Bund Resolute School Reformer

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The Bund decided school reformers (BESch) was an association for the renewal of the education system in the Weimar Republic .


After the November Revolution, in December 1918 the Prussian Ministry for "Science, Culture and Public Education" under Ministers Konrad Haenisch ( SPD ) and Adolph Hoffmann ( USPD ) envisaged revolutionary changes in cultural and educational policy, which were also included in the reform committee of the Berlin Philologists ' Association Discussions about the design of the future education system led. As early as the Christmas holidays of 1918/19 it became clear that the school administration, loyal to the emperor, and the conservative, sometimes reactionary majority in the philologists' association did not want to allow any changes in education and schooling. The reformers initially encountered resistance from teachers from higher education institutions with the idea of ​​opening up universities to educators, elementary school teachers and other instructors and of setting up academic courses for this purpose. That is why the reformers joined together in the Philologists' Association in 1919 to form the “Bund Neue Hochschule”, for which the journal The New Education was published.


After the working conditions for this small group within the philologists' association had become unbearable by the summer of 1919 due to incompatible reform ideas, initially 24 educators split off - among them Franz Hilker , Fritz Karsen , Siegfried Kawerau , Otto Koch , Theodor Lessing , Paul Oestreich , Elisabeth Rotten , Anna Siemsen and Arno Wagner . At a meeting on September 18, 1919 in the conference room of the Werner-Siemens-Realgymnasium in Berlin-Schöneberg , they founded the “Bund decided school reformers”. The name was linked to the Bund für Schulreform (Bund für Schulreform) , which united Hamburgers and Bremen reform pedagogues from 1908 to 1915 under Ernst Meumann , Peter Petersen and Gertrud Bäumer around the magazine Der Säemann and had organized several school congresses. The word "Resolute" refers to the fact that the school reformer of the " Weimar school compromise " the cultural and educational policy ground for an ultimately decisive wanted "Reich Law" order that as a prerequisite for reforming the inherited from the imperial era school system in the Weimar Constitution indeed provided , but the content was still completely open. The “Bund decided school reformers”, which was initially an association of academically educated reform pedagogues, saw itself as a cultural and political association, but in no way as a party or class political association. In 1920 the union opened up to all teachers and educators, and from 1921 lay people interested in education could also join it. The founding board of the federal government consisted of Hildegard Wegscheider and the former members of the philological association Fritz Karsen, Siegfried Kawerau, Paul Oestreich and Arno Wagner.


“Compared to the 'internal' school reform that had been predominantly pursued up to then, the federal program showed that it was now primarily about the 'external' school reform, a comprehensive 'renewal of the educational system', as stated in § 1 of the statutes of the federal government. ”“ In the statutes, the federal government committed itself to the new democracy: 'A general prerequisite for membership is a firm commitment to the idea of ​​the free people's state and the spirit of a social community that embraces humanity.' Values ​​and slogans such as 'sense of community', 'cooperative cooperation', 'human dignity', <...> 'respect for the peoples' [or] 'fraternal thinking and acting in the intercourse of people and peoples' denote the ideological direction and the aims of the school reform sought. The federal government took a stand with its cultural and socially critical ideas for reforming the education system

  • "Against a civilization laboriously supported with old thoughts and feelings,
  • against the spirit of militarism, against hatred of peoples, races and denominations,
  • against all injustices of social privileges and arbitrary claims to power. "

The school model, regarded by the federal government as fundamental, was that of a socially oriented, democratic and secular unified school , which should "elastically" promote the individual talents and interests of the students and, in the sense of a work school, combine theory and practice in the classroom.

Activity and effect

The “Bund decided school reformers”, which under the leadership of Paul Oestereich expanded into a “Volksbund” from 1921, did not meet with the approval of all reform-minded people with its goals for the renewal of the education system. The main contradiction was the introduction of the secular unified school demanded by the federal government and its further development into a production school . In retrospect, these reform ideas seem utopian today , but in 1919 they were well within political reach. The time window for fundamental reforms of the education system in the Weimar Republic began to close in the “ Weimar School Compromise ”, when the school became the plaything of party political and church interests.

