As a bi-annual e-journal NaturFreundeGeschichte/NatureFriendsHistory wants to improve access to the many-facetted history of the Naturfreunde/Nature Friends/Friends of Nature movement. It goes without saying that it harks back on a wide variety of research in other media. In spite of its, by and large. scholarly approach the journal tries to address topics of general relevance.As indicated in its name, its perspective is an international one; gratefully, logistical and financial support by the Bavarian Nature Friends made the project possible.
Volume 9.1 (2021)
… presents seven different approaches to various aspects of the history of the Nature Friends. – In his contribution on Friedrich Engels as a Social Hiker Klaus-Dieter Gross discusses to what an extent elements of the early 20th century Naturfreunde concept of Social Hiking can already be found in the research methodology of this outstanding theoretician of the Labor Movement, whose 200th anniverary was celebrated in 2020. – In the 1.1. (2013)-volume of this online journal Manfred Winter introduced an innovative approach to presenting Naturfreunde history; focussing on the regional history in Berlin and Brandenburg he outlines a thoroughly reshaped version of this digital project. – Hans Peter Schmitz reminds us of a film documentary on an international Nature Friends Youth meeting in 1952; it evokes the mood of how the German Naturfreunde regained access to the international movement at a time when the dark years of fascism were still vividly present. – Eugen Strähle was himself the leader of the Göppingen local´s 1966 expedition to Spitsbergen; here he re-publishes a multi-facetted documentation of the venture. – The 45th anniverary of the International Naturefriends Youth organization in 2020 initiated Frank Hoppe´s bilingual survey of materials on its first quarter-century. – In the review section, with a focus on the local Black Forest community of Waldkirch Rüdiger Binkle then introduces Wolfram Wette´s comprehensive volume on the all-encompassing local effects of German Nazism between 1933 and 1945. – The pre-history of the German and American New Left is dealt with in an impressive book by Michael Frey; Klaus-Dieter Gross finally argues that the volume is significant not just for historians in general but also for enhancing research on the history of the German Naturfreunde in particular.
Volume 8.2 (2020)
… in its main contributions focuses on the Naturfreunde´s occasionally divergent historical self-images within the socialist Labor movement. From early on their practices fluctuated between claims for either a radical break with the predominant social conditions or in how far existing (conservative, civilian) values might be helpful in step-by-step strategies for change. Such contradictions already characterized the organization when it was founded in 1895. In the format of city hikes through Vienna Han Verschuur develops the underlying and controversial narratives in a comprehensively illustated two-part essay. Concentrating on the cultural activities of the Nature Friends in the USA – of which only the Californian branch has survived – Klaus-Dieter Gross analyzes how these practices began to fork out into two almost imcompatible directions. – The resources section reprints a 1910 talk by Wilhelm Hühnermann which outlines the ecological concepts at the time when the club formally adopted nature preservation as a core concept. A 1932 one-page vigette by the Saxonian Nature Friends Youths then nicely visualizes their activities and aims. And Bernd Hüttner, in the review section, intruduces a volume on vagrants who nevertheless self-confidently saw themselves as part of the working-class movement.
Volume 8.1 (2020)
… is mainy dedicated to documentary materials. Provided by Karl Schmalz, the records written by the German local of Hof/Saale render its history from its founding in 1921 through the thriving years of the Weimar Republic and its consecutive ban by the Nazis to the reconstruction years up to 1951. – In his contribution, Thomas Hensel introduces one highly personal report of a vacation at the Chur (Switzerland) Nature Friends Home of Brambrüech in 1960. – Celebrating the seventieth anniversary of the Oberrheinische Naturfreunde Internationale (Nature Friends International of the Upper Rhine Region), Werner Kästle continues to write its history and adds visual documents of a more recent kind. – In the reprint of a brochure about the 1982 expedition to the Himalayas organized by his Göppingen local, Siegfried Siebauer celebrates the pending fortieth anniversary oft he event. Finally, Klaus-Dieter Gross reviews a volume published in celebration of the 125th birthday of the Austrian national Naturfreunde.
Volume 7.2 (2019)
puts its emphasis on more recent aspects of the history of the German Nature Friends / Friends of Nature. Luca Schirmer analyses potential readjustments the German federal Naturfreunde level made following a fundamental policy shift in the wake of the nuclear catastrophe in Chernobyl. In most personal glimpses of his long history as a environmental activist and leading figure of the Naturfreunde, Hans Peter Schmitz recalls the opposition he faced by other functionaries and organizations before environmentalism finally became the standard discourse it is today.
