Workers welfare

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Workers' Welfare Association
legal form non-profit registered association
founding December 13, 1919
Founder Marie Juchacz
Seat Berlin , Germany
main emphasis Social policy , social law
Chair Wilhelm Schmidt (Chairman of the Federal Presidium)
Wolfgang Stadler (Chairman of the Board of Directors)
sales 109,323,495 euros (2018)
Employees 230,873 (05/2019)
Volunteers 73,753 (05/2019)
Members 317,767 (05/2019)

The Arbeiterwohlfahrt (AWO) is a decentrally organized German welfare association that builds on personal memberships in its local associations . It is one of the six leading associations for voluntary welfare and with around 230,000 full-time employees one of the largest employers in Germany. Their main task is to support socially disadvantaged people. Nowadays she mainly looks after people with disabilities and senior citizens , but also runs, for example, kindergartens , open all-day schools , psychiatric and forensic clinics, facilities for holiday leisure and advice centers for migrants , asylum seekers and people in need.

It is committed to the values ​​of free and democratic socialism .


Marie Juchacz (around 1919)
Historical sign on the AWO building in Lüdenscheid
Modern AWO logo until May 2008

On December 13, 1919, Marie Juchacz (1879–1956), who was one of the first women in the National Assembly , founded the AWO as the main committee for workers' welfare in the SPD . Next to her were u. a. Elfriede Ryneck (2nd chair), Lore Agnes , Walter Friedländer , Louise Schroeder , and Hedwig Wachenheim founding members. Reich President Friedrich Ebert described it with the motto "Workers' welfare is the self-help of the workers". First of all, she tried to alleviate the plight of those damaged by the First World War by setting up sewing rooms, lunch tables , workshops for self-help and advice centers. Later it developed into an aid organization for all socially needy people.

After the seizure of power of Adolf Hitler the AWO was unsuccessful for the same switch attempts and then dissolved and banned. Some members continued to work illegally, according to Johanna Kirchner , who helped smuggle people who were threatened from the labor movement into exile .

After the end of the Second World War , the AWO was re-established in Hanover in 1946 as a politically and religiously independent aid organization . It was not permitted in the Soviet occupation zone and the later GDR . East Berlin was an exception, where the AWO worked as a state association for the entire city until the Wall was built in August 1961. During the GDR era, the Arbeiterwohlfahrt was able to be re-established in Sonneberg on February 18, 1990, 57 years after its ban, on the initiative of the Bavarian state parliament member Walter Knauer and the social manager Edmund Fröhlich . Since reunification , the Arbeiterwohlfahrt has been active throughout Germany. The seat of the federal association is in Berlin . She is the bearer of the DZI donation seal.

The Arbeiterwohlfahrt sees itself committed to the basic values ​​of solidarity , tolerance , freedom , equality and justice and works in the voluntary and full-time area according to the guiding principles and the model of the AWO, which is also binding for employees at least for some new hires.

Structure and organization

The AWO is divided into 30 district and state associations, 403 district associations and 3435 local associations. The AWO is supported nationwide by 317,767 members, 73,753 voluntary employees (helpers) and 230,873 full-time employees. The AWO maintains over 18,000 facilities and services in all federal states, including:

  • Homes including shared apartments
  • Day care centers, for example for children and young people and for the elderly, including around 2,300 day care centers across Germany
  • Information and advice centers, e.g. B. for the elderly, the unemployed, families, pregnant women, the disabled, young people, foreigners
  • overall outpatient services, including social care services
  • Advice centers of all kinds, including offices
  • Day care centers and workshops for the unemployed, workshops of all kinds

The AWO supports over 2,100 homes, including:

  • Retirement homes, retirement homes, retirement homes, day care homes
  • Homes / shared apartments for the disabled / mentally ill
  • Dormitories for resettlers and foreigners
  • Homes / shared apartments for children and young people
  • Training, advanced and advanced training facilities
  • Health aid institutions such as B. Recreational and sanatoriums
  • Women's shelters

As part of the AWO, more than 3,500 self-help, helper and other groups of civic engagement are active, including:

  • in old people's clubs, senior groups
  • in youth welfare / youth work
  • for the chronically ill and disabled
  • health self-help and contact groups
  • Volunteer agencies / offices
  • Helper groups for people in special emergency situations (e.g. unemployed self-help, women self-help)
  • in family help

More than 800 independent institutions, initiatives and organizations have joined the AWO as corporate members at all levels.

