We have little historical information on German Scouts. The first important German youth movement was Wandervogel. We do know that Scouting developed in Germany in the 1910s as it did throughout Germany. As in many other European countries, separate Scout associations were fornmed by different groups, primarily on religious lines. Scouting does not appear to have been as popular in Germany as in other European countres. After World War I, other competing youth groups formed. Many religious groups founded youth movements or sposored Scout units. With the coming to power of the NAZIs in 1933, the Scouts and almost other competing youth groups were abolished and boys had to join the Hitler Youth. Only after the defeat of the NAZIs in 1945 were the Scouts allowed to reorganize in Germany. Uniforms declined in popularity during the late 20th century. Several different Scout associations operated. Many Scout groups gave only minimal attention to uniform. Americans expecting to find one national Scout Association will be bewildered by the many different German associations reflecting different religious or philosopical approach to Scouting. Many Associations are associated with specific Christian churches whil others are secular. Most Scout associations combine previously separate Guide (Girl Scout) and Scout associations. There are some destinctive features to German Scouting. The Scouting movement as conceived by Baden Powell had certainly patriotic even militaristic features. The milataistic aspect was somewhat toned down in Britain, America, France, and other countries as Scouting developed. The NAZIs upon seizing power in 1933, banned Scouting but adopted the militaristic featurs and expanded them in the Hitler Youth program. The role that the Hitler Youth played in the Third Reich continues to affect German Scouting today.
We have some limited historical information on German Scouting. Scouting hs never been a dominant youth movement in Germany as it was in many European countries. Unlike many countries, Germany had its own well established youth movement--the Wandervogel. Baden Powell considered the Wandervogel as a kind of German Boy Scouts. World War I occurred only a few years after Scouting was founded. After the War, Scouting was part of a a very diverse German youth movement. It may have been impaired to some degree by its association with the British. Scouting was banned by the NAZIs when they seized power in 1933. After World War II Scouting was revived in the western occupation zones of Germany, but banned by the Communists in the Soviet occupation zone. . We are not sure how popular Scouting was in West Germany. By the 1970s, however, the idea of wearing a uniform begame rather unpopularin Germany and serious attention to uniforms virtually disappeared.
Americans expecting to find one national Scout Association will be bewildered by the many different German associations reflecting different religious or philosopical approach to Scouting. Many Associations are associated with specific Christian churches whil others are secular. Most Scout associations combine previously separate Guide (Girl Scout) and Scout associations. Many of these German Scout "associations" or only as large as the average American or English Scout troop, some have a few hundred or thousand members, and a few have between 10 and 100 thousand members. It is very difficult to even tell how many associations there are, let alone to list them. There is a neverending starting and closing of "associations". A counting of all the small and smallest Guide or Scout associations would produce a list of about 50 associations.
German Scouting, as is the case in many European coyntries, is divided into many separate Scout associatiins. Thus assessing the many diferent associations is a complicated matter. We have noted several different associatins. The Bund der Pfadfinderinnen und Pfadfinder is interdenominational and coeducational. The Deutscher Pfadfinderbundis is interdenominational. Both boys and girls participate, but in separated groups. The Guide and Scout Union follows the tradition of the German interdenominational Scout Movement (founded in 1911) and the Girl Guide Movement (founded in 1912). It resulted from a merger of the German Guide Union and the Scout Union on January 1, 1976. The association is open to boys and girls of all spiritual convictions. The Deutsche Pfadfinderschaft St. George is a Catholic coeducational group. The German Saint George Scouting Association sees itself as an independent group of young Catholics and their leaders, and trains young people for a life of hope, independence, active solidarity and truth. About 80 percent of the units in all age sections are coeducational. The programme aims to help young people achieve selfreliance and cooperation through the Scouting method. An annual project helps strengthen international contacts and engages in community development projects in developing countries. Der Deutsche Pfadfinderbund besteht aus einem Jungenbund, einem Mädchenbund und dem Orden St. Georg über der Jungenschaft als gleichberechtigten Bundesteilen. Jungen und Mädchen bilden getrennte Gruppen. HBU has found some information about this German Scout association, unfortunately it is all in German. The Deutscher Pfadfinderverband e.V. is interdenominational and coeducational. It is the parent organisation of 17 different associations. The Pfadfinderinnenschaft St. George is a catholic association for girls only. The Verband Christlicher Pfadfinderinnen und Pfadfinder association is protestant and coeducational. This is a Protestant Association. In sharing Christian understanding of openness, freedom and love, the association is open to girls and boys of all faiths. Most of the trops at all levels are coeducational. All leader training is carried out on a coeducational basis. Based on the gospel of Jesus, great emphasis is placed on environmental and inter-cultural education, international relations and education for peace. There is a broad range of activities that are organized mainly on a county level. These include working with handicapped young people, promoting the rights of children in society, community service, education for peace, environmental education and support of special projects in developing countries. Decision-making is democratic through a system which offers members at all levels real opportunities to express their opinions. All members are therefore well represented in the main decision-making process at annual general meetings. There are also many some smaller associations.
