One activity that gained popularity in the DP camps was scouting. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Girl Guides, Sea Scouts, Relief Scouts, and several national and religious variations. The scouting troops and the entire scouting structure were revived immediately after the liberation of Germany due to the activism of a relatively large number of prewar leaders, who frequently worked also as teachers.

Scouting girls

Scouting provided DP children and youth with activities that developed camaraderie and friendship, such as sports, field trips, summer camps, and scout jamborees. There were some 25,000 scouts in the U.S. Zone of Germany by the spring of 1946.

The Polish Scouts published their own journal, cared for Polish graves on German soil, visited Polish patients in hospitals and inmates in prisons, helped to care for the DP camps, and arranged classes in various practical skills. They helped to organize religious, national and scouting celebrations. The entire camp of Heilbronn participated in the blessing of the scout community center and the opening of a kiosk with books and newspapers in care of the scouts. Artistic programs included dancing, and recitation, as well as a theater performance and a gymnastic show.

The Ukrainian Scouts were fond of camping and participated in Ukrainian plays and choir concerts, they worked in vegetable gardens, flower gardens, schools and barracks. They organized hospital visits to take comforts and reading material to the patients. During the summer camp on Lake Fuschl, they helped with the harvest and with many jobs in the village.

Part of the drive behind scouting and school movements originated in the DPs' fears of other, alien, influences on their children in the chaos of post war Europe. Evil examples were concentrated in the narrow territory of the camps. Often times children would re-enact quarrels, and physical violence that they had witnessed among the adults. One DP mother asked, "Is it right for growing children to see such things?" With the intervention of schools, scouting and adult concern the displaced children of Europe emerged from the physical and spiritual ruins of the Continent to make their way with new strength into the postwar world.


Sources: DPs Europe's Displaced Persons, 1945-1951 by Mark Wyman
Polish Schools in DP Camps in Germany1945-1951 by A. D. Jaroszynska_Kirchmann



<< previous page / vorherige Seite next page / nächste Seite >>


top of page/
nach oben