Moderne Jugend?

Younth at the Francke Foundations, 1890-1933

Ausstellungsgrafik von »Moderne Jugend«: Sie sehen ein Zitat der Schülerin Barbara Holdefleiß aus dem Jahr 1927: »Von da an fing ich an, über die Dinge für mich selbst nachzudenken.«

The annual exhibition »Moderne Jugend? « is the only exhibition in the Bauhaus anniversary to be dedicated to the phase of youth in the period of »Classical Modernism«. It does this using the example of the Francke Foundations, which are until today an authentic place of youthful life and possess an outstanding wealth of sources, which is shown here for the first time. The exhibition begins in 1890, two years after the accession of Kaiser Wilhelm II to the throne, and ends in 1933 with the closure of the Bauhaus. The starting point is formed by over 170 curriculum vitae of pupils, in which the upheavals of the time are reflected in an impressive way: the beginning of emancipation and individualisation, the effects and possibilities of the mass media, the wounds and experiences of the First World War and also the emergence of the art of Classical Modernism. The multimedia exhibition trail presents around 400 exhibits, including over 300 contemporary photographs and testimonies of young people, a large number of original film and sound documents, and valuable loans of important works of New Objectivity. The result is a complex panorama of modernism that is astonishingly close to the world of youth and also takes a timeless look at the life phase of youth.

The Classroom

»We weren't treated like schoolchildren who had nothing to think and say, but like independent thinkers and judges.«

Youth as an independent and socially recognized phase of life emerged at the end of the 19th century. Particularly in the cities, the social focus was increasingly on young people. For many it became an ideal, but also an instrument: state, church, parties, school and family deliberately tried to shape it according to their ideas. The Francke Foundations, in which boys and girls of all social classes were taught, saw themselves bound to Christian, supernatural, Prussian imperial and German national values. What role did the foundation schools play in the curriculum vitae of the pupils?

The scene

»Again and again I was tormented by the question: Why should our father die? «

The stormy social change in the modern age, driven by industrialization, urbanization and cultural upheavals, determined the course of our youth just as much as the world political events between the Empire, the First World War and the Weimar Republic. How did the upheavals, militarization, and war experience affect the young people?

The Workshop

»I felt like becoming an engineer, as I showed some technical skills too. For example, I built a radio on my own.«

While around 1900 it was still the classical print media, from 1905 cinema conquered the cities and since the 1920s radio was regarded as the modern medium par excellence. Contemporary audio, text and film documents explore the effects of modern mass media: Did they serve more as a means of information and indoctrination or as their own, youthful form of expression?

The Ring

»strive to find the purity of the idea and want to create it, shape it as an artist.«

In the manifesto of the Brücke artists' group of 1906 it says: »[...] we call all young people together and as youth who bear the future, we want to create for ourselves freedom of life and poverty« . Top-class Expressionist works of art and, above all, New Objectivity provide a very specific view of youth, which in modernism became an independent artistic motif for the first time. The works of the former foundation student Wilhelm Krieg are also outstanding here.

The Stadium

»I was fascinated by the sport from an early age.«

Football, gymnastics, expressive dance: physical culture and modern sport developed into a social mass phenomenon after 1900. Sport was not only practised in schools and clubs, but also had a decisive influence on young people's leisure time. The success of physical culture also made modern gymnastics and 'wild' dance socially acceptable for girls and young women.

The school-leaving examination

»And the young heart is always in anxiety, whether to win or lose, whether to rejoice or suffer.«

In the exhibition, the horizon of expectation of adults meets the world of young people: Are school and educational perspectives rather understood as success stories or do they leave behind a feeling of crisis or failure? In numerous documents from the archive of the Francke Foundations, the young people themselves have their say. They provide insights into their everyday lives, their worries, fears, dreams and moments of happiness. Often death was part of their young lives. But above all, they show young people who lived and laughed, were enthusiastic about dance, cinema or sport, were enthusiastic about art and were looking for the love of their lives.


Moderne Jugend? –

Museum educational offer
Klassen 7–12
Geschichte, Politik
Rundgang durch die Jahresausstellung

Ausstellungsgrafik von »Moderne Jugend«: Sie sehen ein Zitat der Schülerin Barbara Holdefleiß aus dem Jahr 1927: »Von da an fing ich an, über die Dinge für mich selbst nachzudenken.«

Die Jahresausstellung „Moderne Jugend?“ beleuchtet die Lebensphase Jugend im Zeitraum von 1890 bis 1933. In welchem Maße unterscheidet sich die Lebenswelt von Jugendlichen in der Weimarer Republik von der heute? Welche Erwartungen wurden an Mädchen und Jungen gerichtet? Und wie beschrieben junge Menschen ihr Leben in der Zeit? Diese und viele weitere Fragen werden im Rahmen des Rundgangs behandelt.
(Geschichte, Politik)


  • Participants: 30 SchülerInnen
  • Duration: 90 Minuten
  • Costs: 30 Euro bis 15 SchülerInnen, 60 Euro bis 30 SchülerInnen
  • Meeting point: House 1 - Historic Orphanage