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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 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.

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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

 

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