In the documentary section, Manfed Keierleber introduces the mountaineering activities of his own local of Göppingen, which took him as far as the South American Cordilleras. In a second document and with an introduction by Jürgen Lamprecht, in his last letter to the editor of the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper, recently deceased Klaus Vack outlines his anti-militaristic motivations and the role the Naturfreunde, in particular his Offenbach local, played in his life. In the review section, Klaus-Dieter Gross introduces a volume on the left-wing critique of sports in the 1970s and 1980s in (West-)Germany.
Volume 7.1 (2019)
… once again concentrates on aspects of the history of the German branch of the international Nature Friends movement.
Klaus-Dieter Gross provides a historical survey of the Nature Friends´ key concept of Social Hiking (Soziales Wandern), a practice unique to the club, which combines recreation, the experience of solidarity, and political intentions. Saskia Scheler then gets closer to the present in her introduction to the “Stärkenberatung“ project, a consulting and support network promoting democratic participation both within the organization and in society as a whole.
In the review section Peter Poelloth has a close look at the catalogue on “Wanderland“, an exhibition devoted to the history of hiking in Germany in 2018/19 presented at the prestigious German Nationalmuseum Nürnberg, including exhibits from the Naturfreunde past. Finally, Helmut Neuzig introduces a comprehensive documentation of “the first one hundred years“ of the Naturfreunde local of Düsseldorf.
Volume 6.2 (2018)
… in particular focusses on German Naturfreunde history, partly crossing over into Austrian and Czech developments. Concentrating on the 1950s, in more detailed ways two texts deal with the history of the German Nature Friends Youth.
In the main section, Klaus-Dieter Gross examines how the contested German term of „Heimat“ (homeland) has, from the very beginnings, had a variety of meanings in the organization´s members´ magazines – including by now forgotten progressive ones. Berg frei – Berg heil! is a document from the 1920s which ironically plays on the meanings of greeting phrases. Rainer Pasta compiles text passages highlighting the cooperation of Social Democrats and Naturfreunde in resisting the Nazi regime; in this context, he concentrates on the rarely discussed regions of Eastern Bavaria and the (Czech if German-speaking) Sudetenland. Gerdi Ihl and Hans Peter Schmitz then remind us of the impacts of personalities like Ernst Reinhard and Henner Berzau on the Mainz and the Cologne Nature Friends Youth in the 1950s.
In the review section Manfred Eiselt introduces a comprehesive history of Saxonian hiking and mountaineering between 1933 and 1945, including the acitivites of the then illegalized German Naturfreunde. Yannick Passeick discusses a publication dealing with rightwing tendencies to (again) infiltrate ecological movements. Manfred Rohm introduces a website on the cultural (and finally successful) opposition against a nuclear reprocessing plant in the Bavarian village of Wackersdorf. And Bernd Hüttner, on the one hand, reviews a book on Monte Veritá, a bourgeois Swiss dropout colony, which helps to understand differences with more collective-minded Nature Friends activities; on the other hand, he presents an anthology on youth culture and social movements that can serve as a backdrop to better understand the history of the (German) Nature Friends Youth.
Volume 6.1 (2018)
… once again focusses on German-speaking segments of the organization. A documentation compiled by a workgroup on Nature Friends history (Arbeitskreis Naturfreunde-Geschichte) gives examples on how the club is present in German street names. Manfred Geiss, in a personal flashback, refers to the impact of the Hessian Nature Friends Youth on the German Easter march movement in the early 1960s. Finally, Manfred Eiselt comments on the reproduction of a local school project on the Fürth (Bavaria) anti-fascist and Nazi victim Dr. Rudolf Benario the Naturfreunde are involved with.
In the review section, complementing Eiselt´s text through an Austrian example, Klaus-Dieter Gross recommends a biography of the Vienna Nature Friend Josef Baldermann, who was likewise killed by the Nazis. And Bernd Hüttner discusses a volume on the conservative, partly reactionary life reform movements of the early 20th century, a book that can highlight major differences between these groups and the proletarian Naturfreunde.
