern 1938 bis 1945 und ihre Beziehungen zur SS-Junkerschule Bad Tölz“ (“In The Matter of Max Rill. The Girls’ School in Reichersbeuern 1938 to 1945 and its Relationship to the SS-Junkerschule Bad Tölz”) by Nikolaus Frei and Georg Kwossek and in the documentary theatre piece “Der Max Rill Prozess. Über die Erziehung in Zeiten der Tyrannei!“ (“The Max Rill Trial. On Education in Times of Tyranny”). The play premiered in July 2018 and Max Rill’s work was discussed in a controversial panel discussion.
As part of the school anniversary, a group of pupils also set out to present excerpts from the school’s history in their own school museum set up in the archway of the castle. We are very proud of having created a public space of remembrance and research with an exhibition and an archive which is accessible to our pupils and Altbürger. The aim is to further explore our school’s history in order to preserve the essential pedagogical ideas of the founding period and to transfer them into the modern age of the 21st century.
Eight decades of Max Rill School are characterized by an unrestricted positive attention to the child within a community that acts both socially and inclusively. In 1965 it was one of the first grammar schools to introduce the social science branch in Bavaria as part of a project under its headmaster Dr. Michael Scherer. In the 1970s, under the direction of Fritz Funk, the school participated as a model school in the testing of the “Kollegstufe”, a then new educational form similar to Sixth Form College. At the end of the 1980s the school opened up to boys and developed co-educational schooling under the direction of Hermann Schmid and Gisela Schmid-Steinke. From 2000 onwards, aesthetic education in drama and music became a focal point under the direction of Frank Senske, who ran the fine arts branch for ten years. The Max Rill Gymnasium proactively takes on the new challenges of inclusion and digitally supported learning combined with media education. This is an innate consequence of an ongoing school development and improvement that prepares children and young people for life in a globalised world, a world in which the inner poise conveyed by school remains of vital importance.
Formally, seen from the outside, Max Rill complied with the demands of the NSDAP. In the school itself, he wanted to enable the girls to gain enough inner poise to be able to form their own judgements.
In a speech on Parents‘ Day 1938 he reveals his tentative considerations on this matter:
“We want to strengthen our children through education, to give them poise. Since we do not have a particular stance in terms of a religious denomination, it is more difficult for us to assume a firm stance, to seek such a stance, and to obtain and achieve it. This is at the same time both unfavourable and favourable. I think the favourable element predominates. To strive after and to acquire such a stance has an extraordinary educational effect for children. A common ground of attitude, also the attempt to obtain a position and not the mere acceptance of what is given and of what is the rule. The children must realize that we do not know everything and cannot achieve everything.”
This quote is taken from the newly published chronicle “Schloss Reichersbeuern. Geschichte und Geschichten“ (p. 207), which our former head, Hermann Schmid, who worked at the school from 1985 – 2001, produced on its behalf.
Today, too, we are still groping and searching. We, the members of staff of the Max-Rill-Gymnasium want to show the children and young people ways forward, to help them to make the right decisions and to open up new perspectives in life for themselves.