Boys' Clothes for Outings to the Park: German National Styles

Figure 1--Here we have an interesting photo showing boys' clothes in Berlin in 1930. It is a summer day and people are strolling in the Volkspark Friedrichshain which has a large fountain dating from 1913. The boys are rather formally dressed, certainly not in play clothes.

We have very little information about German parks at this time. We know that all large German cities had parks. We do not know the chronology of their development or if there were any destinctive aspects to German parks. Hopefully our German readers will provide us some insights. The amble German photographic record Provides many glimses of Germans enjoying the many well kept urban parks, often as family groups. A reader has provided us a view of a Berlin part in 1930. This is also an interesting glimse at a post-World War I German family. Notice the small size of the family. Declining birth rates was an issue that the NAZIs wrestled with when they seized power in the 1930s.

Specific Parks

We do not have much information on specific German parks. We believe that is because we are not as familiar with Germany as some other countries such as America, England, and France with a number of internernationally recognized parks. Hopefully our German readers will tell us something about German parks. We note public spaces in front of the Kaiser's Berlin palace with people and children enjoying themselves before World War I. We are not sure what this was called. Here is a scene from the Volkspark Friedrichshain in Berlin (figure 1). There is a large lake in the southwestern quadrant of Berlin--Wannsee. It is not a park itself, but is widely used by Berliners for recreation. The Potsdam palaces there of the former German imperial family. A major World war II Allied conference was held there (1945). Wannsee lake itself is the most important swimming and boating recreation area for Berliners, including isolated West Berliners during the Cold War. The Strandbad Wannsee is an open-air lido with one of the longest inland beaches in all Europe. A well known park in Germany is the Niederwalddenkmal a kind of national monument near Rüdesheim am Rhein. It commemorates the unification of Germany under the Prussian monarchy. This occurred with Wilhemn I was crowne kaiser in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. But the Germans could hardly build their nationl momument near Paris. So the chose a magnificent site on the high ground verlooking the Rhine River at the edge of a dense forrest--the Niederwald. The connection is that it was in the dorest whre Armenius defeated the Roman legions, often seen as the birth of the German nation. And the site overlooks the Rhine, commonly see as geographic gardian of the German nation a expressed in the Watch on the Rhine.


German parks tended to be very formal. They were not places for children to come and run all over the grass. There were many formal gardens, a traditiin dating back to European royalty. Signs commonly warned peope to stay off the grass and keep on the walking paths. Park authprities were often quite strict about this.


The 1920s

We notice a German family on an outing in an unidentified German park duting the 1920s.

The 1930s

Parks were a very important part of German city life. And Germany had many wonderful city parks. When the NAZIs took over, one of the strps they took to humiliate and make life difficult for Jews was to prohibit them from city parks. This was done piecemeal by municipal authorities. Here we have an interesting photo showing boys' clothes in Berlin in 1930. It is a summer day and people are strolling in the Volkspark Friedrichshain which has a large fountain dating from 1913. The boys are rather formally dressed, certainly not in play clothes. In the foreground a boy about 8 or 9 years old is having an outing with his parents. He wears a dark short pants sailor suit with black long stockings and low cut black shoes, a very standard, popular dress-up costume in Germany at the time. The parents look well-to-do and are probably part of the Berlin middle class, although it was less common for affluent parents to crop boy's hair so closely by the 1930s. At the left, nearer the fountain, we see two somewhat older boys, probably about 10-11 years old. The one facing away from the fountain wears a dark short pants suit with a white shirt the large collar of which opens out over the jacket of his suit. He wears dark ankle socks with low-cut shoes. The boy standing next to him, facing the fountain, wears his school cap, a grey woolen short pants suit and also ankle socks. German boys in 1930 sometimes wore ankle socks in the hotter months, even with dress-up clothes. In the cooler seasons they wore either long stockings or knee socks. Long stockings were usually considered more formal and dressier.

The 1940s

We note a scene in an unidentified Berlin park early in the war, probably Spring 1940. Later in the War, the parks in Berlin and the other major German cities were largely destroyed, including the zoos.