One of the dividing line between German Scouts has been religion. While the Wandervogel movement was a non-denominational Christian groups (Jews were often excluded), many Scouts groups were organized on a religious basis. The Cathlolic Scouts often insisted on a separate group. This was not the case in America where there is only one association. The organization of Scout troops around churches and schools, however, often meant that Catholic Scouts were in separate troops. The Protestants were less concerned about separate groups, but we notice a Baptist association. These assocviations were members of the German Youth Associastion until taken over by the NAZIs (1933). The Catholic youth associsations were allowed a few more yearts of independent existence. After World war II, SDcouting was reestablisdhed. The Scouting movement is the Ring deutscher Pfadfinderverbände which includes Catholic and other associations.
We believe that German Scouts have the same levels as other Scout groups around the world. We assume that there are Cubs, Scouts, and Rovers, although we have no details nor do we know what the Japanese terms for the different Scouting levels. We have noted some images that seem to be Cubs, but we have yet to obtain any inormation on German Cubbing or other Scouting levels. Hopefully our German readers can provide us some details to better understand this aspect of Scouting. Scoutung has never been as popular in Germany as in many other European countries. This may have affected the ability of Scouter organizers to recruit groups large enough to have all of the different Scout levels.
As there is only one organization per country recognized by the World-Organisations, BdP, PSG and VCP are united in the parent organization RDP (Ring Deutscher Pfadfinderinnenverbände) which is the German member of WAGGGS whereas BdP, DPSG and VCP form the RdP (Ring Deutscher Pfadfinderverbände) which represents Germany at WOSM.
We have only limited information on German Scout uniforms at this time. Early German Scout uniforms were very similar to English Scout uniforms, which was quite common in the early days of Scouting. Scouting was abloished by the NAZIs in 1933 and new uniforms were introduced after World War II when Scouting was introduced. Immediately after the War, conditions in Germany were very difficult. Few boys had the money to purchase a Scout uniform. There is no nation-wide German Scout uniform as there is no one German Scout association. HBU at this time does not have details on the various uniforms adopted by the different German Scout associations. After World War II, Scout uniforms were intially worn, but by the 1970s uniforms began to beconme less popular with German boys. A wide variety of uniforms have been worn by the various German Scouts. In the early years from the 1910s until they were banned by the NAZIs, the German Scouts wore a short pants uniform similar to British Scouts. After the war, German Scouts were restablished and the many different associations adopted a wide variety of uniforms, all with short pants. As German boys began to less commonly wear shorts, the attention to Scout uniforms tended to decline, especilly in the 1970s. Currently Scouts can often be found wearing Scout shirts with badges with jeans or other non-uniform long pants. German boys have worn many of tghge same uniform items popular with Scouts in other countries. Lederhosen or leather shorts were especially popular in Germany although boys in other counties have also worn them. German Scouts also adopted Scout items worn in other countries like the French beret.
There are some destinctive features to German Scouting. The Scouting movement as conceived by Baden Powell had certainly patriotic even militaristic features. The milataistic aspect was somewhat toned down in Britain, America, France, and other countries as Scouting developed. The NAZIs upon seizing power in 1933, banned Scouting but adopted the militaristic featurs and expanded them in the Hitler Youth program. The role that the Hitler Youth played in the Third Reich continues to affect German Scouting today. German Scouter Jorg Gastel has bben to the States several times, but is still surprised at how much American and German Scouting differs. He reports, "The American Scouting program is very focused to advancement of the different ranks. We don't run on an advancement program. German Scouts try to minimize military ritual-like activities, fearing their Scouts will resemble the Hitler Youth of the past when the Nazis took over the Scouts in the 1930s."
Tim Scott, A U.S. Scouter who has studied in Germany explains, "German Scouting is still suffering from a burden of history. It's an unfortunate fact of history that when Hitler consolidated youth groups in Germany, he unfortunately chose to keep many of the trappings of the Scouts for the Hitler youth. As a result, American Scouting practices such as saluting the flag, standing at attention for flag-raising and lowering, and using a ranking system are absent in German Scouting because they don't want to be associated with the military." [Chovanec]
German Scouts enjoy the same activitis as Scouts all around the world. There is a long tradition of hiking and camping in Germany dating back to the wanfervogel--the first German uniformed youth group. Many impages of German Scouts show the boys cmping. We have limited information at this time on activities persued by German Scouts. Hopefully our German readers will provide us some information about Scouting activities.
We have only a few personal accounts from German Scouts and foreign Scouts in Germany. BU has receive some accounts from foreign Scouts who had experiences in Germany. We have found some albums and photographic collections from German Scouts. Unfortunately we do not know who they belonged to, but the photographs included provide some interesting insights into German Scouting. Curiously one album appears to show Scouting activities during the Third Reich. This we do not yet understand. These individual experiences pges are especilly valuavle sections of our website and we hope to gradually expand the section.
Chovanec, Jennifer. "With each visit, Scouts build closer friendships: Structures of U.S., German programs differ," Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, July 27, 1998.
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