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Österreichisches Jugendportal - Österreichische Jugendinfos


If you start into seventh decade of life, you have much to report. The Austrian Youth Hostel Federation was born in May 1946 - we`ve had a lot of turbulent times.

What you know as backpacking was called in 1884 as youth hiking. In the summer of that year the first student- and scholar hostel have opened in Hohenelbe in the mountains. This accommodation solution spread rapidly, especially in Austria, the former Sudetenland and southern Germany. But it was not purpose of the today Hostelling International idea: They accepted only high school scholars and students (both esclusively male) agaed 16 years minimum.

This handle wasn't changed until 1909. In this year the teacher Richard Schirrmann decided to create hostels at all important places for hikers after a stormy night, in which he haven`t found any place to sleep. They were open to all young hikers - regardless of their education, religion and origin.

There has been traditional hiking movements since the 11th century, but they were not revolutionary until the 20th century. The youth worker movement, which had also female members, followed a new creation of life and freedom for young people. Freedom was less understood by those laws and norms, but rather the opportunity to check everything by themself and to make them dependent to approve or to reject it. It was freedom from external pressures and forces - developed from theirself. The class consciousness played a great role for them.

The reactions of adults to this revolutionary departure were divided. On the one hand they praised their goals, on the other hand they were shocked about technology mocking and noisy hiking crowds. The backpapers and globetrotters don't look much different today, but the class consciousness plays a less important role.

World War II:
In the era of the National Socialism the idea of youth and freemdom was dashed quickly. The hostels of political parties and organizations were united. By following to the German Reich in 1938, they built after the german model in every school of the major cities a hostel. Those hostels were available for the Nazi Youth Organizations in school-free time. Origin and religion of young people played a role again.

Back to the start: 31 may 1946: The founding meeting of the Austrian Youth Hostel Federation, which had 10 youth organizations as members - the meeting was held in the old city hall of Vienna. Karl Prochazka from the Boy Scouts was unanimously elected Chairman of the AYHF. He was spending, like many others from his generation, some years of his life in the Dachau concentration camp. His successor should be later Heinz Kienzl (1976-1980), later director of the National Bank Austria, the trade unionists Erich Hofstätter (1980-1987) and Günther Weninger (1988-2006) and the Vienna City Council President Johann Hatzl (2006-2009). Since 2009 Dr. Peter Kaiser, the governor from Carinthia, has been the chairman of the AYHF.

One year later, in spring 1947, the foundation for the international activity of the AYHF was made: The AYHF was accepted as member of the International Youth Hostel Federation (IYHF) at the youth hostel conference in Blaricum (The Netherlands). The last 20 years saw the expansion and use of internationals contacts. Highlights of this exchange were the IYHF-meeting, which had been held three times in Vienna.

In the year 2003 the IYHF (Hostelling International) signed a memorandum jointly with UNESCO for peace and international understanding. Eleven of the approximately 4.000 youth hostels around the world have been made to peace centers - e.g. one near Ground Zero in New York or Jerusalem - more are beeing planned. The ideas of UNESCO and the IYHF will be disseminated with youth exchange programs - the AYHF tries to support this idea day by day.

The hiking movement has become a peace movement.