German Youth Movement

The German Youth Movement (German: Die deutsche Jugendbewegung) is a collective term for a cultural and educational movement that started in 1896. It consists of numerous associations of young people that focus on outdoor activities. The movement included German Scouting and the Wandervogel. By 1938, 8 million children had joined associations that identified with the movement.

Both the kibbutz and Bruderhof Communities can trace their origins to the German Youth Movement.[1][2] The influence of Friedrich Nietzsche on the movement was substantial, with the philosopher described as the "Prophet of the German Youth Movement".[3]


In 1896 the Wandervogel was founded in Berlin, and soon they crystallized many vital concepts from the ideas of earlier social critics and Romantics that came to reach great and extensive influence on many fields at the onset of the 20th century.

To escape the repressive and authoritarian society of the end of the 19th century and the adult values of a new modern German society increasingly transformed by industrialism, imperial militarism, and British and Victorian influence, groups of young people searched for free space to develop some healthy life of their own away from the increasingly contaminated cities growing all around and from where most of them came to be disappointed. Also a romantic longing for a pristine state of things and older cultural diverse traditions played a part. They turned to nature, confraternity and adventure. Soon the groups split and there originated ever more organisations, which still all called themselves Wandervogel, but were organisationally independent. Nonetheless, the feeling was still of being a common movement but split into several branches.

Bündische Jugend

After the First World War, the leaders returned disillusioned from the war. The same was true for leaders of German Scouting. So both movements started to influence each other heavily in Germany. From the Wandervogel came a stronger culture of hiking, adventure, bigger tours to farther places, romanticism and a younger leadership structure. Scouting brought uniforms, flags, more organisation, more camps and a clearer, more rational ideology. There was also an educationalist influence from Gustav Wyneken.

Together, this led to the emergence of the Bündische Jugend, a movement of many different youth associations. There were Wandervogel groups, Scouting associations and others, all of which mixed the elements described above with new ingredients. New styles and groups developed. A new tent form, the kohte, was invented, which is still the typical black tent used by German scouts on international scout camps to this day. The Deutsche Freischar and then the Jungenschaft was founded.

Nazi Germany

In the German Youth Movement one can find all the different reactions of German society as a whole to the rise of the Nazis. Many welcomed it as a freedom movement to break free of the perceived injustice of the Treaty of Versailles and make Germany strong again. The notion of a 'Volksgemeinschaft', a people's community, was also popular. On the other hand, there were also many in the German Youth Movement who saw their associations as an elite superior to the more primitive Nazis. Some groups were genuinely democratic, or even left wing. Many more, even some of those who tended to the right, still wanted to carry on their independent work and existence as organisations. This led inescapably to a confrontation with the Nazi state, since the Nazi state did not allow any youth groups separate from the Hitler Youth, which itself adopted many of the outer forms of the Bündische Jugend after 1933. The groups remaining outside the Hitler Youth were outlawed and pursued, while some of them (e.g., the Edelweiss Pirates) tried to carry on.

One thing which might have been different from other sections of German society is the following: The Youth Movement was very idealistic, romantic and moral. Therefore, its members tended to take greater risks in following and acting upon their beliefs and persuasions. This might be the reason why one can find significant members of the Youth Movement on both sides, among the Nazis and among the Widerstand.

Examples for this are the following: Adolf Eichmann was one of their members from 1930 to 1931. Hans Scholl was a member of the Jungenschaft, an especially independent-minded association of the Bündische Jugend. Claus von Stauffenberg was a member of the Scout association of the Neupfadfinder, also an association of the Bündische Jugend.

After the war

After the war many associations were refounded in West Germany, when the allies allowed it. In East Germany the Communist government did not allow it but instead outlawed all independent youth organisations. On the other hand, there were some connections between the German Youth Movement and the Free German Youth; within which a pioneer movement subunit, named the Thälmann Pioneers, existed for East German schoolchildren aged 6-14.

In West Germany the Youth Movement became strongly dominated by Scouting, although Wandervogel, Jungenschaft and other groups were also refounded. In contrast to the situation before the war, all groups tried to have a more rational ideology and declared their support of the new Basic Law. German Scouting also approached world Scouting (the World Organization of the Scout Movement and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) and was admitted to the world organisations for the first time.