Partner of the AWO

The Federal Youth Agency of the AWO is the independent children and youth association of the AWO. It was founded in 1978. The Federal Youth Organization of the AWO, as the umbrella of the state and district youth organizations, works closely with its branches and organizes work conferences, seminars and meetings for full-time and voluntary workers. The Bundesjugendwerk interferes in political discussions as a representation of interests for children and young people. The AWO is a founding member of Aktion Mensch .

Corporate Members

Associations with social tasks can join the workers' welfare organization as a corporate member. In this way, the AWO can broaden the basis of its own work, take on new tasks and win allies to implement its social and technical policy goals.


The 2008 federal conference decided to introduce a presidium model and thus to restructure the federal association. Since November 2008, the AWO has had a full-time executive board and an honorary executive committee.

  • 2008–2009: Rainer Brückers
  • since 2010: Wolfgang Stadler Chairman of the Board of Management

Honorary President (since 2008)

AWO awards

The Marie Juchacz plaque is an honorary award given by the Arbeiterwohlfahrt. It is the association's highest award. It is named after the founder of the Arbeiterwohlfahrt, Marie Juchacz. The award is given to members of the Arbeiterwohlfahrt who have shown particular commitment to the association and who are politically committed to the concerns of the AWO.

The Lotte Lemke Prize is awarded to institutions, organizations, clubs, associations, their representatives, but also individuals who act in accordance with the individual guiding principles and statements of the AWO's mission statement, and who sustain social projects, initiatives, national and international welfare care Have developed, designed, supported and promoted tasks of the AWO. The award is named after Lotte Lemke, who has been chairwoman of the AWO for many years .

With the award of the Heinrich Albertz Peace Prize , the Federal Association of AWO has been honoring a public figure for their commitment to social peace since 1999.


Salaries and allowances

Open criticism of the AWO's salary and remuneration structure has revealed since 2019 that there is no independent control or legally compliant review of the budget use of many regional associations.

Job opportunities with additional expense allowance

In 2004, the then Federal AWO Chairman Manfred Ragati welcomed the introduction of work opportunities with additional expense allowance (AGH-MAE) and announced that the German welfare associations would set up at least 30,000 AGH-MAE for the long-term unemployed . Many of them felt that the introduction of these work opportunities was degrading, lacking solidarity and contradicting the principle of equality and protested. That is why they called them “1 euro jobs”. The social group The Superfluous symbolically occupied the AWO Landeszentrale Berlin. The welfare association did not accept this and filed a criminal complaint for trespassing .

Operation of a day care center in Mallorca

In October 2018, investigations by the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania State Audit Office revealed that the AWO district association Schwerin-Parchim maintains a daycare center on Mallorca . The origin of the funding and the income generated from it remained unclear. In the annual reports of the Schwerin AWO there was also no note on the facility. In response to a request from the NDR , the district executive refused to provide any information in this regard, citing that it did not want to disclose “internal company information”. The Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Ministry of Social Affairs announced that state funds had not flowed. Stefanie Drese (SPD), Minister for Social Affairs, Integration and Equal Opportunities, made it clear that a daycare center on Mallorca “is not in the national interest” and “from the perspective of the ministry there is no socio-political necessity for the operation of an AWO facility on Mallorca”. The AWO Federal Association also called for a quick clarification. "We cannot accept the reference by AWO Schwerin to the promotion of projects in Germany and abroad [...] mentioned in the association statute in connection with the holiday island of Mallorca, and on the contrary it appears extremely questionable," said Federal Chairman Wolfgang Stadler. The Court of Auditors had already initiated more detailed reviews of the social associations.

