Voluntary service

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A voluntary service or labor service , in Switzerland also volunteering called, is an institutionalized form of voluntary work, which is limited in time from the start and held by prior agreement on the extent and type of activity. In doing so, non-profit work tasks are undertaken for a usually low or no salary . In contrast to many other options for volunteering, voluntary service requires a more formal definition of goals and means. Therefore, volunteering is usually implemented at a local institution as a host organization in collaboration with a sending or coordinating organization. Voluntary services are available on a national or international level, for professionals or laypeople, in groups or individually and of varying duration.

Voluntary services were and are often developed for young people with an educational purpose. They are also legitimized as community services for a social movement , the people, the nation or international understanding ( international understanding , international friendship ).

If volunteer services of the present are referred to as "labor service", this choice of term is to be assessed as unfortunate insofar as the term "labor service" is used by many to think of the obligatory " Reich labor service" , which helped to support the National Socialist system of rule. As early as the 1920s and 1930s, volunteer services had little in common with RAD-type concepts apart from the name “Labor Service”. In contrast to voluntary service, there is civil service ordered by the state .


International voluntary services as peace projects from 1920

Pierre Cérésole (left) with two international volunteers in Esnes-en-Argonne (1920)

The first international voluntary service was organized in 1920 by the Swiss pacifist Pierre Cérésole as a charitable peace project after the First World War . He gathered young people from different European countries in Esnes-en-Argonne in France to support the reconstruction of the village destroyed by the war and at the same time to work and live together to take the breeding ground for future conflicts in Europe, i.e. for international understanding to contribute.

The organizations Service Civil International (SCI), Internationaler Reconciliation Union and Youth Action for Peace were founded with this background, often by Quakers or Mennonites . By allowing both genders to serve in their service, as well as focusing on civil society principles rather than military discipline, they were unusual. The organized projects for groups of international volunteers were called work camps .

In Germany , Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy was involved in the conception of such projects. One of them was the Löwenberger Arbeitsgemeinschaft founded in 1927 .

Labor services as a military substitute from 1920

As a result of the fact that they were banned from military service in the Neuilly-sur-Seine Treaty of 1919 , some states such as Austria , Germany, Hungary and Bulgaria considered compulsory work programs for young men that should reflect the educational value of military service. The Bulgarian state under Aleksandar Stambolijski actually implemented this in 1920 . For socio-political motives, he introduced forced labor , to which 30 percent of the population were drafted every year to do charitable work.

The Bulgarian example was noticed in numerous circles in Germany, including by conservative and moderately left politicians. The politicians found it impressive that in Bulgaria the unemployed were off the streets and that necessary work was being carried out at the lowest possible cost; the labor service also appeared as a national school in which young people were educated to be loyal citizens - under the motto "Za Balgarija trud" (work for Bulgaria) - and they also learned to read, write, personal hygiene, etc.

In 1924, Bündische youth groups demanded the introduction of a working year for young people. The Silesian Young Team (SJ) was of major importance for the Bundische labor camp movement. The approximately 200 older leaders of the Wandervogels in the SJ were particularly committed to the educational work that was to be carried out through labor services. In 1925, after a phase of experimentation, Bündische groups began to set up labor camps. Artur Mahraun , chairman (grand master) of the Young German Order (JO) appeared as the most ardent advocate of “general, equal labor service” . This association even sought a referendum to introduce compulsory labor service, but this did not materialize at that time due to lack of finance and formal legal provisions.

In addition to romantic emancipatory aspects (. Eg with regard to the independence of young people, their "self-education" through labor ) and a class -wide understanding have also been linked national-romantic notions with the Labor Service:

“The process of becoming a people should be prepared in the leagues of the youth movement . Here one wanted “to reorganize the state and society based on the idea of ​​nationality and thus guarantee the organic interaction of all parts across all classes, parties and denominations. ... The federal government as a community form of the Bundischen youth was a means and a method to achieve the educational goal at the same time. Here the conditioning of the young person for his political task took place by exemplifying the “national community” in these communities and educating the individual to consciously perceive his actions as a service to them. "

- Karl Bühler

Job creation measures as a result of the Great Depression in 1929

Voluntary labor service for the Reich Banner in December 1931 at the Lehnmühle dam in the Ore Mountains. All volunteers were craftsmen and received 50 pfennigs daily in addition to free board and lodging.

In response to the high unemployment caused by the Great Depression from 1929 onwards , several nation-states established voluntary service programs to provide replacements for young unemployed people.

In Germany, when a law came into force under Chancellor Heinrich Brüning on August 3, 1931, the " Voluntary Labor Service " (FAD) was founded, in which unemployed people under the age of 25 could be employed for up to 20 weeks, primarily in social or youth work. The first labor service project was carried out by the JO in cooperation with the municipality of Bautzen / Saxony with the regulation of the Albrechtsbach. Until the JO was banned in July 1933, this association alone organized and led 454 such charitable projects. After the National Socialists came to power in Germany in 1933, the voluntary labor service served a predominantly propagandistic and military defined benefit. In 1935 he was converted into a forced labor service, renamed Reich Labor Service and was part of the armament of the Wehrmacht and the education under National Socialism .

In the USA, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was founded in the spring of 1933 , also as a job creation measure for young unemployed people from 1933 to 1942. The CCC was the most extensive program under the New Deal , with President Franklin D. Roosevelt fought the Great Depression in the wake of the Great Depression . During its existence, 3,463,766 volunteers worked on the public infrastructure under the guidance of reserve officers of the US Army .

