German Youth Trips:  Group-Social/Cultural Vacation Experiences

Figure 1.--Here we see a group of German boys in 1930, presumably a school class on an outing. We don't see the teacher because he probably took the photograph. We do not know, however, if this is a school field trip or a Schullandheim experience. A German reader writes, "I can't tell if this is a 1-day school field trip into the countryside or a trip from a Schullandheim. There is no specific indication here."

Many Germam schools organize cultural experiences for the students after the school year in the summer. The primary purpose of these experiences seem to have been a group experience for the younger children and both a social and cultural experience for the older children. The trips afforded the children the opportunity to learn something about other areas of the country. Often it incvolved city children spending time in more rural ares of the country. It also has something of an American summer camp experience, although the setting and accomodations are normally not rustic. Usually a teacher from the school will accompany and supervise the children and youth. Similar experiences were also organized by other groups including religious groups, factory organizations and political parties, although the school trips were the most common.


We are not yet sure about the chronology of these group experiences. There were different types and the chronology differs for the various types of these group experiences. We think they were primarily a development after World War I. We do not know why the idea that such trips would be beneficial developed at this tome. It does not seem to have been an idea that was prevalent in the rest of Europe. Perhaps because pf the difficult economic situation, it was to provide children of modest meanns a summer experience in healthy environment. We see many photographs of German children, probanly mostly school groups, in the country side during the 1920s and 30s. We are not sure what happened during World War II. And we note groups after the War in the 1950s. We are not sure, however, if these are school field trips are children at Schullandheim. We know these group experiences were very common after World War II, but we are not sure just when this tradition began in Germany. Nor do we know much about the current status.

Vacation Trips

During school vacations trips are often organized for the children. This includes children both at the primary and seconf=dary level. The children may be organized by school groups, but church group are also common. These events can be organised by city municipal governments. They are also rganized by political parties or large compsany for their workes. This can take place during the summer or winter holidays. Our German reader writes, "I remember being with some of my school mates between 1950 and 1954 in the Xmas holidays for skiing in the Alps, organised by and living in a mountain refuge owned by the City of Stuttgart (for curiosity, the main group was a very left wing party's youth group, with which we shared travelling and, in the evenings, we had hard political discussions, we coming from a highly reputated, old gymnasium and from at least middle class families)."


A German reader tells us, "My son was in 1982 during the Eastern holidays with our priest in a "Konfirmanden-Freizeit" before the protestantic confirmation, 14 years old."


German summer school children between 12 and 16 years of age go for a week to a "Schullandheim" with one of their teachers, to learn about rural life in a region nearby or - the elder ones - more far away, to play together, sport activities, singing, hiking. every year. A German reader writes, "I remember that my class of 16 year olds in 1951 from my home city Stuttgart went from the the very south of Germany to the very north, Schleswig-Holstein along the sea, for a 2-week stay. We learned about the different life in the flat countryside, behind the high dunes erected as a provision against heavy storms in fall and winter from the sea, the animaly and plants there at the meadows and at the beach, the emergency provisions for ships etc. It was very interesting. Children of the same age - at least shortly after the war - came from the north to the south with the high mountains in the Alpes. (Today they probably make even longer holidays travelling around the world with the parents!) The "Schullandheime" (this is the plural form of the word) are owned and run by a state or community." A German reader tells us, "I would not emphasize the "cultural experience" for the youngsters, 12 to 16 years old. It is more a group experience, away from home and away from the parents. Elder ones, yes, social and cultural experience."


Jugenderholungspflege means Youth Recretion Care. It was an NSV program to get at risk undeprovlidged city kids out into the countryside during school vacations where they got good food and plenty of fresh air and sunshine. We are not sure if this was part of the NSV Hilfsfwerk (Relief) effort or a different section of the NSV. This was not a progran initiated by the NAZIs, but a Weimar program taken over by the NSV as they gained comntrol of welfare prograns and fund raising. We do not yet have much information about the orogram and the number of children involved. We notice large numbers of German in various kinds of group homes. We see these images before, during, and after the NAZI era. Some of them may be associated with the Jugenderholungspflege program. We think there were other programs that also operated group homes for both boys and girls. Most of these would have been operated by the NSV during the NAZI era, but we still have very limited information..


Sometimes the classes go to "Jugendherbergen" (youth hostels) or even small hotels and pensions. A German reader writes, "In Schleswig-Holstein we lived in a small hotel with northern food - which we didn't like much, it was an experience! All second level classes from Stuttgart, certainly more than 1,000 youngsters, went together by train to this small village in early June when the hotels are not occupied by adult tourists in this vacation region to the north of Hamburg."

Group Homes

We have seen some photographs of German children at what looked to us like group homes. We thought that might be children being cared for as part of a health program, but they may instead be school children participating in these cultural experiences.

Youth Trips

We note many photogrphs of German youth trips in the 20th century. Unfortunately few are labeled. Most of the photographs are from the era after Word War I in the 1920s. Unfortunately few are labeled. Thus we do not know just what kind of trips they are. We are also uncertain about the chronology of youth trips. We do not know when school field trips became common. Nor do we know when the various types of youth trips discussed on thi page began. Often an adult is present in the photograph, but we have no way of knowing if the adult is a teacher or other leader when the groups are organized by churches, political parties, or other organization. Also we do not know if the groups are fild trips during the dayor a multi day trip. We are not sure just how to assess these photographs. One factor may be the setting. Is it a location that a school group could reasonably reach in a dy trip. Remember that few schools at the time had busses. Perhaps our German reader will have insights on how to assess these photographs.


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Created: 6:55 PM 5/29/2006
Last updated: 10:38 PM 1/22/2007