This development continued in the Reich Primary School Act of April 28, 1920 and at the Reich School Conference in June 1920. The “Bund decided school reformers” took part in the Reich School Conference , but was unable to assert itself on key points. Heinrich Schulz , SPD politician and initiator of the conference, had to be accused of abandoning the fundamental demand for a social, democratic and secular unified school and production school with consideration for the churches and the Center Party in order to keep this coalition option open for the SPD . The supporters of the "Philologists' Association" succeeded in rejecting the unified school efforts of the determined school reformers in favor of a structured school system. Paul Oestereich summarized the result of the Reichsschulkonferenz in a modification of a quote from Goethe's Faust II: “A great effort, disgraceful! is wasted. "

The work of the federal government consisted in dealing with fundamental topics in working groups, conferences, appeals, submissions to authorities and in educational publications for scientific, cultural and educational policy discussions and public relations work. The annual meetings of the federal government were high points and particularly suitable to draw the eyes of the specialist audience and the interested public to problems and development opportunities in the education system. For this purpose, lectures were held on the following topics and published in reports and resolutions of the conferences:

  • 1919: "Decided school reform"
  • 1920: "Creative Education" ; "To the production school"
  • 1921: “Women's Education and Economic Reform”; "Pacifism and Education"
  • 1922: "Human education and lifestyle" ; "Art and School" ; "Youth hardship"
  • 1923: "The Production School"
  • 1924: "International History Conference"
  • 1925: "The new teacher"
  • 1926: "Criminal Justice", "The Youth Helper"
  • 1927: "Big City and Education"
  • 1928: "Profession, Person, Education"
  • 1929: "Eugenics and Education"
  • 1930: "Women's Education and Culture"
  • 1931: "Youth, Education and Politics"
  • 1932: "The small child, its need and its upbringing"

With around 5000 members in many local groups throughout the Reich, the Federation gained recognition in specialist circles by spreading humanistic ideals, which aimed at a more conscious, democratic and non-discriminatory upbringing and education of young people throughout society. Within the federal government, however, there were violent disputes because of the increasingly utopian reform ideas on the one hand, and the ambivalent assessment and support of the few practical reform attempts on the other. With the exception of the newly formed state of Thuringia , where under Minister Max Greil (USPD) new administrative structures favored approaches to decisive school reform , in the Free State of Prussia and in most other German states almost the pre-revolutionary conditions in the school system had returned by the mid-1920s. Paul Oestreich therefore called for a concentration on the formation of public opinion through agitation and became more and more dominant. The other leading figures from the early days reacted increasingly fatalistically to the political situation and gradually left the federal government. Nevertheless, until the NSDAP came to power and was forced to dissolve in 1933 , the federal government took a critical and committed position on all school and educational policy measures of the Reich government or the Prussian state government and compared their plans with its own proposals for school reform.

Old vs. new school

Education reformers characterized the "old school" has always been considered the corporately structured " box school ," the rigid same for all students "forced and crammer" the mechanizing "learning and teaching institution". The criticism was directed against authoritarian discipline, outdated teaching content and procedures, against the antisocial school organization, against authoritarian and religious indoctrination , against the passivity and subservience of teachers, against arrogance and the isolation of the various categories of teachers and educators from one another.

In contrast, in the “new school”, for which the determined school reformers advocated, pupils, parents and teachers should be an “educational community”. Under a “collegial school administration” with “student self-administration”, the lessons should follow “co-educational” and “simultaneous” concepts. Among the supporters of the "new school" were beside Paul Oestreich (The elastic unit school) , among others, Gustav Wyneken (Free school community) , Hermann Lietz (German Landerziehungsheime) , Tami Oelfken (Tami-Oelfken Community School) , Paul Geheeb ( Odenwaldschule ) , Berthold Otto (Die Hauslehrerschule) , Georg Kerschensteiner (Die Arbeitsschule) , Peter Petersen ( Die Jena-Plan-Schule ) , William Lottig (Die Hamburger Lebensgemeinschaftsschulen) , Wilhelm Paulsen (Die Berliner Lebensgemeinschaftsschulen) , Olga Essig ( The vocational school as a member of the production school ) , Anna Siemsen (development of a uniform, horizontal school system, in which the entire vocational and technical education is included) and Fritz Karsen ( Karl-Marx-Schule ) . The common link for the various reform ideas in the “Bund decided school reformers” was the unified school movement, that is, the “expansion of the school into an all-encompassing, autonomous community education and popular education community from kindergarten to university.” The unified school system should not be rigid and closed but be structured and adaptable according to the talents and interests of the students. How this internal and external differentiation of the unit school should be designed, opinions differed. Due to the political conditions in the Weimar Republic and the legal restrictions imposed by the school administrations in the federal states, the “resolute school reformers” were unable to develop a single school model that could be described as exemplary. "The community schools, especially Fritz Karsen's advanced school, came closest to the ideas."