Today there are still many groups and organisations which see themselves as part of this movement. German Scouting is still heavily influenced by this history, although the historical influence varies from group to group. The most distinctive features of German Scouting trace from this history.


  1. ^ Bruderhof (2012-06-06), Bruderhof History Series - 2 - The German Youth Movement's Influence on the Bruderhof, retrieved 2017-05-25
  2. ^ Mike Tyldesley (2003). No Heavenly Delusion?: A Comparative Study of Three Communal Movements. Liverpool University Press. doi:10.5949/UPO9781846313677. ISBN 978-0-85323-608-5.
  3. ^ Steven E. Aschheim (25 February 1994). The Nietzsche Legacy in Germany: 1890 - 1990. University of California Press. pp. 113–114. ISBN 978-0-520-91480-3.


External links

Berneuchen Movement

Berneuchen Movement (Berneuchener Bewegung) is part of the Lutheran Liturgical movement in Germany. It originates from German Youth Movement.

The movement was born in 1920s, after the radical changes caused by World War I. The founders felt, that it was necessary to give to the spiritual life a greater and more perfect concrete form, in order to throw off the influence of liberal theology. The group met annually in the Berneuchen Manor near Neudamm in the New March, which gave the name for the circle. In 1926 the circle published the Berneuchener Buch, written by Karl Bernhard Ritter, Wilhelm Stählin, Ludwig Heitmann and Wilhelm Thomas.

Berneuchen societies today include Berneuchener Dienst, Evangelische Michaelsbruderschaft and Gemeinschaft Sankt Michael, and its centre is the Kirchberg convent, the "Berneuchener Haus" near Sulz am Neckar in Baden-Württemberg.

The Berneuchen movement has put emphasis e.g. on Bible reading, daily office and celebration of Eucharist. The movement has been an important field of Christian ecumenism.

The annual "Das Gottesjahr" was published 1921-1940 and since 1952 the journal "Quatember" has been edited four times a year by Berneuchen societies.

Deutsche Jungenschaft vom 1.11.1929

The Deutsche Jungenschaft vom 1.11.1929, abbreviated dj.1.11, was a youth group within the German Youth Movement.

Eberhard Koebel

Eberhard Koebel (also Eberhard Köbel, called tusk [i.e. "the German"]; June 22, 1907–August 31, 1955) was a German youth leader, writer, and publisher.

Eberhard Koebel was born in Stuttgart on June 22, 1907. From the age of 13, in 1920, Koebel was a member of the Wandervogel. Koebel soon became a leader in the movement, inventing the Kohte, a tent design that consists of several smaller canvas panels that are carried by individuals and then assembled when they reach the campsite.

In 1926 Koebel joined the Deutsche Freischar, a fusion of Wandervogel and Scout organizations; a year later, he advocated the formation of a unified German youth association for boys. On November 1, 1929 Koebel established the dj 1.11.. In the beginning secret conspiracy within the Deutsche Freischar to renew and mobilize it, it later broke off, when the leader of the Freischar, Ernst Buske, no longer accepted an organisation within the organisation. As leader of the Jungenschaft Koebel designed the Kohte and a particular jacket, the Jungenschaftsjacke. With these and other elements as songs and writings he created a very influential style within the German Youth Movement. In the spring of 1932, hoping to make a more effective resistance to the Nazis, he resigned as head of DJ 1.11. and joined the Young Communist League and the Communist Party of Germany.

On January 18, 1934, about a year after Hitler's seizure of power, Koebel was arrested for trying to infiltrate the Hitler Youth. After being severely maltreated in custody several times, he was released from Columbia Haus Prison in Berlin at the end of February 1934, and banned from future youth work. During the Night of the Long Knives of June 30, 1934, when Hitler not only purged the Nazi Party of leftists but settled other scores as well, Koebel narrowly missed being murdered by fleeing via Sweden to London. On his travel to Sweden Koebel visited a Scout group of the Sturmtrupp-Pfadfinder, which was led by his university friend Erich Mönch. In England, Koebel kept in contact with the Free German Movement. Koebel returned to Berlin in 1948 and worked as a writer and author in East Germany until his death on August 31, 1955.