After the Second World War

As after the First World War, the need for international understanding and help with reconstruction was high after 1945. Numerous organizations for international voluntary service have been established. The UNESCO created in 1948 with the Co-ordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service an umbrella organization for NGOs who were active in this area (CCIVS).

Due to the echoes of the Reich Labor Service, the term “labor service” got its negative meaning in Germany. However, some elements of the original concepts survived in many places under different names, for example as international volunteer work in the International Youth Community Services , in development aid and / or the US Peace Corps as a concept of helping people to help themselves and as a regulatory measure in community work as an operation of Welfare recipients. In the GDR , too , in the 1950s, the positive basic idea of ​​a labor service was tied up under the name Service for Germany .

Voluntary service at European level

Voluntary service in Germany

There are currently many voluntary services, the best known and recommended by the Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth are:

There is also the in Germany

Voluntary service in Austria

the best-known services, which are also recognized as alternative services for community service , are:

Voluntary service in Switzerland

In Switzerland, volunteer service is not recognized as a substitute for community service. There are also no other state-organized employment opportunities. There are various private or church organizations and institutions that offer such opportunities or rely on the use of volunteers. Sometimes they are limited in terms of age or time, for example only during the summer, etc. In many cases they are designed for work abroad, such as the Voluntary Service Weltweitblick . The offer "Klosterzeit" as a further example provides men between the ages of 18 and the beginning of 30 assignments in various Benedictine monasteries around the world. However, some offers are also explicitly based in Switzerland.

See also


  • Jörn Fischer, Katja Clowes: International voluntary services - learning and helping abroad. 3rd edition, interconnections, Freiburg im Breisgau 2010, ISBN 978-3-86040-092-0 .
  • Jörn Fischer, Oliver Gräf: Civil Service Worldwide - International Alternatives to Civil Service. 4th edition, interconnections, Freiburg im Breisgau 2006, ISBN 3-86040-079-7 .
  • Henry W. Riecken, The volunteer work camp , Harvard University (1952)
  • Dieter Claessens , Dieter Danckwortt, Youth in Community Services , Munich: Juventa (1957)
  • Friedhelm Boll, In Search of Democracy , Bonn 1997.
  • Sibylle Tönnies: Hartz IV needs a new spirit , in: Uwe Carstens u. a., Reorganization of Social Services , Norderstedt 2006, pp. 287–304, ISBN 3-8334-6477-1 .
  • Dieter Hauhart: Voluntary work , Swiss observer, Zurich 2000, ISBN 3-85569-199-1 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Arbeitsdienst  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Tony Geudens: T-Kit No. 5. International voluntary service . 2013, p. 11.
  2. a b Geudens, p. 13.
  3. a b Geudens, p. 14
  4. Wolf Oschlies: The Reich Labor Service (RAD). RAD - youth with a spade . Working group “The future needs memories”. October 15, 2004, revised July 8, 2017
  5. See also Joh. Hille, Mahraun, der Pionier des Arbeitsdienst , Leipzig: R. Kittler (1933), p. 36
  6. ^ Karl Bühler 1975, quoting F. Raabe
  7. Geudens, p. 15.
  8. https://www.bafza.de/haben/freiwilligendienste.html
  9. ^ BMFSFJ: Voluntary Services / Diocese Rottenburg-Stuttgart
  10. https://www.bafza.de/lösungen/freiwilligendienste/anderer-dienst-im-ausland.html
  11. https://www.bmfsfj.de/bmfsfj/themen/engagement-und-gesellschaft/freiwilligendienste/jugendfreiwilligendienste/anderer-dienst-im-ausland/anderer-dienst-im-ausland--adia-/96678?view=DEFAULT
  12. https://www.bundesfreiwilligendienst.de/fileadmin/de.bundesfreiwilligendienst/content.de/Service_Menue_Kopf/Presse/Statistiken/180731-BL_Alter_u_Geschlecht_07_18.pdf
  13. https://www.br.de/nachrichten/deutschland-welt/corona-kriseneinsaetze-fuer-freiwillige-giffey-startet-plattform,RvT0CkS
  14. https://www.bafza.de/lösungen/freiwilligendienste/freiwilliges-soziales-und-freiwilliges-oekologisches-jahr.html
  15. https://www.br.de/nachrichten/deutschland-welt/corona-kriseneinsaetze-fuer-freiwillige-giffey-startet-plattform,RvT0CkS
  16. https://freiwilligendienste-kultur-bildung.de/
  17. https://www.bafza.de/lösungen/freiwilligendienste/internationaler-jugendfreiwilligendienst.html
  18. https://www.ijfd-info.de/startseite.html
  19. https://www.bmfsfj.de/bmfsfj/themen/engagement-und-gesellschaft/freiwilligendienste/jugendfreiwilligendienste/internationaler-jugendfreiwilligendienst/internationaler-jugendfreiwilligendienst-bietet-neue-engagementmoegitäten/88798?view=DEFAULT
  20. ^ Volkshilfe Wien: Voluntary social year at Volkshilfe Wien ( Memento from November 7, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) (last accessed on November 8, 2016)
  21. Social career orientation Vorarlberg gemn. GesmbH: Information sheet for people obliged to do community service - Voluntary social year as an alternative (last accessed on November 8, 2016)
  22. http://www.jugendumwelt.at/de/programme/freiwilliges-umweltjahr/zivildienstätze
  23. voluntary service world vision
  24. Monastery time