Volume 5.2 (2017)
… concentrates on the historical backgrounds of the German branch of the Naturfreunde. Against the backdrop of the general history of the 1970s, in the main essay Klaus-Dieter Gross takes a glance at contemporary changes within the German Nature Friends; tentatively he draws consequences for the club´s present development. Hans-Peter Schmitz presents and comments on a memorandum of the Sauerländische Gebirgsverein; immediately after World War Two, as a former part of the Nazi infrastructure, the club proposes a merger with the until recently illegal, anti-fascist Nature Friends on the basis of their own, vastly unchanged, ideological and linguistic patterns. In two reviews, Bernd Hüttner introduces a volume on the politization of an organization similar to the German Young Nature Friends, the Bund Deutscher PfadfinderInnen, and a Thuringian example of how Anarcho-Syndikalists before 1933 – not unlike the Nature Friends – realized their own Bakuninhütte clubhouse as a hub of leisure-time and political activities. Once again the editors want to emphasize that for the future of the Naturfreundegeschichte/NatureFriendsHistory project a more international scholarly perspective will be necessary.
Volume 5.1 (2017)
… brings together texts referring to the three historically oldest Nature Friends organizations. A review of a book on Fritz Moravec praises the international impact of this famed Austrian mountaineer. From the Swiss national organization, the Landquart local is presented through a survey of its history plus a detailed report on the origins of its mountain home. In a 1970s speech, the (then) future head of the German Naturfreunde, Hans Peter Schmitz, sketches out the development of modern environmental thinking. A second contribution introduces Otto Kohlhofer, a communist opponent of the Nazi regime, who after liberation devoted his final years to the Nature Friends. Once again, the texts exclusively cover German-speaking regions, thus not representing the full range of Nature Friend´s activities. For the future of this online-journal a more international and broader scholarly perspective will be necessary.
Volume 4.2 (2016)
… documents diverse narratives from the broad scope of Nature Friends activities, including their clubhouses old and new, nature conservation projects and the now defunct German-speaking branch in Czechoslovakia. The international aspect is underrepresented nevertheless, as there are no essays in languages other than German. In a similar way, the call for papers on the impact of history on the future of the Nature Friends in volume 3.2 (2015) did not really fall on fertile ground. As the relevance of the topic remains, we are looking forward to contributions on the matter in future editions of this e-journal.
The section on the Feldberghaus in the Black Forest reprints both the original brochure of its inauguration and images from its building phase compiled by Fritz Hönig. The Nature Friends in the Czech if German-speaking Sudetenland before the Nazi invasion is represented through a reprint from a volume compiled by the social democratic Seliger-Gemeinde in 1970. Werner Kästle then sums up six decades of his activities as a nature scout in his southwest German home area. And finally a review by Bernd Hüttner introduces a volume celebrating forty years of young Nature Friends´ activities at an alternative youth club the northern German city of Bremen.
Volume 4.1 (2016)
… is less comprehensive in scope than previous volumes. Although the journal has created much interest in readers, it lacks writers contributing texts and documents on the multiple aspects of the club´s history. This invitation to contribute also refers to the call for paters published in volume 3.2 (2015) on the role of historical research plays in sketching out future aspects of the organization.
Werner Kästle reports on a regional cooperation of Nature Friends, the Oberrheinische Naturfreunde-Internationale (ONI), which helped bridge historical rifts after the Second World War by practically bringing together members from neutral Switzerland, the French Alsace province and South West Germany. A documentation of an expedition by the Bavarian Nature Friends in 1966 to the Hindukush mountain region sheds light not only on the specific conditions of such an effort in a particularly Naturfreunde perspective, but also opens out eyes of a more peaceful if more medieval Afghanistan. Klaus-Dieter Gross then reviews Axel Honneths book Die Idee des Sozialismus, in which the author tries to revitalize the concept of socialism as a critical tool in the strugggle for a better society.
Volume 3.2 (2015)
… reaches out into new target areas. For one, it introduces the e-journal as a platform to discuss the future of the Nature Friends in a historical perspective; its thematic scope is also extended by a contribution to the presence of the Naturfreunde in literary history and by a first Swiss contribution to the journal. Other reprints deal with local and mountaineering history. Sadly, for the present edition no texts written in English were available.
This number of NFG-H opens with a call for papers on Past, Present and Future: Aspects of a Sustainable Future for the Nature Friends/Friends of Nature in a Historical Perspective – a project to be published in the 4.2 (2016) edition. An essay with a literary focus written by Klaus-Dieter Gross deals with the growing (if never really prominent) role of the Naturfreunde in the life and works of Bavarian author Oskar Maria Graf; contacts began during the early years in exile and climax in Graf´s years at the New York Nature Friends´ Camp Midvale.
