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Hans Blüher

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Died  4 February 1955, Berlin, Germany

Hans Blüher (17 February 1888 in Freiburg in Schlesien - 4 February 1955 in Berlin) was a German writer and philosopher. He attained prominence as an early member and "first historian" of the Wandervogel movement. He was aided by his taboo breaking rebellion against schools and the Church. Partly received with genuine interest, but sometimes perceived as scandalous, his comments on the homosexual aspects of the Wandervogel movement and the role homoeroticism and male bonding played in the creation of European culture and institutions were fiercely combated. Blüher supported these with a theory of the Männerbund.

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During the transition from the German Empire to the Weimar liberal-democracy, Blüher, a radical conservative and monarchist, became a staunch opponent of the Weimar Republic. In 1928 he had the opportunity to meet the former Kaiser Wilhelm II in exile in Holland. Blüher believed that pederasty and male bonding provided a basis for a stronger nation and state, which became a popular concept within certain segments of the Hitler Youth. Blüher later supported the Nazis but turned from National Socialism in 1934 when SA leader Ernst Röhm was murdered on Hitler's orders in the Night of the Long Knives.

Since 1924, Blüher, who had married a doctor and had two children, worked as a freelance writer and practicing psychologist in Berlin-Hermsdorf. He worked there after his retirement from public life during the Nazi period on his major philosophical work of 1949, Die Achse der Natur.

Student at Gymnasium Steglitz

In 1896 Blüher's father, the pharmacist Hermann Blüher, his wife Helene and their eight-year-old son Hans, left Freiburg and took up residence first in Halle and then, in 1898, in Steglitz where the ten-year-old Hans was sent to the local Gymnasium. In his 1912 account Blüher wrote:

"The intellectual pleasures are the purest and the most perfect. They persist throughout life undiminished and constantly trigger new feelings of happiness. One should expect that an institution such as a school, which deals only with intellectual subjects, and at the youngest age of life, would almost have to generate a rapture of discovery and understanding: - And it produces just the oppposite! The student works not only with occasional overexertion and difficulty, which is naturally unavoidable in even the most liberal of intellectual endeavors, but with an immense feeling of displeasure. And this is expected at an age which, on account of its tenderness and need for joy, is least of all appropriate. On these young shoulders, in fact, lies a burden which the man only thinks back on in horror and yet it is perpetually alive in his dreams. [...]

The "science" learned in schools and the whole conception of culture which is represented there is indeed not free at all but entirely imposed. It is in service to all kinds of ideals and possible prejudices; patriotism and religion necessitate, in order to find solid ground in the student's heart, a quite considerable staining and falsification of reality. [...] Whence shall the intellectual joy come if the instrument is out of tune with the student who could well play upon it...?" Later Blüher's criticism was, in part, much milder and more grateful. School director, Robert Lück, who Blüher had described as one of the somewhat narrow-minded Christian educators, underwent a revaluation in Blüher's second version of his autobiographical work "Werke und Tage." Blüher praised Lück's life work and described his selection of faculty as masterful: "How he actually managed it remains a mystery to everyone. He had an obvious charisma. The college nearly resembled an order." In his autobiography, Blüher set his former school among the ranks of those gymnasiums to which he accorded a prominent role in German cultural life. Nowhere else in Germany was the soil for the dispute between humanistic education and the romantic counter-culture so fruitful; the Wandervogel and the youth movement could only have occurred here.

Wandervogel Movement

Hans Blüher was admitted to the Wandervogel in 1902 as a 33rd degree member. His initiation was a ceremonial procedure wherein Karl Fischer deterred "foxes" for each of the newcomers. After instruction of the goals and premises of the Wandervogel movement, the aspirant swore loyalty to Fischer and to obey when necessary. He promised this in the presence of at least two other witnesses who attested to the oath then Fischer wrote his name into the members' book.

Hans Blüher understood this community as a protest movement against the "weathered ideals" of the "old generation" which one should vigorously resist with his own views and experiences. Blüher had a strictly dismissive attitude of the pedagogical tendencies and leisurely hiking of the group. For example, provisions that set early rest stops out of consideration for the younger participants were to him proof of "an insufficient understanding of the great experience of horror that the forest and the night also produced in the minds of the older members." There is a weak disregard for the young personality in "breaking the power of such precious hours." Blüher even thought little of recommendations to call off hikes due to persistent rain so as to not negatively affect the clothes and mood of the hikers: "That is exactly what is recommended for the faint of heart who from the very outset admit that they do not have the ability to drown out the inclement weather with the exuberance of their youthfulness. Those who know the old Wandervogel bacchanalia and are no degenerates, also know the unforgettable glory of such rainy weather marches."

Even in his 60s, Blüher spoke praisingly of those regions of Mark Brandenburg in which the Steglitzer Wandervogel found their weekend adventures in nature. This comparatively inconspicuous landscape wanted to be discovered "with the full fervor and suppleness of our hearts: this landscape had to be conquered, its divine word had come to us, otherwise us youth would have perished in the foul breath of the culture of our fathers. [...]The Nuthethal, upon which the first fire of our youth movement blazed, had imbued us with the historical force that had been in it for centuries and we partook of it. We came down from its hills and were a state."

These unusual formations of young people created a peculiar contrast to the rest of the citizenry of Steglitz when they returned home after an extensive hike:

“Now everything had come to life in Steglitz. The tidy boys of the well-nourished citizens walked along Albrecht Street in new suits, little girls following behind. The Fichteberg aristocracy and the half-nobility had the Church behind them and they paraded home with glazed, God-fearing eyes. When their sons wore their colorful school caps they always only took hold of the visor with two fingers, because the other three had to hold their dapper pair of gloves. They saluted and gave honors. - And among these wild, merry figures, there was this colorful hodgepodge of students! They walked with their bulky boots on the delicate plaster; one of them stayed behind because Wolf had thrown him down the sandy hillside of Havelberg and his pants were split. [...] "That crazy Fischer!" they simply said and moved on.

Hans Blüher, whose strikingly gaunt appearance earned him the nickname "Ghost," developed into one of Fischer's most loyal supporters but he also had Fischer's crucial support during his time with the Wandervogel movement.

During a summer trip to the Rhine in 1903, Blüher was sent home by expedition leader Siegfried Copalle for lacking identification, which did not meet with Fischer's approval. As a result, he defended him.

Another exceedingly lasting impression on Hans Blüher was made by the wealthy landowner Wilhelm "Willie" Jansen who met Blüher, himself an expedition leader now, on a 1905 summer trip from the Rhön to Lake Constance where Blüher won him for the Wandervogel movement.

"Jansen fascinated the youth by his personality, in no time he had opened the West German schools for the Wandervogel and the young men clung to him like burs. Of course, it was no different with Fischer: hero love. But this was in an undoubtedly intensified form [...] You can believe it or not, but I have read it in numerous letters and heard it from many young people themselves; it was true eroticism that erupted here.”

References

Hans Blüher Wikipedia


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