We believe that summer camps in Germany were primarily organized by youth groups. There may have been some private camps, but we have no information on these at this time. We note images of German boys at camp which we think were taken before World War I. We are not sure what type of camps they were. The boys mostly appear to be wearing kneepants. They are at a camp with substantial facilities. After the NAZI take over in 1933, the camps were all seized by the Hitler Youth. The NAZIs made summer camping a universal experience for nearly all German youth, regardless of their ability to pay. Summer camps were an important part of their program to mold the minds of a generaltion of German youth. Only Hitler Youth members could participate, but this came to mean virtually all healthy Aryan children. Jewsish children were excluded and the summer camps that Jewish youth organizations owned were seized by the Hitler Youth without compensation. While we do not have information on summer camps in general, we have developed ome information on Hitler Youth summer camps.
„Ferienlager“ or „Freizeit“ are common terms for childrens´ camps.
„Kampieren“ has a bad touch in German, so it it not much used (poor people „kampieren“ somewhere outside villages without furniture, toilets etc.). People travelling with the family using a tent or a „Camping-Platz“ with the car say they „go for camping“ (the English term and written with the English „c“ at the beginning of the word“). „Ferienkolonie“ is a term for a asssembly of buildings outside villages where families go to in summer or winter, belonging in most cases to an organisation like a church or the unions; it is meant for adults with children.
We have been unanle to acquire much information about the chronological development of summer camping in Germany. This is undoubtedly because we are unable to access German-language material. Hopefully our German readers will provide some additional information to help further our understanding. Wandervogel helped make hiking and camping a popular national passtime. As far as know, however, this was liking or rambling in the country side rather than at a fixed location owned by the rather informal Wandervogel organization. We note images of German boys at camps before World War I (1914-18). There were facilities at these camps. Not all of them relied solely on tents. We note barracks like structures, but no showers. We also note German camps in the 1920s operated by a wide varietyof youth groups, although we have few details. Much better known is the Hitler Youth (HJ) summer camp program beginnng during the NAZI Third Rich (1933-45). The NAZIs in 1933 abolished most other youth groups besides the HJ and seized their propery. The HJ proceeded to launch a comprehensive summer camp program for every Aryan German boy without regards to the ability of his family to pay. After World War II (1939-45) both the Boy Scouts and other groups in West Germany and the Young Pioneers in East Germany had a smmer camping program. Only the Young Pioneer Program was available to all boys and girls regardless of family income. West Germany hd no free summer camp program, but rising income levels meant most boys could attend summr camp. Th Boy Scouts had the best known program. We believe that three were other summer camps in Germany, including private camps, but we have few detals.
We believe that summer camps in Germany were primarily organized by youth groups. There may have been some private camps, but we have no information on these at this time. We note images of German boys at camp which we think were taken before World War I. We are not sure what type of camps they were. The boys mostly appear to be wearing kneepants. They appear to be camps with substantial facilities. The major German Youth group before World War I was the Wandervogel, but we are not sure that they actually had summer camps. Camping was a major aspect of Wandervogl, but they ppear to have had a more limited organizational structure than other youth groups so we do not know if they actually owned and operated camps. We do know that a vareiety of youth groups operates summer camps in the 1920s, but we have few details as to what groups operated specicific facilities. After the NAZI take over in 1933, the camps were all seized by the Hitler Youth. The NAZIs made summer camping a universal experience for nearly all German youth, regardless of their ability to pay. Summer camps were an important part of their program to mold the minds of a generaltion of German youth. Only Hitler Youth members could participate, but this came to mean virtually all healthy Aryan children. Jewsish children were excluded and the summer camps that Jewish youth organizations owned were seized by the Hitler Youth without compensation. While we do not have information on summer camps in general, we have developed ome information on Hitler Youth summer camps. We know that camping was popular for West Herman Scouts after World War II, but we have no information about Boy Scout camping at this time. We also believe that East German Young Pioneers had an extensive
We have few images from German summer camps before World War I. The available image show the boys wearing long short pants (figure 1). We are not sure bout the hosiery that was commonly worn. We are not sure, however, how representative the few images we have are. We note a variety of other garments like salor suits and smocks. After World War I we note that that boys increasingly wore shorter short pants and kneesock. Presumably Scouts in the 1920s and early 30s wore their Scout uniforms. We are unsure about other camps. After the 1933 NAZI take over, Hitler Youth uniforms were worn the throughout the Third Reich. After World War II, Scout uniform were worn at Scout camps in West Germny. We have no information on other camps. In East Germany Young Pioneer uniforms were worn. We are unsure to what extent the uniforms worn were the same as or differed from the standard uniforms of these youth groups.