  • The New Education - magazine for decisive school reform and free school policy. (from 1919 until closing in July 1933)
  • Decided School Reform - Treatises on the Renewal of German Education (Issue 1/1922 - Issue 51/1926)
  • The School of Life - Series of writings from the Federation of Decided School Reformers (Ed. Franz Hilker)
  • Decisive school reform I, II, III, IV etc. - anthologies of specialist lectures that were given at federal conferences and events.


After the Second World War, the structured school system of the Weimar Republic was continued in West Germany until the 1970s. In the Adenauer era, the ideas of the former “Bund decided school reformers” were viewed as being heavily influenced by the SPD and KPD / SED and ideologically frowned upon. School reformers such as Fritz Helling , Paul Oestreich or Otto Koch tried a. a. To initiate an all-German school reform in accordance with the statutes of the “Federation of Decided School Reformers” in vain in the Schwelmer Kreis . In the course of the discussions about the introduction and design of comprehensive schools in the SPD-governed federal states during the 1960s and 1970s, some of the reform ideas from 1919 to 1933 regained relevance. The internal differentiation in the comprehensive school concept represents an approximation of the idea of ​​the "elastic unified school". The more recent discussions in educational science, e.g. B. via the three-tier school system, the all-day school as a life school, the advantages of early childhood education in kindergarten or the “future of the production school idea” bring the “suppressed tradition of democratic pedagogy and educational policy” back into focus.

The public education system of the former GDR had some notable features of the “elastic standard school” and the “production school” at the polytechnical high schools and the extended high schools . Under Education Minister Paul Wandel , in cooperation with school reformers such as Erwin Marquardt , Paul Oestreich or Heinrich Deiters , reform pedagogical approaches aimed at an all-German school reform existed until the mid-1950s. Also to be emphasized are the comparatively demanding natural science lessons and the polytechnical lessons in socialist production. However, the school system in the GDR was overloaded with ideological learning content and in many areas undemocratic. The pioneers of the SED could not see the “League of Decided School Reformers” in the alleged tradition of “Marxist” educational science and suppressed memories of it under the charge of reformism . The honors and awards that Paul Oestreich received after the age of 70 ad personam in the GDR, although his ideas of the "elastic unified school" as too individualistic and those of the "life school" as socially romantic and too idealistic had been rejected propagandistic background to refer to the "actually still old school" in the West German states during the Adenauer era .


  • Siegfried Kawerau: The Association of Resolute School Reformers. Becoming and being . (= Decided School Reform Issue 1), Ernst Oldenburg Verlag, Berlin 1922
  • Ingrid Neuner: The Bund resolute school reformers 1919-1933. Program and implementation . Verlag Klinkhardt, Bad Heilbrunn 1980, ISBN 3-7815-0464-6 (additional dissertation University of Würzburg 1980).
  • Winfried Böhm : Paul Oestreich's cultural policy and pedagogy. Klinkhardt Verlag, Bad Heilbrunn 1973, ISBN 3-7815-0209-0 .
  • Bernhard Reintges: Paul Oestreich and the Bund decided school reformers . Schindele Publishing House, Rheinstetten 1977.
  • Armin Bernhard / Jürgen Eierdanz (eds.): The Bund decided school reformers. A suppressed tradition of democratic pedagogy and educational policy. (Series: Social-historical studies on reform pedagogy and adult education, Volume 10) dipa-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1991, ISBN 3-7638-0810-8