Edelweiss Pirates

The Edelweiss Pirates (Edelweißpiraten) were a loosely organized group of youth in Nazi Germany. They emerged in western Germany out of the German Youth Movement of the late 1930s in response to the strict regimentation of the Hitler Youth. Similar in many ways to the Leipzig Meuten, they consisted of young people, mainly between the ages of 14 and 17, who had evaded the Hitler Youth by leaving school (which was allowed at 14) and were also young enough to avoid military conscription, which was only compulsory from the age of 17 onward. The roots and background of the Edelweiss Pirates movement were detailed in the 2004 film Edelweiss Pirates, directed by Niko von Glasow.

Free German Youth

The Free German Youth, also known as the FDJ (German: Freie Deutsche Jugend), is a youth movement in Germany. Formerly it was the official youth movement of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the Socialist Unity Party of Germany.The organization was meant for young people, both male and female, between the ages of 14 and 25 and comprised about 75% of the young population of former East Germany. In 1981–1982, this meant 2.3 million members. After being a member of the Thälmann Pioneers, which was for schoolchildren ages 6 to 14, East German youths would usually join the FDJ.The FDJ was intended to be the "reliable assistant and fighting reserve of the Worker's Party", or Socialist Unity Party of Germany, was a member of the National Front and had representatives in the People's Chamber. The political and ideological goal of the FDJ was to influence every aspect of life of young people in the GDR, distribution of Marxism–Leninism and the promotion of communist behavior. Membership in the FDJ was nominally voluntary. However, those who did not join lost access to organized holidays, and found it difficult (if not impossible) to be admitted to universities, pursue chosen careers etc. The majority of youths who refused to join did so for religious reasons.While the movement was intended to promote Marxist–Leninist ideology among East Germany's young people, it did not concentrate on this to the exclusion of other activities. It arranged thousands of holidays for young people through its Jugendtourist agency, and ran discos and open-air rock concerts. The Festival of Political Songs was an officially sponsored event from 1970 to 1990.

Gustav Adolf Lenk

Gustav Adolf Lenk (October 15, 1903 - 1987) was a German political activist. Lenk was the founder of the Youth League of the Nazi Party, the predecessor of the Hitler Youth.


A Heerhaufen, also Haufen or Haufe, was the name given to unorganised or poorly organised paramilitary troops and auxiliaries in Central Europe during the Early Modern Period. The term is German and is sometimes translated "company" or "troops".

The term Haufe was used especially during the peasants' wars and Thirty Years' War for a body of men, sometimes of several thousand armed peasants or Landsknechten, often with as part of a grassroots democracy movement (c.f the Heeresversammlungs of antiquity), and therefore more loosely organised than the smaller and strictly military units known as Fähnleins.

The well known German Youth Movement song "Wir sind des Geyers schwarze Haufen" ("We are Geyer's black Haufen") recalls the notion of the Haufen.

The German name for a forlorn hope is Verlorener Haufen ("Lost Haufen").

Hitler Youth

The Hitler Youth (German: Hitlerjugend , often abbreviated as HJ in German) was the youth organisation of the Nazi Party in Germany. Its origins dated back to 1922 and it received the name Hitler-Jugend, Bund deutscher Arbeiterjugend ("Hitler Youth, League of German Worker Youth") in July 1926. From 1933 until 1945, it was the sole official youth organisation in Germany and was partially a paramilitary organisation; it was composed of the Hitler Youth proper for male youths aged 14 to 18, the German Youngsters in the Hitler Youth (Deutsches Jungvolk in der Hitler Jugend or "DJ", also "DJV") for younger boys aged 10 to 14, and the League of German Girls (Bund Deutsche Mädel or "BDM").

With the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945, the organisation de facto ceased to exist. On 10 October 1945, the Hitler Youth and its subordinate units were outlawed by the Allied Control Council along with other Nazi Party organisations. Under Section 86 of the Criminal Code of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Hitler Youth is an "unconstitutional organisation" and the distribution or public use of its symbols, except for educational or research purposes, is illegal.


The Kohte [ˈkoːtə] is the typical tent of German Scouting and the German Youth Movement. It has several unusual features, including its distinctive black colour and its design to allow a central fire.