The documentary section reprints three festschrift-type brochures – on more than one hundred years of Nature Friends of the local at Chur (Switzerland), on the centennial of the German local of Tuttlingen (including panels shown at an exhibition); and on the great Andes expedition of the German Naturfreunde in 1971.
In the review section Hans-Rainer Arnold introduces a volume on the touristic history of „Saxon Switzerland“, an Eastern German mountain area also promoted by the local Nature Friends.
Volume 3.1 (2015)
… continues debates sketched out in the previous editions. Again the focus is on political aspects of the organization, concentrating on Germany and the USA. This being only a small segment of the local/regional/national scope of the Naturfreunde/Nature Friends/Friends of Nature and their wide range of ecological, social, cultural, and sports-connected activities, the editors gladly invite new contributors to further extend the range of topics and themes discussed in this journal.
In his text on the falling apart of the American Nature Friends in the 1940s and 1950s, Klaus-Dieter Gross presents the conflict between the Eastern and Western districts in the USA and its complex set of the political and other causes. He also discusses the role the Naturfreunde Internationale played in the “split.”
In the documentary section Hubert Höfer outlines a conference the Saxon regional organization held on the 25th anniversary of the reestablishment of the Naturfreunde in Eastern Germany. At the same conference, Hans-Dieter Opitz presented an outline of the reestablishment of the Naturfreunde in Eastern Germany after the demise of the GDR; his reading version is reprinted here. In a short but innovative outline then the Naturfreundejugend, the German youth organization, seeks ways of making its history interesting also to the younger generation.
In the review section Klaus-Dieter Gross discusses a political biography of Fritz Rück, the first comprehensive history of a German Naturfreunde leader ever written.
Volume 2.1 (2014)
… opens the second year of this journal´s existence. It continues debates mainly on the history of the German and the American Naturfreunde/Nature Friends. This focus does in no way represent the full thematic and national/regional range of the organization, though. The editors hope for an extended scope of contributions in future editions.
Recently on a local level there has been renewed interest in the (all but forgotten) history of the Nature Friends in the New York region. Reacting to this, Klaus-Dieter Gross outlines the history of the defunct New York local and its camps from its founding in 1910 to its dissolution in the wake of the anti-communist witch-hunts of the late 1940s/early 1950s. – In his contribution on nudism and its concepts of freedom and the human body, John Alexander Williams addresses a topic of Weimar Republic culture which had repercussions within the working class movement and the Naturfreunde in particular. – Joachim Schindler, in a long and well-documented contribution (here for technical reasons split up into three documents) discusses why after the Second World War the Naturfreunde were not reestablished in Eastern Germany; he questions popular misconceptions that the organization was simply banned in the GDR.
The centennial of the Saxon Naturfreunde´s Zirkelsteinhaus is commemorated by a republication of a 1999 brochure compiled by the Dresden NaturFreunde. – Another aspect of regional history is addressed in Karin Ahmed Adamietz´ highly personal comment on the renewed interest in Camp Midvale (New Jersey/New York), which up to the 1950s had been the biggest Nature Friends Camp in the USA. – Gerhard Flegel´s documentation of memories and visual materials presents elements of the unwritten history of the Nürnberg local.
In the review section Jochen Zimmer introduces a book on the indispensable if neglected role of the local Alpine populations who as “sherpas” made mountaineering possible. – Klaus-Dieter Gross appreciates two American volumes on Weimar Republic culture which include extensive discussions of the German Naturfreunde.
Volume 2.2 (2014)
… continues relevant debates of the previous numbers and at the same time marks new horizons in particular in the field of the Naturfreundes´ daily practices. Once again the histories of the German and (US-)American organizations are addressed. A major step towards further internationalizing the scope of NaturfreundeGeschichte/ NatureFriendsHistory is made by including a new country – Slovakia.
John Alexander Williams´ contribution, from an American perspective, sheds light on the role German Naturfreunde played as part of the Weimar Republic working-class movement. – Harv Galic traces the story of Konrad und Anna Rettenbacher from their emigration from Nuremberg to their deaths in the Californian Sierra Nevada, including a description of the role of mountaineering among Californian Nature Friends in the 1930s. – Joachim Schindler then calls to our attention the little-known history of the Slovakian (and, in part, Czech) organizations before the Nazis´ invasions in the late 1930s.