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The Berlin Philologists 'Association was a member of the "Association of Academically Educated Teachers in Germany" , founded in 1903 and renamed the German Philologists' Association in 1920
  2. Wolfgang Scheibe: The educational reform movement: An introductory presentation. Beltz Taschenbuch, Weinheim / Basel, 1999, p. 318
  3. ibid, p. 319
  4. ↑ In 1924, the Bund decided school reformers was one of the founding members of the German peace cartel led by Ludwig Quidde .
  5. Wolfgang Scheibe: The educational reform movement: An introductory presentation. Beltz Taschenbuch, Weinheim / Basel, 1999, p. 319
  6. Paul Oestreich: A great effort, disgraceful! is wasted: All about the Reichsschulkonferenz (collected essays). (= Decided School Reform Issue 23), Ernst Oldenburg Verlag, Leipzig 1924
  7. ^ "Decided school reform:" Lectures given at the conference of decisive school reformers on October 4th and 5th, 1919 in the "Herrenhaus" in Berlin. (= Decided School Reform I; Ed. Paul Oestreich) Verlag Buchhandlung Reiß, Berlin 1920
  8. ^ "Creative education:" Lectures held at the free Reichsschulkonferenz des Bundes Resolute School Reformer in the "Herrenhaus" in Berlin from March 31 to April 2, 1920. (= Decided School Reform II; Ed. Paul Oestreich / Bund Decided School Reformer) Verlag Gesellschaft und Education, Berlin 1920
  9. "On the Production School:" Outlines and guiding principles based on lectures at the third conference of the Association of Resolute School Reformers from October 2 to 6, 1920 in the parish festival hall in Berlin-Lankwitz. (= Decided School Reform III; Ed. Paul Oestreich / Bund Decided School Reformer) Verlag für Sozialwissenschaft, Berlin 1922
  10. ^ "Human education - goals and ways of resolute school reform." Lectures by resolute school reformers held at the Central Institute for Education and Teaching in Berlin from January to March 1922. (= Decided School Reform VIII; Ed. Paul Oestreich / Bund Decided School Reformer) Verlag CA Schwetschke & Sohn , Berlin 1922
  11. "Art and School:" Ways and goals of creative design, laid down at the art conference of the Federal Association of Resolute School Reformers in Berlin-Lankwitz. (= Decided School Reform IV; Ed. Franz Hilker / Bund Decided School Reformer) Verlag CA Schwetschke & Sohn, Berlin 1922
  12. "Jugendnot." Lectures held at the ninth public conference of the Federal Association of Resolute School Reformers in the New Town Hall of Berlin / Schöneberg on October 1st, 2nd and 3rd, 1923. (= Decided School Reform IX; Ed. Gerhard Danziger / Siegfried Kawerau / Bund Resolute school reformer) Ernst Oldenburg Verlag, Leipzig 1923
  13. "The production school as an emergency house and a new building: elastic unity, life, work and folk culture school". Lectures given by Robert Adolph , Rudolf Bode , Gerhard Danziger [u. a.] at the public conference of the Bund decided school reformers in the Berlin University from September 30 to October 4, 1923. (Ed. Paul Oestreich / Bund decided school reformers) Verlag CA Schwetschke & Sohn, Berlin 1924
  14. "The Eternal Revolution." Results of the international history conference of the Federation of Decided School Reformers from 2-4. October 1924. (Ed. Siegfried Kawerau), Verlag CA Schwetschke & Sohn, Berlin 1925
  15. ^ "The new teacher: The necessary teacher training." Contributions to the decisive school reform. (Ed. Paul Oestreich / Otto Tacke), Verlag AW Zickfeldt, Osterwieck a. Harz 1926
  16. "Education for Love." Report of the Federal Association of Resolute School Reformers from the 1929 annual conference (Ed. Paul Oestreich / Wilhelm Hoepner), Man Verlag, Berlin 1930
  17. "Women's Education and Culture". Contributions to the problem of the “decided school reform” as a new building for society. Conference report of the Federal Resolute School Reformers on the congress from October 1st to 4th, 1930. (Eds. Irmgard Bär / Wilhelm Hoepner / Paul Oestreich) Verlagbuchhandlung Karl Zwing, Jena 1930
  18. "Youth, Education and Politics: The Problem and the Commandment." Contributions to the 1931 annual congress of the Federation of Decided School Reformers. (Eds. Paul Oestreich / Wilhelm Hoepner), Karl Zwing publishing house, Jena 1931
  19. "The small child, its need and its upbringing." Lectures from the Federal Congress for the Education of Small Children Decided School Reformer from 1-5. October 1932 in the New Town Hall in Berlin-Schöneberg. (Ed. Paul Oestreich), Verlagbuchhandlung Karl Zwing, Jena 1932
  20. Wolfgang Scheibe: The educational reform movement: An introductory presentation. Beltz Taschenbuch, Weinheim / Basel, 1999, p. 320
  21. ibid
  22. ^ Stefan Appel / Georg Rutz: All-day school manual: practice, concepts, handouts . 6th revised edition, Wochenschau-Verlag, 2009 ISBN 978-3-89974-470-5 .
  23. ^ Stephan Stomporowski / Martin Kipp: Between Utopia and Reality - Aspects of the History of Ideas in Production School Development. (Festschrift for Willi Brand ), University of Hamburg, 2003 p. 12ff
  24. Armin Bernard / Jürgen Eierdanz (eds.): The Bund decided school reformers. A suppressed tradition of democratic pedagogy and educational policy. (Series: Socio-historical studies on reform pedagogy and adult education, Volume 10) dipa-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1991
  25. In West Germany in the 1960s there were still “permission to corporal punishment”, “school fees in higher schools”, “denominational separation of pupils”, “discrimination against working class children and girls in access to higher education”, “gender-specific educational goals for boys (Wissenschaft and technology) and girls (housekeeping and social services) ”.