Richard Schirrmann

Richard Schirrmann ( born May 15, 1874 in Grunenfeld, Heiligenbeil County, East Prussia, now part of the Polish Gmina Braniewo, powiat Braniewski, Warmian -Masurian, † December 14, 1961 in Gravenwiesbach, Taunus ) was the founder of the German Youth Hostel Association.


Richard Schirrmann was born the son of a teacher. In 1895 he passed his state exam and became a teacher himself. He first taught at an elementary school in Gelsenkirchen. Because of the poor living environment of the students in this industrial city, he often took walks with his students. This led to problems with the school inspectorate. He was accused of neglecting the regular classroom in favor of hiking days. Therefore, he was transferred in 1903 to Altena in the Sauerland region, where he was a member of the Sauerland mountain club.

Youth Hostel initiative

1907 taught Schirrmann the first youth hostel in the world - on a trial basis - in the old school in Nice Nice Street in Altena one. In a multi-day hike with his students in the group spontaneously Behelfsquartier in the village school in Bröl ( Hennef ) had set up during a storm, for lack of alternatives, Schirrmann developed on 26 August 1909, the idea of a nationwide network of such hostels.

In 1910 he wrote an article for the Cologne newspaper, in which he explained his goals. Soon after, he learned manifold support, inter alia in the form of donations.

1912 drew the first youth hostel then into the castle of Altena. To maintain a continuing operation Schirrmann also became the first warden there.

After the founding of the Reich Youth Hostel Association in 1919 he settled in 1922 on leave from the school system in order to fully concentrate on his task. 1933-1936 he was Chairman of the International Youth Hostel Association (HI). In 1948, he set about rebuilding the Youth Hostel Association in Germany as well as at international level.

Schirrmann succeeded to integrate the cities and communities in the development and financing of his planned Hostels and thus ensure continuity of the organization. Generations of students and teachers join the adventure school trip with a stay in a hostel.

Awards / Honors

His work was honored in 1952 with the award of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. In addition, he was named an honorary citizen of the city of Altena.

The Sauerland Mountain Club named one of his main trails Richard Schirrmann pathway. In 1971 ( 22nd District ) was named the Schirrmanngasse and in 2008 in Stuttgart, a squadron Richard Schirrmann - season for him in Vienna Danube city. The naming of the season in Stuttgart, however, was reversed because of the role of Richard Schirrmann in the Third Reich in 2010. The season between Kerner and shooting street was renamed Paul- Lobe - season. Other road (eg in Titisee -Neustadt, Mainz, Montabaur, casting, Lünen Landshut, Wetzlar, Munster, Bishop home ) and schools (eg in Hennef, Siegburg, Berlin, Altena, Hoisten, food ) were also to his honor named after him.