Banning of Clubs

In Germany, the gymnastic movement had been founded by Prussian teacher and German patriot Friedrich Ludwig Jahn. After watching the defeat of the Prussian Army at Jena and Auerstädt in 1806, he trained students in gymnastics; a number of them joined Lützow's volunteers in the Wars of Liberation (1813-1815). The gymnastic movement spread in Germany. Many, in the gymnastic movement, supported the goasl of German unification.
In the early years of the 19th century, explicitly political organizations were rare, on the European continent, that is. There were societies devoted to music (choires etc.); yet these often also supported the concept of national unification. Many German songs of the early 19th century are implicitly or explicitly political. The Burschenschaften (students' fraternities) were most openly nationalist. In 1817 they staged the WARTBURG FESTIVAL, where the goal of national unification was proclaimed.
In 1819, German student Karl Sand, member of the Jena Burschenschaft, assassinated Russian diplomat August von Kotzebue, an act which triggered the CARLSBAD RESOLUTIONS. One of the resolutions concerned the banning of clubs and societies; the state assumed the right to screen and ban them. Friedrich Ludwig Jahn was incarcerated, the practice of gymnastics in public was banned within Prussia. Only in 1842 the ban was lifted, and gymnastics was uncluded in school curricula. The vast majority of clubs and organizations was banned.
State bans, state repression continued throughout most of the 1820es, 1830es and 1840es, in Prussia, Austria, Russia, in the states of the German Federation, in the states of Italy. By contrast, Britain, the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands, since 1830 France and Belgium, Switzerland, Savoy-Piemont were more liberal, concerning clubs and societies. Where it was enforced, the ban on clubs was very unpopular and widely criticized. In the time of strict screening, tolerated societies included those with a scientific or artistic agenda. Among these, oddly, were Marksmen's Guilds, in many villages of countryside Germany still the oldest club, with a central function in the social life. At meetings of legimimate clubs and societies, policemen were to be present and later file a report.
The enforcement of state repression temporarily failed, and in 1832 German patriotic students staged the HAMBACH FESTIVAL, on the occasion of which the present German flag was hoisted for the first time. Hambach is located in the Pfalz (Palatine) which at that time belonged to Bavaria. State control was reestablished, the ban on clubs reinforced. In the 1840es, the political climate changed, and state repression was deescalated (VORMÄRTS). Among the main demands of the revolutionaries of 1848 was the right to freely form clubs (Vereinsrecht).

The German Art of Gymnastics (early 19th century), from Gymmedia
Biography of F.L. Jahn, from AR, in German
Hambacher Fest, from Hambacher Schloss, in German
DOCUMENTS Carlsbad Resolutions, from Hanover Historical Texts Project

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on October 2nd 2003, last revised on November 16th 2004

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