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Deutsche Turnbewegung

German Athletics Movement

Last modified: 2021-01-09 by peter hans van den muijzenberg
Keywords: deutsche turnbewegung | deutscher bund | jahn(friedrich ludwig) | turnvater |
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[Colours of German Athletics' Movement] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 7 Sep 2012
colours of German athletics' movement
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Historical Introduction

-On 14 November 1810 the German Federation (Deutscher Bund), a secret organisation, was established by Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, having two main targets: end of French occupation and unification of Germany, which had been split up long before into small, sovereign territories.

-On 31 August 1819 in Karlsbad decisions had been made, caused by Austrian chancellor Metternich, in order to fight and observe liberal and national tendencies within the states of the German Confederation.

-Due to the decisions of Karlsbad athletes were persecuted as demagogues. The persecution included a complete ban of athletics from 1820 to 6 June 1842.

-On 3 April 1848 German Athletics Federation ((1st) Deutscher Turner Bund) was established in Hanau, presided by Th. Georgii. The members were monarchist and republican athletics as well.

-On 3 July 1848 the republicans seceded forming the Democratic Athletics Federation (Demokratischer Turnerbund) also in Hanau.

-In August 1849 there had been an attempt of reunification and foundation of an All German Athletics Federation (Allg.Dtscher. Turnerbund/ ADTB), which was probably dominated by republicans, because in April 1850 the DTB decided to keep politics out of athletics, while ADTB claimed the principles of the French Revolution.

-Later the DTB was the only one to escape from being banned again.

-In 1856 Deutsche Turnzeitung (German Athletics News) was founded in Leipzig

-On 19 June 1860 German Athletics Union (Deutsche Turnerschaft / DT) de facto was established in Coburg as all German umbrella organisation.

-In 1861, after the Athletics Festival held in Berlin, the (1st) DTB was incorporated as regional organisation for Northern Germany into the union.

-On 27 July 1934 the German Realm's Union for Physical Exercises (Deutscher Reichsbund für Leibesübungen / DRL) was established, which was renamed into National Socialist Realm's Union for Physical Exercises (Nationalsozialistischer Reichsbund für Leibesübungen / NSRL) on 21 July1938. The NSRL was a civil organization of the NSDAP and the umbrella organisation of all German sports. The DT was incorporated and transformed respectively downgraded to the "Department of Athletics" (Fachamt Turnen) within the framework of the NSRL. The department was head of more than 12,000 athletics clubs having altogether more than 650,000 members. The NSRL was dissolved on 31 May 1945.

-After WW2 the German Provisional Committee of Athletics (Deutscher Arbeitsausschuss Turnen) was established in Northeim on 13 September 1947 and prepared the re-establishment of the DTB. Finally in 1950 the DTB was reestablished in Tübingen.

-On 10 December 1995 the board of the DTB decides 3 April 1848 as day of foundation of the association.
Sources: Harald Braun: " Gründungsgeschichte des DTB", dtb Pressedienst and Dietmar Reppin: "Northeim 1947 als Wiege des Deutschen Turnerbundes"
information provided by Wilhelm Pappert, archivist of DTB
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 Sep 2012

The Life of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn

Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (1778 - 1852)

Jahn was born in the village of Lanz/Brandenburg on 11 August 1778. He was taught by his mother. His father, a reverend taught him Latin. Friedrich Ludwig there lived a life of ease and had a lot of freedom. In 1792 he visits his first school in Salzwedel. He has problems with the discipline in school and gets entries in the book of punishment nearly every day, for he is often involved in brawls. Finally he has to leave the school without any graduation.

This pattern is repeated in several schools and finally at the university. Jahn has trouble with the professors and avoids exams, yes, a real exam phobia emerges. After seven long years he quits university, again without graduation. He works as a teacher in a private school in Berlin since 1809. He fails however in getting a better paid job in a public school due to his exam phobia. Instead he makes athletics popular.

On 14 November 1810 he establishes the German Federation (Deutscher Bund), a secret organisation having two main targets: end of French occupation and unification of Germany, which had been split up long before into small, sovereign territories. The federation is considered to be the mother of all German students' fraternities.

"Frisch, fromm, frööhlich, frei", the motto later on to be found on many flags of German sports clubs, is also the slogan to initiate the first German outdoor athletics field in Hasenheide/Berlin on 18 June 1811. The German athletics movement is started. Inbetween Jahn is commander of a battalion in the wars against Napoleon. Between 1814 and 1817 a boom of athletics arises. In 1817 there are 12,000 athletes, organised in 150 local clubs.

In 1815 Jahn publishes the book "Deutsches Volkstum" (lit.: German folklore), he manages to make it one of the set books of German students in the following years. Athletics in this book is propagated as a males only affair, as a pre military exercise of the body and an improvement of capabilities in general.

Jahns political activities make him a suspicious person in the eyes of the German rulers, especially also in Prussia itself. Jahn is suspected to be the spiritual causer of Wartburg Festival on 18 October 1817, although he didn't participate personally. That festival began modest and ended among others by burning scriptures, which had been considered as unprogressive by the participants. Jahn also was considered to be the causer of the murder of German poet August von Kotzebue in March 1819. As the result of that crime decisions were made in Karlsbad on 31 August 1819. Athletics was completely banned in 1820 and as a side effect Jahn was imprisoned in 1819.

Jahn is rehabilitated in 1840 by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV and gains the iron cross for his merits. In 1842 the ban of athletics ends. In 1848 Jahn becomes MP of German Parliament in Frankfurt/Main. In 1852 he dies in Freyburg upon Unstrut/Thuringia.

Jahn also gained the honorary title of a "father of athletics" (Turnvater Jahn)
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 Sep 2012

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