Published Manuscript

Das Fuehrer-Ideal in der neueren Jugendbewegung (The Leader Ideal in the New Youth Movement)

EA 18/06.

Additional Information
Author Eberhard Arnold
Date April 15, 1918
Document Id 0000000034_16_S
Available Transcriptions English

The Leader Ideal in the New Youth Movement

[Arnold, Eberhard and Emmy papers – P.M.S.]

[Draft Translation by Bruderhof Historical Archive]

EA 18/6

The Leader Ideal in the New Youth Movement

The leadership question has always stood in the forefront of interest among the Wandervogel of the German Youth Movement. The new Youth Movement, as we see it today, owes its origins to the Wandervogel group. The enthusiasts of the Wandervogel in their earliest time, according to all available reports, were people with a strong demand for leadership. In particular it was the student Karl Fischer, who from his small cabin in Steglitz was very determined to lead the growing movement. The principles of his direction were later correctly named monarchic. As long as he had them in his hands, Fischer was able to insist on the personal self-discipline and conquest which were characteristic of himself. In spite of his domineering character, he sought to carry through an inner reconciliation between the often wild freedom of his friends and the preservation of a strict discipline among the young Wandervogel. His favorite song was characteristically: "The Spirit is created from Fire."

Karl Fischer was an "Idealist from head to foot." Hans Blüher in his book "Leader and People of the Youth Movement," expressly describes him as a born leader, but one with such a hazy, dimly conceived ideal that he was not able to describe it in words even to himself. From the reports of contemporaries like those of Ernst Baumann* we cannot understand the spiritual substance of his influence. We see here a nature and youth romanticism whose intrinsic character was intentionally not made clear. We see why Fischer's brilliant and influential enthusiasm changed into unstable depression when he encountered opposition or failure. Karl Fischer wanted to be a leader, but his surly coarseness in the struggles that were forced upon him degenerated into a dictatorship which was inevitably his downfall. The sad end of his development bitterly fulfilled one of the claims which Hans Blüher makes for all leaders that they are all in some way tragic people.

In other respects, Karl Fischer who, along with Gustav Wyneken is frequently referred to as an example of the model leader, in no way fulfills the demands for the character of a leader which Blüher and others in the Youth Movement made. Gustav Wyneken's significance and his leadership will be assessed in a later number of the Furche. Anyone who has noticed Wyneken's all too personal methods of disputing [with others] must be surprised that Hans Blüher can write about him, "There is only one man who masters in a creative way all the dubious questions of young people and in addition is born to be a leader; that man is Gustav Wyneken." Blüher refers to him as to a leader who is accustomed to be strict and to domineer, but on the other hand has the quality "of seeing things with the eyes of the gods."

*(Free German Youth, 1917. Pamphlet #12) (Freideutsche Jugend, Jahrgang 1917, Heft 12)

The objective observer cannot perceive this quality in the publication of the inner struggles and arguments of the Wickersdorf people, however strong and deep their young people's creative thoughts of self-esteem were, and whatever standard of life the community school had. H. E. Schomburg in his little book, The Wandervogel, his friends and his Opponents* has sharply rejected Hans Blüher for the Wandervogel, because of his concept of homosexual life derived from Freud's research principles. He also declared that Wyneken's attempt to influence the Wandervogel seemed to him to be like wooing a bride who does not want to listen and will never listen.

Schomburg certainly feels deeply moved by the great faith which Wyneken had for his own mission; but he is convinced that this faith must be shattered. Although as pastor he is exposed to many attacks, Schomburg speaks nevertheless in the name of a great part of the Wandervogel Movement. And Wyneken himself is of the opinion that Wandervogel and the free community school represent the two poles of the Youth Movement. But also the Freideutsche Jugend (Free German Youth), a monthly magazine published on behalf of the Union of Free German Youth, rejects the leadership of Gustav Wyneken. It is convinced that Wyneken's ice cold power was unable to catch fire in the young people because they missed the warmth born of the sun, which alone is able to enthuse young people. (*Der Wandervogel, Seine Freunde und Seine Gegner). The whole struggle is concerned essentially with the sharp differences between two directions or stages of development in the present day Youth Movement. The one direction, the true Wandervogel and its later offshoots, the Free German Youth, the Freischaren (Free Bands), the academic societies etc., holds fast to the unconscious instinct and independence of the youthful, free way of life. The other direction, more critical, straining for goals and ends is felt by these youthful romanticists to be 'intellectualism' or 'rationalism' against which their joy in 'feelings' in what is natural and instinctive calls for the strongest resistance.

