German Nationalist Youth Groups: Wandervogel Activities--Camping and Hiking

Figure 1.--These Wandervogel boys in 1904 are having a snack and rest after a hike in the country. I think the camp are their school caps, not a Wandervogel cao.

Hiking had become a popular activity in Germany in the late 19th century, especially in the 1990s. Hiking brought Germans to the beautiful forests in their country, an important elelement of the country's symbolic national landscape and psyche. It was in the Teutoburg Forest, for example, that the Roman Army suffered perhaps its greatest military disaster and, as a result, is often seen as the birth place of the German nation. Few German groups embraced hiking with the same vigor as Wandervogel. Wandervogel was especially interested in map reading seeing maps as a tool to help free themselves from tourist guidebooks. A Wondervogel publication, "The Topographical Map," leaders announced that members now had alternatives to what they considered to be unsatisfactory school atlases for their camping and hiking excursions. [Wandervogel, "Die Landkarte,".] The German War Ministry in 1910 began publishing detailed regional topographical maps which were sold at prices young people could afford. Wandervogel leaders suggested that members should acquire a map for their own Heimat and learn the landscape their hometown as if it were the back of their hand. Wandervogel advised that " ... a more complete man must also be able to hike without guidance and not be helpless when he is by himself." [Moranda]


Koch, H.W. The Hitler Youth: Origins and Development 1922-1945.

Moranda, Scott. "Maps, Markers and Bodies: Hikers Constructing the Nation in German Forests", The Nationalism Project, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI. 2001).


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Created: 5:19 AM 9/11/2004
Last updated: 5:19 AM 9/11/2004