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Kurt Löwenstein (born 18 May 1885 in Bleckede; died 8 May 1939 in Paris) was a German USPD/SPD politician, Socialist reform pedagogue and one of the founders of Socialist Youth of Germany - Falcons.

Contents

Family and education

Kurt Löwenstein's father, Bernhard Löwenstein, had a clothing shop, which brought the family a modest income. His mother Jeanette, born Blumenthal, died of cancer in 1892. In 1895 Kurt Löwenstein went to Jewish private school in Hannover. In 1899 he went to High School. He earned the tuition fee for the High School by delivering newspapers and holding after-classes where he helped school classmates with homework.

Between 1904 and 1907 Löwenstein studied Theology and Philosophy in Halberstadt and he was accepted into the orthodox Rabbi school in Berlin. At the same time he also attended Philosophical and Pedagogical courses at the Friedrich-Wilhelm University. In 1908 he was offered the position of the Rabbi in Hannover but refused it because of religious doubts.

On 29th of April 1911 he married Mara Kerwel (1891-19629), a chemist. When they got married, they signed a following marriage contract [1] which is a proof of their progressive thinking and acting concerning gender equality:

§1 On the 1st April 1911 both of the contracties, out of free choice and based on love, agree to found the marriage upon equal rights and responsibilities.

§2 As long as the marriage will last, both contracties and their offspring will use the common name Kerlöw which derives from the marriage.

§3 To legalise the use of this name, state permission should be pursued. If this permission is not given, the conctracties promise to use the name in all non administrative areas of life.

§4 To be lawfully wedded both of the contracties will also subject to the state marital contract. However by a word of honour they declare that the responsibilities and rights, described in the state marital contract will not apply as they find them redundant.

In 1910 he finished his PhD thesis, J. M. Guyaus pedagogic concepts.

Politics

As a pacifist Kurt Löwenstein applied to join the Red Cross in 1914 in Grodno (Belarus) where he took care of injured soldiers until 1918. In the meantime he joined Soldatenraten, German Socialist soldier councils, and identified himself as a Socialist. He joined the Independent Social Democrat Party of Germany (Unabhängigen Sozialdemokratischen Partei Deutschlands - USPD) and became active especially in forming the positions on education and educational politics of the party.

In June 1920 he was elected as a member of the National Parliament until 1923 as a member of the USPD and from 1923 to 1933 as a Member of the SPD. In September 1920 he was elected an Educational Counsellor of Berlin by Election Committee of the City Council. The Brunderburger president denied him of this position in 1920.

From 1921 Kurt Löwenstein was responsible for education in the City Council of Berlin – Neukölln. In this time he organised progressive school tuition fees, providing more school meals for children. He organised special preparation classes for graduation for working class children. Together with Fritz Karsen they founded Karl-Marx School - the first non-religious school in Berlin. From 1922 to 1934 Kurt Löwenstein was Vice-president and one of the co-founders of the Socialist Educational International (now part of the IFM-SEI).[2]

From 1922 to 1934 he was the president of the International Falken Movement. From 1924 to 1933 he was the president of German Children's friend movement (ReichsArbeitsGemeinschaft der Kinderfreunde). In 1933, when the organisation was forbidden, it united 130,000 children, 10,000 guides and 60,000 parents.

Quotes

„Our will for peace is the will to organise humanity internationally.“

„The point is not to fill the masses of proletariat, that came to us lately, with marxist spirit and to give them socialist schooling. But that we, through our political educational work, can overcome the bourgeois ideology that lives in all of us, and find new ways of education.“

“Not only for life, but also as life we learn.“

„All social reform, as far as it has been implemented, is basically nothing more than an indirect and improved kind of exploitation.“

„The civil society with it‘s institutions is making our children submissive, passive and egocentric.“

„Imagine for yourself the following experience: 2000 children carrying packs and sacks, arrive in the afternoon with a closed train at the camping place. The camping place is a big green area and at the entrance there are piles of tents, and sticks wrapped up in string. The backpacks are put down and an immense living and being begins. Thousands of hands and feet move. There is draging, banging, pulling and pushing and one after the other, tents arise in previously agreed places. In the middle of the camping place there is a higher spot where a pole is placed. At six in the evening the alarm signals are heard in the whole area. Children sing and make music as the Flag is raised to the top of the pole. And the Children's Republic stands strong! Don‘t you believe that children, who with their own workpower built a whole city of tents, have an understanding of productive work for the community? For children who have experienced this once, the sentence: ‚We are the builders of the new world‘ (Wir sind das Bauvolk der kommende Welt) has a clear and alive meaning. Will and act have become one.“

„It is possible to disagree with a lot of what I wanted, but impossible to say that my will was not good.“

Literature

  • Heinrich Eppe: Kurt Löwenstein. Ein Wegbereiter der modernen Erlebnispädagogik? Neubauer, Lüneburg 1991, ISBN 3-88456-081-6.
  • Heinrich Eppe: Erziehung für eine Zukunft, die nicht kam? Zur Bedeutung und Aktualität der politischen Pädagogik Kurt Löwensteins. 3. Auflage. Archiv der Arbeiterjugendbewegung, Oer-Erkenschwick 1993, ISBN 3-926734-04-3.
  • Gerd Radde (Hrsg.): Schulreform – Kontinuitäten und Brüche. Das Versuchsfeld Berlin-Neukölln. Band 1: 1912 bis 1945. Leske + Budrich, Opladen 1993, ISBN 3-8100-1129-0. (Darin: Werner Korthaase: Neuköllner Schulpolitik im Dienste der Arbeiterschaft. Dr. Kurt Löwenstein als Kommunalpolitiker. S. 130–145. Dorothea Kolland: Kurt Löwensteins Konzept kultureller Bildung am Beispiel der Musik. S. 153–160.)
  • Edgar Weiß: Radikaldemokratisch engagiert und brutal verfolgt, wiederholt verdrängt und bemerkenswert aktuell – der sozialistische Pädagoge Kurt Löwenstein. In: Martin Dust (Hrsg.): Pädagogik wider das Vergessen. Festschrift für Wolfgang Keim. Götzelmann, Kiel 2000, ISBN 3-9805016-8-X, S. 469–489.
  • Roland Gröschel (Hrsg.): Auf dem Weg zu einer sozialistischen Erziehung - Beiträge zur Vor- und Frühgeschichte der sozialdemokratischen „Kinderfreunde“ in der Weimarer Republik. Festschrift für Heinrich Eppe. Klartext, Essen 2006, ISBN 3-89861-650-9.

References

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