Temporary work

The federal association declared in a press release on November 5, 2010: “We reject systematic temporary work!”. The AWO Federal Chairman Wolfgang Stadler explains: “In general, the instrument of temporary agency work must be viewed critically and used sensitively. It is intended as a tool to create employment opportunities and to cover order peaks in companies. This also means that a very cautious and responsible commitment was and is intended. As a federal association, we therefore reject the systematic use of temporary agency work. If, in exceptional cases, temporary agency work should be used, it must be made clear that temporary workers are to be equated with permanent employees according to the principle of equal pay for equal work. "

The AWO in western Westphalia employs around 15,000 people (as of 2010) under the framework conditions of the AWO NRW collective agreement concluded with Ver.di. The AWO in the district of Western Westphalia offers employees the possibility of concluding new contracts with the Arbeiterwohlfahrt-Servicegesellschaft (AW PSG) for a limited period after the contract period has expired. This in-house temporary employment agency then lends the staff to the parent company AWO. This makes it possible to offer temporary workers collective agreements with lower pay than permanent employees. In the district of Western Westphalia, the AWO has outsourced around 300 employees to temporary work.

The advantages for the AWO are, on the one hand, the lower wages and savings in VAT. According to their own statement, the advantage for the AWO does not consist in lower wage costs - the hour of temporary work is usually even more expensive than an hour in accordance with the AWO NRW collective agreement - but in greater flexibility in terms of work, for example in the case of sickness or holiday replacement and fluctuations in occupancy . On the other hand, the union ver.di gives u. a. It should be borne in mind that the collective agreement is disadvantageous compared to the public service, does not apply to many employees anyway and, above all, low-skilled workers are affected by the spin-off in temporary employment.

Suspected infidelity in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Since 2016 there have been reports in the press about irregularities in the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania regional association . The public prosecutor's offices in Schwerin and Neubrandenburg are investigating three former managing directors of the association on suspicion of infidelity and, in some cases, serious infidelity. The state parliament of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania set up a parliamentary committee of inquiry into the allegations, which has been active since February 27, 2017. The former state chairman of the AWO, Ulf Skodda, is accused of telling the untruth in the investigative committee of the state parliament. Here, too, an investigation by the public prosecutor is ongoing.

The former managing director of the AWO near Müritz , Peter Olijnyk, was sentenced to repay the AWO excessive salaries of 390,000 euros. In February 2020, the Schwerin public prosecutor's office also brought charges on suspicion of breach of trust in a particularly serious case, a sum of around 1.3 million euros.

Suspected fraud and breach of trust in Frankfurt am Main and Wiesbaden

At the end of 2018, the AWO district association Frankfurt am Main gave up its two accommodations for asylum seekers operated on behalf of the city of Frankfurt. The city's social affairs department had become aware of financial irregularities, and internal auditors and official lawyers recommended that the cooperation be terminated as soon as possible.

In total, AWO-Frankfurt received more than 15 million euros from the city administration of Frankfurt from mid-2016 to the end of 2018 for the operation of an accommodation, of which 6.5 million alone for a security service that was founded and managed by employees of the AWO Frankfurt.

According to a report published in the Frankfurter Neue Presse in July 2019 , AWO Frankfurt received funding for a sports and physiotherapy program in their asylum seekers' homes, which is said to have taken place to a much lesser extent than the city claims.

After an anonymous criminal complaint, the Frankfurt public prosecutor's office initiated investigations against those responsible for the AWO district association on suspicion of fraud and breach of trust.

In November 2019, the hessenschau reported on abnormalities in the employment relationship of a daycare center manager. She received an unusually high salary (based on years of service) and also had a company car that other employees in comparable positions are not entitled to. She also took this car with her on parental leave. The person concerned is the wife of the mayor of Frankfurt, Peter Feldmann , who himself previously worked for the AWO in Frankfurt. In this position, according to a report by the Hessischer Rundfunk, he is said to have mainly looked after his election campaign. The position created with him was not filled again after his election. The mayor criticized the "exclusive" reporting of the Hessenschau and announced that he would speak to all media; Instead, he gave the Bild newspaper an exclusive interview in which he stated that he had not been informed about his wife's income. He did not comment on his own previous employment with the AWO.