Kreisau Circle

The Kreisau Circle (German: Kreisauer Kreis) (1940–1944) was a group of about twenty-five German dissidents led by Helmuth James von Moltke, who met at his estate in the rural town of Kreisau, Silesia. The circle was composed of men and a few women from a variety of backgrounds, including those of noble descent, devout Protestants and Catholics, professionals, socialists, and conservatives. Despite their differences, the members of the Kreisau Circle found common interest in their opposition to Hitler's Nazi regime on both moral and religious grounds. At their meetings, the circle discussed how they would reorganize the German government after the end of the Third Reich. Although the circle did not promote violent overthrow of the regime, their planning was considered by the Nazis to be treasonous as it rested on the assumption that Germany would lose the war. The group began to falter after Helmuth von Moltke was arrested by the Gestapo in January 1944 and eventually came to an end when most of its members were arrested following Claus von Stauffenberg's attempt on Hitler's life on 20 July 1944.

Ludwigstein Castle

Ludwigstein Castle (German: Burg Ludwigstein) is a 15th-century castle overlooking the river Werra and surrounded by beautiful woodland. It stands southwest of the town of Witzenhausen in North Hesse and can easily be reached by car or train and bus. Founded in 1415 the castle's buildings today were built in the 16th and 20th centuries.

The Wandervogel and German Youth Movement joined its history when they joined together to save the castle. They bought the castle, renovated it, and founded a memorial for the Wandervogel that were killed in the First World War. The group that was founded in 1945 still takes an active part in the history of the castle and in its support.

The castle's youth education centre (Jugendbildungsstätte) offers both daily programs and weekend seminars, ranging from ecological topics to music and political education. Also on site is the Archive of the German Youth Movement with its own library and special collection to be studied.

The castle is today the main centre of the Bündische Jugend and many German Scouting associations. The Archive of the German Youth Movement shelters estates of important persons.

Since a longer time it is an hostel in a beautiful and real ancient ambiance with up to 180 beds and different meetingrooms.

At the official homepage you can find additional informations - in German language only.

Please use the external link "Foundation Jugendburg Ludwigstein".

Knud Ahlborn (1888–1977)

Ellen Gregori (1897–1981)

Eberhard Koebel (1907–1955) founder of 'Deutsche Jungenschaft vom 1.11.1929'

Alexander Lion (1870–1962) founder of first German Scout Organization 'Deutscher Pfadfinderbund'

Karl Otto Paetel (1906–1975)

Gertrud Prellwitz (1869–1942)

Gustav Wyneken (1875–1964)

Paul Alverdes

Paul Alverdes (6 May 1897, Strasbourg - 28 February 1979, Munich) was a German novelist and poet.

The son of an officer and member of the German Youth Movement, he volunteered for duty in World War I and received a severe injury to the throat. After 1922 he was a freelance author in Munich, and from 1934 to 1944, along with Karl Benno von Mechow, he edited and published the journal Das innere Reich. Alverdes's work was influenced by the youth movement and by the World War I front experience, whose purifying and "transforming" power he praised. Nonetheless, he was only moderately popular with National Socialists because he lacked an "activist-dynamic attitude". After 1945 he mainly wrote stories for children.

Rainer Eppelmann

Rainer Eppelmann (German pronunciation ) (born 12 February 1943 in Berlin), is a German politician. Known for his opposition in the German Democratic Republic, he became Minister for Disarmament and Defense in the last cabinet. He is now a member of the CDU.

The erection of the Berlin Wall forced him to drop out of the school he had attended in West Berlin in 1961 and he was forbidden from taking his Abitur exams in the East for refusing to join the Free German Youth movement. He then worked as an assistant to a roofer before doing a job training for bricklayer. He is a pacifist. In 1966, for refusing both regular service and Bausoldat (construction soldier in the National People's Army), he was put into prison for eight months.

Later, he studied Theology at the theological school in Berlin, an education he completed in 1974 with two exams. He then worked as a Lutheran pastor in Berlin-Friedrichshain and took part in the opposition, such as being the editor of samizdat publications with Thomas Welz. It has been claimed that during this period Eppelmann had contact with the CIA.In 1990, Eppelmann was one of the founding fathers of the Democratic Awakening, becoming its president. Thus, he took an active part in the round table of 1990, preparing the German reunification. From 18 March 1990 to 2 October 1990 (when it ceased to exist) he was a member of the Volkskammer. He became a Minister in the cabinet of Hans Modrow and later in the one of Lothar de Maizière. When the Democratic Awakening joined the Christian Democratic Union in August 1990, Eppelmann became a member and, later, the assisting chairman of the worker's division of the CDU, the CDA.