We are not concerned here with the struggle between personalities who should be called to leadership in the Youth Movement. These disputes are only a valuable illustration of the much disputed leader ideal which has found an extraordinarily stimulating significance in the present day Youth Movement.

In his lecture, "What is Youth Culture?"* Gustav Wyneken points out that that alone is leadership "when individuals become sources of new life and influence for the masses." Individuals, who could be such leaders, are according to him "the best and most serious; they are those who are never satisfied, but always forging ahead, the informed, the creative." So it is completely logical when Blüher maintains that the leader of the people needs nothing to become a leader, but that the people become a people through him. The leader cannot be made or elected by the people; he goes among the (*Was ist Jugendkultur? (Munich, Georg E. Steinicke) people and chooses those who follow him. The people's voice cannot be the voice of God, but the man with leadership qualities hears this voice first, for his eyes are open and he knows what the people need. He is a born leader. His leadership is within him. It is his destiny and his life. The center cannot be created by the circumference. The inner life of a leader (the center) is his surplus energy, overflowing in superabundance of greatness and beauty. The inner tension between the Eros and the Logos is the origin of this surplus strength. In opposition to Hans Blüher, the best known and oldest Jungwandervogel, Willy Jahn, Otto Pieper, and the pseudonym Hans Falk have had to intercede for the heart. They regard feelings as an essential attribute of a leader. We know that the present day Youth Movement finds this emotional life best of all in spontaneous romanticism, religion, and love; whereas Blüher subjects all these feelings to a critical scrutiny and analysis.

In the Free German Youth the opposition to all intellectualism and to any kind of goal has led to placing an ever increasing value on an intuitive grasp of things. One has to recognize that Fries's religious philosophy is the best expression and the firmest foundation for the Free German Youth.

Again and again the young people and the task of the leader have to draw strength and inspiration from the depths of the soul. It is for this reason that Friedrich Schlünz says in the Free German Youth: "The leader must see the unconscious yearning of his people and expose it to the light of clear recognition. His divine spark must kindle the glow of deep enthusiasm." But when Schlünz says this in opposition to Blüher and Wyneken, Blüher points out that to obtain strength and the salt of life from the soul, the people need leaders to guide them to this.

It was Wyneken who has expressed present day young people's consciousness of their own value and legitimate individuality. They are all one in this: the gift of the real leader is seen when every member of his circle of influence allows his own essential character to be discovered and awakened by it.

For us who know the Christian Youth Movement it is significant in all of these points that a leader ideal is set up which sees the call to leadership alone in the inner vocation of the leader and not in a democratic election by the masses or through some kind of electoral process. Young people of today refer to the word of Nietzsche's as an expression of their longing: Where is a sea in which one can really drown? Namely a man! This cry rings through our time." Wyneken indicates this as the highest that the masses, as such, can reach; they feel again the need for leaders and can sense where there is genuine leadership for them. In another place he (Wyneken) recognizes it as the emotional experience of that yearning and as the essence of piety "to surrender himself to a higher, purer and unknown one out of spontaneous thankfulness." And in fact it is of the greatest significance for our time that the longing for a leader, in common with the innermost religious longing, has been awakened.

This call for the right leader was due to the frequent desperation and disappointments in the fathers and educators, which must have tormented such willing, trusting young people. This is an important observation that can hardly be contradicted. It is just out of this disappointment that the young people seek a leader who, more than a comrade, should be a firmly commanding King and Lord.

The strength of a Christian Youth and Student Movement must prove itself, also today, in that through word and deed the One who is the life giving Leader and Lord is testified to. He is the Word, the Spirit, and Love. It is of very great interest to compare what is behind the yearning for the present day model leader with the figure who had to say of himself: "One is your Leader." "He who does not leave everything and follow me is not worthy of me."

Decisive for those around him [his followers] is the charismatic awakening of individual personalities and their tasks, "in the protestant concept at its best of the emotional spiritual relationship united in the church in which the individual is independent and free." * (Ahlborn, in the Free German Youth.)