In December 2019, u. a. Spiegel-Online , several AWO officials in Frankfurt and Wiesbaden received nearly six-figure annual salaries and in a few cases several times that. Other employees of the AWO Frankfurt and Wiesbaden were according to the report, which cites internal documents with Sport - official car , anxious, consulting services, vouchers and performance fees in four to five-figure significantly high. Until shortly before the publication, according to the report, a married couple had been installed as management in Frankfurt and Wiesbaden, among others, who enriched themselves and in one case, as chairman of the supervisory board, controlled or secured the spouse in Wiesbaden. Meanwhile, an AWO Vice-Managing Director in Frankfurt was also working as an auditor in Wiesbaden . The AWO district association Hessen-Süd, which is responsible for the supervision of the Frankfurt AWO, is in turn run by a person who is also the honorary CEO of the Frankfurt AWO and who received salaries for legal advice from the AWO in Wiesbaden for several years. There, the Wiesbaden public prosecutor took over investigations into suspected breach of trust and fraud. Uli Nissen , member of the Bundestag, acted as a voluntary auditor for the AWO in Frankfurt , who also resigned from her position at the AWO in the course of the reporting, as she said she had no real overview of the financial processes at the social association. In the same month the executive committee of the Frankfurt district association with the AWO chairman and his three deputies resigned. The board members designated as of January 1, 2020 have all worked closely with the resigned or retired former chairman of the board of directors and were themselves equipped with high-quality company cars. According to research by the Frankfurter Rundschau, one of the new deputies is even considered to be one of the key figures in the scandal that has yet to be resolved.

The press spokesman for the AWO Frankfurt am Main, an SPD member who, according to his Facebook profile, is still registered as a student, aroused criticism with his annual salary of around 100,000 euros - about twice as much as is usual for a comparable position. In addition, the AWO provided him with a company car. The career of an SPD city councilor who was made a department head without a formal degree and without corresponding professional experience and who also receives an annual salary of around 100,000 euros there to this day (as of December 2019) was also viewed critically.

Report on excessive salaries in Thuringia

According to an internal report, the four-person management of AWO-Thuringia received around 860,000 euros a year in salary (not including costs for company cars and apartments). For example, the former managing director of AWO-Thuringia and current managing director of several subsidiaries of AWO-Thuringia received a gross salary for several years that was based on his previous costs for a 128 square meter apartment in downtown Erfurt. In addition to the chairman of the AWO Thuringia, this was decided by an AWO functionary in Erfurt, who, in her previous position as a representative of a Thuringian furniture store, received 80% of all equipment contracts from AWO subsidiaries. The owner of the furniture store is vice-chairman of the Gotha district association and was the state association's auditor until 2017. According to an internal report, the former managing director of AWO-Thuringia was guaranteed an annual salary increase of three percent as well as an extremely highly remunerated partial retirement with a release phase from 2021. A return of his € 80,000 company car after the end of employment has not been agreed. According to an internal guideline of the association management in Berlin, income should actually be based on that of the public service throughout Germany .


  • Arbeiterwohlfahrt Landesverband Hamburg eV, Karen Hagemann (Ed.): We want to go to the Köhlbrand! History and present of the Hamburg workers welfare 1919–1985. VSA-Verlag, Hamburg 1985, ISBN 3-87975-324-5 .

