Dallett, F. J., Jr.
American friends in Germany, pp. -25 PDF (1.9 MB)
American Friends in Germany By F. J. DALLETT, JR. HICOG Duty Officer La VItMJLTANEOUSLY WITH TILE SOUND of five lan- L rjidges echoing through the little town of Donau- eiingen in the Black Forest were heard the hum of a sewing machines in a refugee camp in Oldenburg, tii shouts of small boys in leather shorts raking gravel in l .ankfurt, the singing of students in a conference ioom in Freiburg and voices of earnest discussion out- silri a Berlin neighborhood center. 'I'Desc cheerful sounds of renewed hope for the future in11'!ed the beginning of the American Friends Service ( wrainittee's (AFSC) sixth year of work in aiding the -o !!l)ilitation of Germany. AFSC has made its unique (.o i ibution through a seven-point program which caters to sacihi and psychological needs in the postwar world, plol inq it high among social welfare programs of foreign MJ cries in western Europe. \ 'lirteer workers sent out from Philadelphia, where thfr )riaker organization has its headquarters, were on tIih ibo in the British Zone in the spring of 1946 and a y-ae liter were active in the French and US Zones, forv ring relief teams for the distribution of food and rlr(;iriiq to the most needy in Germany. The old hunting lo(l(ii of the princes of Hesse atKranichstein, nearDarm- sci(II, administrative center for AFSC activities in Ger- nin.:s, has rapidly become an international crossroad and its (li, antler-hung halls a focal point for program con- l(-( lies in which German co-workers join. c';ief work and community activity in urban areas, ovh ' the aftermath of war had created special prob- Ii were focused in the neighborhood centers establish- erl I y in 1947. The old maxim of "Help those who help tii 'Ives" prevailed, the brunt of the building and oin; liation of the centers being borne by the local il a')itants under the guidance of AFSC representatives. C(, ris atCologne,Wuppertal, Brunswick, Ludwigshafen, FLi irt, Darmstadt and Berlin were set up to provide kr(Wig rartens for children of working mothers, sewing 5ci('s, shoe shops, lending libraries and to create s ail and recreational interests to bring all age groups i0 I IIc center. W I IILE SUCH EARLY relief measures as food distri- bution and child-feeding on the premises have now (> ri way to activities for social reconstruction, the ccli' rIs still distribute gifts from America to the needy inc( *ii ended by their social welfare committees. Typical is ' (ommittee in the Frankfurt center, a nucleus formed by vliren from the Catholic, Evangelical and civic wel- tal( Jtoops in the city, which is unique in German social liisl ),v since welfare groups have traditionally not been Cori. iative. I i;'ever, it is in the amazingly versatile activities Pir (l. oni, which combines education and recreation, that the centers achieve their corporate success. Groups meet weekly for English discussion and English courses, in- struction in handicrafts, folk dancing, chess, gardening and for table tennis and other sports for teen agers, and story hours and films for younger children. The Saturday 'work camps" at the centers or in nearby refugee homes, are participated in by all age groups. The great amount of activity which stems from the neighborhood centers has awakened a strong sense of community responsibility in areas where they are located. AFSC has consistently been able to withdraw financial support as centers gradually grow toward independence and to decrease international personnel as German co- workers assume greater responsibility. Nearly all the activities are now led and directed by volunteers, and the strong association of interest promises a long future of civic usefulness after AFSC direction is ended. G ERMAN SOCIAL PROBLEMS are considered in the GService Committee program through practical parti- cipation as well as in international seminars which bring together people of different backgrounds in an atmos- phere free from academic pedantry. By pooling ideas, seminar participants try to arrive at a basis for under- Twenty-nine young persons from seven countries labor alongside ethnic German refugees from Yugoslavia and Romania at American Friends Service Committee work camp in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, to build new homes in that area for its niany refugees. (AFSC phoitos) JAi' l \5eY 1952
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