We are unsure just who went to summer camp in Germany before World War or even in the 1920s. We suspect that they were mostly reltively prosperous middle-class boys. We are not sure if there were any camping program in Germany like the U.S. YMCA program that allowed boys from moderate income families to go to camp. This changed in 1933 when after seizing power, the NAZIs created a Hitler Youth summr cmping program that was free to all Aryan boys regardless of the families that they came from. This is one aspect of the Third Reich that is not commonly discussed, partly because virtually all NAZI progrms are tainted by the evil nature of the regime. The HJ through their summer camp and other programs did play a major role in tearing down the previously rlatively rigid German class structure. This was coninued in Wast Germany by the Communists after World War II.
Germany is beautiful country prticularly noted for its forrests. Indeed the beginning of Germany in the modern sence can be traced to the defeat of Roman legions in the Teutoburg Forest (9 AD). Prhapd btter known in modern times is the Black Forrest, so named beause of the lush dense forrests. These forrests as well as lakes, rivers, Bltic sea beaches, and mountains provide many wonderful locations for summer camps. Industrial pollution is having a devestating impact on Germny's beautiful forrests--especially the Blck Forrest.
A German reader recalls his camp experiences, "In 1947 (12 years old) I was in a summer camp near Stuttgart in the so called „Schwäbische Alb“ (this are not the „Alpen“ between Germany, Austria and Switzerland!). The organiser was the „Jungschar“, a group for boys - I can`t remember that girls were included, they had another group with another name – of the church community, protestants, were we belonged to, and which I was visiting one afternoon in a week. Boys from 10 up to before the confirmation with 14 years were members. Elder teens involved in youth work of the church community accompanied us. As no appropriate housing was available we had a camp with about 10 tents sponsored by the American army at that time. Their were sport activities and group playing, singing etc, of course also short services. I have no pictures. I think that other churches had/have similar activities.
In German schools it is usual to have a „Schülerfreizeit“ of about a week in each year, the youngsters near to their home, elder pupils now even abroad (e.g., after the „Abitur“ of a Gymnasium). One or two teachers accompany the children. In the 40s and 50s when I went to school it was more or less a socalled „Wandertag“ with one or two overnights in a „Jugendherberge“. I myself can remember such a special Schülerfreizeit of two weeks in 1951 north of Hamburg at the Nordsee (North sea) – all pupils of the age group of our town, I think about 1000, travelled by train to different locations in the North - . We had lessons on the sea, tides, fauna and flora, about the Hallig (marsh-islet) where we were located etc. It was a strong impression for us, pupils from the south of Germany who had have no chance before to come to the sea. No pictures left. A Wandertag in winter which I can also remember was in 1949 or 1950 skiing in the Schwäbische Alb. Our „Abitur-Ausflug“ in 1954 was to the South of the Black Forest, small villages, old farmer building there, the Gothic cathedrals in Freiburg and Straßburg in the Alsace, the Titisee, besides hiking in the forest. And finally, from 1949 up each year I was in the „Alpen“ for skiing for one or two weeks about Xmas with a commercial organiser and later (1953-1960) with a group of my classmates in mountain huts of the Deutscher Alpenverein. Two times (I think in 1952/1953) a good school friend (his father was head of a youth authority of the city where we were living) and myself participated (well, we could use the bus for travelling) in a Skifreizeit of a political youth group in the mountain hut of this authority.
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