The History of Scouting in Germany
The German Scout movement today is very complex. It is possible to meet Scouts in very different uniforms and with very different behaviour and traditions. The reason for this is that in Germany the scout movement was formed in local groups and not, as in other countries, built by a central organisation.
In the year 1901, six years before Brownsea Island, the first groups were already established. The members were not Scouts of course, but the influence of these early Groups, known as Wandervogel is very important in understanding the German Scout tradition up to today. The early years of the last century saw the phase of the industrial revolution. Towns changed their appearance very quickly and a lot of factories were founded. This all happened during a period of very conservative forms of life in family, school and state. The groups of the Wandervogel rebelled against this establishment. Their main theme was: Back to nature, out of the grey walls of the cities. It was a time of rediscovering the romantic element and a lot of folksongs from this time are handed down to the present day. So in a special way, it was a political movement. In 1913, for the first time, the aims of a lot of different groups from this tradition were proclaimed at the Meißner-Meeting.
The prestige youth of Germany will live their life:
In her own responsibility and with inner veracity.
For this fortitude freedom she will united advocate.
All Meetings of the Prestige youth will be non-alcoholic and nicotine-free.
This statement as signed by all the participant groups.
At the same time, in the first twenty years of the 20th century, a different movement was born, the Scout movement. In 1908, a German military Doctor read about Scouting for Boys and decided to write a book with the same ideas especially for young Germans. (The relations between Germany and the United Kingdom were not very good at this time). So, in 1909 the book entitled Der Pfadfinder was published and it was very successful. The biggest difference between Scouting for Boys and Der Pfadfinder was that the latter contained a lot of stories from the German colonies and it was strictly oriented to the German military system. World War I spread over Europe and most of the early leaders of Scouting were killed or missing. After this terrible time a reorganisation was necessary. Groups were constructed in the tradition of the Wandervogel and influenced by Scouting. In a lot of cases they were not controlled by a greater structure and there was fierce competition between them. But the scout movement was reorganised too, and in the following years, these two different movements increased interaction. The official church recognised the huge potential of the young people involved in these groups and tried to profit from it. So in 1920, the first organisation for Protestant Scouts was founded, and in 1929 Catholic Scouts were invited into the DPSG.
The regime of the Nazis halted every kind of youth movement. Every Organisation was forbidden and all young people were ordered into the Nazi organisation for young people. Some refused do it and were repressed, some were arrested and imprisoned, and others were sent to the concentration camps. The majority of the last group didn't survive.
After World War II, under the patronage of the victors in West Germany a lot of old youth federations were reformed. Also, the Scout organisations began their work once more. So, the beginnings of the situation as we know it today came into being.
Today there are three large Scout Associations in Germany, a Protestant Association-VCP, the Catholic Association-DPSG and a non-denominational organisation called BDP. These three associations are combined into a Federation known as the Ring of German Scout Associations, which are members of WOSM and WAGGGS. Besides these three, a lot of other youth groups and organisations exist with roughly 500 known at present.
The DPSG today has nearly 100,000 members, male and female. So in Germany it is the biggest scout organisation and the biggest Catholic organisation for young people. It is divided into 26 districts, 132 Regions and ca. 1400 local Troops. The headquarters is located in Neuss.
Boys and girls of the local Troops are arranged into four age Sections:
7 to 10 years Wölflinge Cub scouts
10 to 13 years Jungpfadfinder Young Scouts
13 to 16 years Pfadfinder Scouts
16 to 21 years Rover Rover Scouts
German scouts discern one more age group than the traditional scout structure.
During these four age groups, each member has the chance to develop him or herself personally and with the group. Through the interplay with the dynamic of the group, his/her plans, his/her experience and the reflection of all activities, each member will develop his/her own personality more and more. Kids and young people are encouraged to? paddle there own canoe? (Baden Powell-Rovering to Success) by way of discoveries, adventures, hiking and trying.
If you would like to know more about the work or our organisation, visit our website http://www.dpsg.de/ (in German) or contact us directly.