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Information bulletin
(June 1951)

Anthon, Margaret Day
House of neighbors,   pp. [20]-23 PDF (2.7 MB)


Page [21]


youthful members of the Neukoelln house played a major
part in bringing about its inception. A Youth Council works
in conjunction with Adult Council and the two play an
active role in the self-governing procedure used in the
center. The contrast in ages that profit from and work for
the project are shown in these photos of children (right),
leaving after games and elderly members (below) dining.
vited to speak, or one of the group read aloud to the
rest, and always there were games or folk dancing or
singing to leaven the earnestness.
Fun was a rare luxury in those days, and one seldom
heard laughter in the streets of Berlin. The serious-faced
young German students would break off an evening of
work and sober discussion to play even simple games
with the abandon and glee of children.
The first group of elderly neighbors - four little old
ladies -came in one evening to ask if this was where
they could get a cup of coffee from the Americans.
When they learned that there was no coffee, but that
the mayor of Neukoelln was to speak that evening, they
reluctantly stayed and listened with interest to his
history of how Neukoelln had grown from the village of
Rixclorf to become one of the largest boroughs of Berlin,
with a population of nearly 200,000 - as great as the
city of Hanover.
The four women returned on other evenings to watch
the groups at work and help where they could. They
enjoyed being around young people, and the group liked
them so well that they staged a special Christmas party
for elderly people in the neighborhood.
G-RADUALLY, SLOWLY, THE CENTER began to take
G   the shape which had been projected by the board
of directors. This board, consisting of 11 German men
and women from various walks of life, chosen for their
inletest in neighborhood work, came together first in
August 1947. They helped and advised the German
YWCA staff, and the representative sent by the YWCA
of the United States, on all plans and drafted a state-
menl of purpose and constitution for the new neighbor-
hood house.
The first plans for the center had been laid in 1946,
when the German YWCA had asked the YWCA of the
United States to assist in rebuilding the work in Ger-
many which since 1933 had been carried on within and
in Spite of the strict limitations imposed by the Nazis.
As one of three projects of assistance, it was decided
to set up a demonstration service center in Berlin to
experiment with new methods of group and community
woik A grant from Church World Service to the YWCA
financed the start of the project. It was not to be a
transplanted American pattern, but was to be adapted
to the peculiar sociological conditions and the needs of
the community and developed along modest lines that
could be continued by the German YWCA as soon as
financial support from abroad was no longer possible.
Neukoelln was chosen as the most likely borough in
the US Sector of Berlin because it had the greatest density
of population, the highest proportion of youth, and more
than its share of delinquency, crime and broken homes.
JUNE 1951


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