The 1950s

We note new construfction in German parks in the 1950s. The Allied strategic bombing campaign targetted the major cities where the country's industry was located. Thus many parks were destroyed and the cities reduced to rubbel. We have few details but suspect that the parks were repaired and restored during the late-1940s and early 50s. Presumably the parks would have been one facility that most cities would have wanted to get back to normal as soon as possible to provide a pleasnt recreational area. And they would have been realytively easy to repair, although the trees and gardens woyld take some time to get back to normal. We do not know if any major new parks were constructed. There surely would have been areas art the time that could have been easily cleared as such large areas in most cities were left just piles of rubbel. Available images suggest that German parks continied to be rather formal places for strolls through gardems and trees with few dedicated play areas for children. Perhaps there were special parks for children, but we do not yet have details about this.

The 1960s

We have little information on how German parks changed in the 1960s. Parks are urban facilities and thus important German parks must have been damaged in the War when German cities were reduced to rubbel by Allied bombing. They would have been. however, relatively easy to repair because unlike other city areas, parks did not require major construction projecrs. We suspect that by the 1960s that German parks were back to normal. We do not know much about specific German parks or if any new parks were built in the 1960s. The parks that we note seem rather sedate places for people including families to stroll anong trees and gardens. There may have been parks with facilities more focused on children, but we have not yet found images showing such facilities. One noticeable development was the more casual clothes worn by children. We see the same outfits we commonly see in school. Boys commonly wore short pants, but less common were suits and other dressy outfits. We note adults still often dressed up for visits to important parks.

Family Size

This is also an interesting glimse at a post-World War I German family. Notice the small size of the family. Declining birth rateswas an issue that the NAZIs wrestled with when they seized power in the 1930s.

Zoological Parks

The first zoos in Europe were the menagerie of royaly. Louis XIV was noted for his menagerie at Versailles. Modern zoos were a Victorian innovation as the rising middle class began demanding parks, libraries, and other public facilities. The first zoo in Germany was the Berlin zoo. This was also one of the first European zoos. Berlin at the time was the capital of the rising state of Prussia. The zoo was opened (1844). The cages were designed by Peter Lenne. Exibits displayed thousands of animals. The Berlin zoo became one of the finest in Europe. It like other German zoos was destroyed by the Allied bombing. The Zoo was rebuilt after the War and is again a premier world zoological institution. For more than a century and a half the Berlin Zoo has provided wonderful experiences for children and adults. Since World war II another important wildlife experience opened in Germany--adventure parks (wild animal and safari parks) . These facilities now are not just for public display, but play an important part in the preservation and conservation of wildlife. There are about 300 public animal collections in Germany of varying descripotions from majoe zoos to butterfly parks. The most important in addition to the Berlin Zoo include: Cologne Zoo, Frankfurt (Kronberg) - Opel Zoo, Frankfurt Zoo, Hamburg - Hagenbeck Zoo, Hanover Adventure Zoo, Leipzig Zoo, Munich - Hellabrunn Zoo, Nuremberg Zoo, Stuttgart - Wilhelma Zoological & Botanical Gardens

Barefoot Parks

Germany has many barefoot-parks and many children visit them. This is a trend which began in Europe during the 1990s. It is primarily centered in Germany and Austria, although there are barefoot parks in some other countries. There are now several hundred of these parks set up. Various groups manage these parks, inclusding municipalities. The parks offer people the experience of walking barefoot for a distance. The longest walks are about 3 miles. The parks are frequented by young adults, families, school groups, and others. The walkers have the opportunity to feel natural ground and various materials with the bare soles of their feet. There is a facility at the beginning of each hike for the walkers to store their shoes and sandals in shelves and lockers. Then at the end there are facilities to wash their feet. Visitors enjoy various activities such as climbing and walking through streams and rivers. Many barefoot parks have special facilities for children such as playgrounds.


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Created: 3:22 AM 9/12/04
Last updated: 1:17 AM 1/31/2019