Youth in Classical Modernity.
Being young at the Francke Foundations 1890–1933
Based on the exhibition »Moderne Jugend? Jungsein in den Franckeschen Stiftungen 1890–1933« curated by the Research Centre, the topic of youth in the German Empire and in the Weimar Republic will be further examined in various aspects. One focus is on the history of the Francke Foundations as a school town: on being young in the foundation schools and boarding schools during this period.
Youth is a time of new beginnings, risk-taking and pushing forward, but also a time of great questions and uncertainties. Especially in the years of Classical Modernism, hope and disappointment seem to lie close together, opposing tendencies have a direct effect on young people. Using the example of being young in the Francke Foundations, a number of questions defining this phase of life are explored: Are school and educational prospects rather understood as success stories or do they leave a feeling of crisis or failure? How is the development of physicality reflected in sport and sexuality between individuality and normativity, how do militarisation and the experience of war affect adolescents? Do radio, literature and film serve more as a means of information, indoctrination or as a modern means of expression in their own right?
Contemporary artworks of New Objectivity and Realism provided an insight into this special period of life in the exhibition, while documents from the archives of the Francke Foundations gave the young people themselves a chance to speak. By looking at youth, the aim was to make modernity tangible as a time of ambivalent experiences. The exhibition was on display from 23 September 2019 to 22 March 2020 on the exhibition floor of the Historical Orphanage in the Francke Foundations.
Catalogue: Moderne Jugend? Jungsein in den Franckeschen Stiftungen 1890–1933. Hrsg. von Holger Zaunstöck und Claudia Weiß unter Mitarbeit von Tom Gärtig und Claus Veltmann. Halle 2019 (Kataloge der Franckeschen Stiftungen, 36).
The 21st Halle City History Day on 13 November 2021, organised by the Verein für hallische Stadtgeschichte e.V., was dedicated to the theme »Kein Abseits! Geschichte und Kultur des Sports in Halle«. Deepening his contribution to the 2019 annual exhibition, Tom Gärtig discussed in this context under the heading »›ein erziehliches Mittel ersten Ranges‹. Turnen, Spiel und Sport in den Franckeschen Stiftungen 1890–1933« the ambivalent role of sport in the foundation schools and sports clubs at the time.
In addition to gymnastics, croquet, tennis and cricket, football, imported from England, also inspired the male youth of the Foundations. However, the opportunities for girls to take part in sports increased only slowly from the end of the 19th century. In accordance with the demands of Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859-1941), sport was primarily intended to train young men physically and thus make them fit for military service. In addition, it was also to be a means of reducing physical tension in order to prevent sexual acts by young people.
The essay »Diskussionen über ›Schmutz und Schund‹ in der Kinder- und Jugendliteratur im Deutschen Kaiserreich« (kjl&m 4/2021) by Claudia Weiß examines the struggle of different groups for literature suitable for adolescents using the example of schools and the publishing house of the Francke Foundations. At that time, new literary formats such as booklet series with entertaining crime, adventure and love stories emerged, which particularly enthused children and adolescents. Simultaneously with such changes in the literary field, but also with the emergence of the new medium of film, a discussion developed, partly in public, partly in private, about the ›correct‹ use of media by adolescents. The historical term »fight against trash and filth« was used to describe this debate, which involved various groups, some of which were opposed to each other, especially from the fields of education, upbringing and politics.
The publishing house of the bookshop of the Orphanage in Halle published numerous writings on the subject of »trash and filth«. These prints, which have been preserved in the library of the Francke Foundations, provide insights into the controversial discussion about ›good‹ children's and young people's literature and refer to concrete local effects such as exhibitions about so-called trash literature, which Halle pupils and teachers had to attend.