Web links

Commons : Arbeiterwohlfahrt  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Annual report 2018
  2. ^ Association statute of the workers' welfare. (PDF; 109 KB) In: Retrieved August 27, 2019 .
  3. ^ Johanna Roth: Women's suffrage in Germany: The great grandmother of democracy . In: The daily newspaper: taz . November 11, 2018, ISSN  0931-9085 ( [accessed November 30, 2018]).
  4. ^ Foundation of the AWO
  5. Edmund Fröhlich, Theresia Danco (Ed.): After 57 years: The AWO is re-established in Thuringia. In: Quo vadis Free Welfare Care, Bank for Social Economy ; Cologne, 1990
  6. The AWO in facts and figures
  7. Note in: Vorwärts 7/8 2013, p. 13
  8. To this section Homepage AWO Bundesverband ( Memento from May 3, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  9. a b Partners of the Federal Association ( Memento from May 3, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) on the AWO homepage
  10.  ( page no longer available , search in web archives )@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /
  11.  ( page no longer available , search in web archives )@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /
  12. AWO website ( Memento from May 3, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  13. Website for the Federal Conference 2012 ( Memento from May 3, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  14. By Rol, Tichy, Maximilian Tichy Sat, January 18, 2020: Bold and clumsy self-service: the SPD and their AWO. January 18, 2020, accessed on February 7, 2020 (German).
  15. Stefan Ludmann: Ministry criticizes AWO-Kita on Mallorca. On, October 2, 2018.
  16. AWO Federal Association calls for a quick investigation into the AWO Schwerin daycare center. Press release. On, October 4, 2018.
  17. Michael Seidel: Court of Auditors will check social associations in the future. On, December 8, 2017.
  18. Union website Regelungswerk.ppt (download page , only available as Powerpoint presentation, 46 kB)
  19. ^ Andreas Becker: Awo scandals topic in the MV Landtag. In: Nordkurier, November 13, 2019.
  20. ^ Parliamentary committee of inquiry into charities established. State Parliament MV.
  21. a b c d e Matthias Bartsch, DER SPIEGEL: Self-service again at the Arbeiterwohlfahrt: A company car with 330 hp - DER SPIEGEL - Politics. Accessed February 1, 2020 .
  22. Infidelity: Charges against ex-AWO managers brought in NDR 1 Radio MV on February 6, 2020
  23. Awo affair about refugee homes: Social affairs officer knew about it. July 26, 2019, accessed July 27, 2019 .
  24. a b c d e SPIEGEL ONLINE: How the Arbeiterwohlfahrt in Frankfurt became a self-service store (paid items). Retrieved December 14, 2019 .
  25. Suspected fraud: Frankfurt workers welfare in the sights of the investigators . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . ISSN  0174-4909 ( [accessed November 20, 2019]).
  26. Serious allegations against Awo in Frankfurt - managing director before resignation. June 16, 2019, accessed July 27, 2019 .
  27. hessenschau de, Frankfurt Germany: Public prosecutor's office is investigating the Frankfurt AWO. November 14, 2019, accessed November 17, 2019 .
  28. a b hessenschau de, Frankfurt Germany: wife of the Frankfurt mayor receives a higher salary than usual. November 19, 2019, accessed November 20, 2019 .
  29. hessenschau de, Frankfurt Germany: wife of the Frankfurt mayor receives a higher salary than usual. November 19, 2019, accessed November 20, 2019 .
  30. deutschlandfunk, Cologne Germany: AWO scandal in Frankfurt am Main allegations against Lord Mayor Feldmann and his wife. November 28, 2019, accessed November 29, 2019 .
  31. Excessiveness at AWO: Luxury sledges, felt and dream salaries , n-tv from December 18, 2019, accessed on December 18, 2019
  32. Matthias Bartsch: Awo examiner on the Frankfurt rip-off affair: "Totally out of hand" . In: Spiegel Online . December 17, 2019 ( [accessed December 18, 2019]).
  33. Frankfurt rip-off affair: Presidium of the Awo district association resigns . In: Spiegel Online . December 20, 2019 ( [accessed December 20, 2019]).
  34. " Not because of purification: New board of the AWO threatens to become a farce" from January 1, 2020
  35. How young SPD politicians receive top salaries at the AWO Hessenschau from December 12, 2019
  36. ^ A b c Matthias Bartsch, DER SPIEGEL: Internal report burdens Awo officials: The Hack System - DER SPIEGEL - Panorama. Retrieved May 23, 2020 .