Everyday practices of the Naturfreunde/Nature Friends are discussed in texts by Robert Grötschel und Klaus-Dieter Gross. – Using the example of popular Christmas cribs, Grötschel shows how elements of working-class conscience found their way into originally religious traditions. – Gross picks the example of the ballgame of fistball to discuss how a sport mainly exercised in Central Europe was transferred to the New York Nature Friends´ Camp Midvale.
Ferdinand Esser then provides the documents on the post-World War II efforts of the Rosenheim local to regain their mountain retreat Breitenberghütte confiscated by the Nazis after illegalizing the Naturfreunde in 1933. – Finally, a picture page of fictional postal stamps reflects a serious if playfully realized attempt to visualize elements of the history of the Nature Friends.
Volume 1.2 (2013)
…in part addresses the conditions under which the German Naturfreunde-movement was illegalized by the Nazis eighty years ago. This is not supposed to modify the international character of our publishing project in general, though. And as much as the events of 1933 foreground classically political matters, there is no need to remind readers that at the heart of the Naturfreunde/Nature Friends/Friends of Nature practices we find a wide range of ecological, social, cultural, and sports-connected activities. The editors would welcome a broadening of focus for the two volumes planned for 2014, with more contributions on the variety of Naturfreunde activities, with additional faces on the editorial board, new authors, wider thematic and local/regional/national perspectives, and innovative research methodology.
In a text commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Naturfreunde in Tübingen (Germany), Hermann Bausinger exemplarily addresses the question of how from moderate beginnings the Nature Friends / Friends of Nature idea could take a permanent hold. Joachim Schindler offers a re-reading of two texts already published if no more easily available. His analysis of the early Nature Friends homes at Königstein fortress on the river Elbe discusses a major chapter in the club´s history in Saxony. His second essay deals with the main topic of this volume and analyzes the resistence movement of the „red mountaineers“ in Saxony´s Elbsandsteingebirge, adding methodological hints at how to turn these findings into practical group activities.
Concentrating on local history, Klaus-Dieter Gross raises the question of how illegalizing clubs and branches – in this case the local in Regensburg – affected them in concrete terms.
Ferdinand Esser then presents a full documentation of the bitter infights of fascist and Nazi-connected organizations about who was to take over the Breitenberghütte of the Rosenheim local after its confiscation in 1933. The early history of the Naturfreunde branch in Chicago, Ill., is outlined by Klaus-Dieter Gross. He presents photos of the 1920s made by German emigrant Walter Wieland and sketches out some historical contexts.
In the review section Peter Poelloth – again addressing the major topic of this volume – introduces a recent book on „Nature Friends and Resistance“, and Klaus-Dieter Gross discusses the full-range volume on the 100th anniversary of the Naturfreunde local of Tübingen, in which H. Bausinger´s essay (above) had originally appeared.
Volume 1.1 (2013)
…covers thematically and methodically the intended range of subjects at least in principle. But we are aware of the fact that this is just a beginning. For future volumes we invite extensions with respect to the number of editors and authors, to thematic, local/regional/national perspectives, and to research methodology.
Joachim Schindler, in a comprehensively illustrated essay, elaborates on the history of photography for the Nature Friends in Saxony, highlighting its double function as a way of self-fulfillment and as a means of political action.
Klaus-Dieter Gross addresses a local conflict of the 1920s, when Nature Friends youths were exposed to quasi-official anti-progressive activities. Monika von Walter analyses the long way of a Nature Friends property in the Alpine Spitzing area from its expropriation by the Nazis in 1933 back into the arms of the organization in 2013.
Manfred Winter then exemplifies methodological questions of how to present the Nature Friends´ history in virtual space, bringing together a host of materials from Berlin club(s) on a common platform. In her analysis of the guestbooks of the Bamberg clubhouses,
Stefanie Kiessling proposes to use this kind of documentation for a deeper reading of the history of the target groups attracted by these clubhouses.
In his image plus text presentation dedicated to the one hundredth anniversary of the Saxonian Nature Friends, Hubert Höfer outlines its intricate and complex history. Roman Brugger takes a more local perspective when he sums up key events in the history of a successful suburban club in the environs of Munich, the Würmtal local.
Mary Caldwell-Kane, in her project outline on Camp Midvale, sketches out research on Camp Midvale, a former huge Nature Friends´ camp near New York. And finally, Klaus-Dieter Gross´ small compilation of sources reports on the first if abortive flowering of the idea of the Friends of Nature in London almost one hundred years ago.