He was a member of the Bundestag from 1990 to 2005 for the Christian Democratic Union. Then, he was chairman of the commission that coped with the history of the German Democratic Republic.

Eppelmann's trademark is his "Berliner Schnauze", an idiom that is supposed to bring him close to the people of Berlin.

He is married and has five children.

Reichverbandes des Bundes der deutschen Landjugend

Reichverbandes des Bundes der deutschen Landjugend (R.d. B.d.d.L.j.), generally called Landjugend, ('Country Youth') was an ethnic German youth movement in interbellum Czechoslovakia, politically related to the Farmers' League. The organization was founded in 1919. By 1922, Landjugend had 16,000 members.

Rolf Gardiner

Henry Rolf Gardiner (5 November 1902 – 26 November 1971) was an English rural revivalist, helping to bring back folk dance styles including Morris dancing and sword dancing. He founded groups significant in the British history of organic farming. He was said to have sympathised with Nazism and participated in inter-war far right politics, but this was speculation based on his approval of the German Youth Movement's aims of involving townspeople in country community life, such as helping with the harvest. He organised summer camps with music, dance and community aims across class and cultures. His forestry methods were far ahead of their time and he was a founder member of The Soil Association.

Wanderungen durch die Mark Brandenburg

Wanderungen durch die Mark Brandenburg ("Ramblings through Brandenburg", "Rambles in Brandenburg" or "Walks through the March of Brandenburg") is a five-volume travelogue by the German writer Theodor Fontane, originally published in 1862–1889. It is his longest work and forms a bridge between his early career as a poet and his later novels. It covers the history, architecture, and people of the region as well as its landscape, and influenced the German Youth Movement of the early twentieth century.


Wandervogel is the name adopted by a popular movement of German youth groups from 1896 onward. The name can be translated as rambling, hiking, or wandering bird (differing in meaning from "Zugvogel" or migratory bird) and the ethos is to shake off the restrictions of society and get back to nature and freedom. Soon the groups split and they originated ever more organisations, which still all called themselves Wandervogel, but were organisationally independent. Nonetheless the feeling was still of being a common movement, but split into several branches.

Wenn alle untreu werden

"Wenn alle untreu werden, so bleiben wir doch treu" (If all become unfaithful, we remain loyal) is the opening line of a famous patriotic German popular song written by Max von Schenkendorf in 1814. Schenkendorf dedicated the song to Friedrich Ludwig Jahn for the "holy German Empire".

The melody was a slightly modified form of Pour aller à la chasse faut être matineux, a French hunting song dating from 1724.

The title also refers to a German hymn of the same name, written by the German poet Novalis in 1799. The first two lines of this hymn are the same as in Schenkendorf's song.Gerhard Roßbach included the song in the activities of his German Youth Movement in which "its emphasis on loyalty in adversity and faith in Germany precisely fit Roßbach's desire to unify conservative forces behind a project of political and cultural renewal." During the Third Reich the song was used extensively by the Nazi SS, and became known as Treuelied (song of faithfulness).

White Rose

The White Rose (German: die Weiße Rose) was a non-violent, intellectual resistance group in the Third Reich led by a group of students and a professor at the University of Munich. The group conducted an anonymous leaflet and graffiti campaign that called for active opposition to the Nazi party regime. Their activities started in Munich on 27 June 1942, and ended with the arrest of the core group by the Gestapo on 18 February 1943. They, as well as other members and supporters of the group who carried on distributing the pamphlets, faced show trials by the Nazi People's Court (Volksgerichtshof), and many of them were sentenced to death or imprisonment.

The group wrote, printed and initially distributed their pamphlets in the greater Munich region. Later on, secret carriers brought copies to other cities, mostly in the southern parts of Germany. In total, the White Rose authored six leaflets, which were multiplied and spread, in a total of about 15,000 copies. They denounced the Nazi regime's crimes and oppression, and called for resistance. In their second leaflet, they openly denounced the persecution and mass murder of the Jews. By the time of their arrest, the members of the White Rose were just about to establish contacts with other German resistance groups like the Kreisau Circle or the Schulze-Boysen/Harnack group of the Red Orchestra. Today, the White Rose is well-known both within Germany and worldwide.

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