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"150 Logo" Background Text

When we thought of a “logo” for the 150th Anniversary Year of our Association, the old, handwritten minutes came to mind. A few lines from past decades could well serve as a background to the design around the number 150.


"150 Logo" Background Text (6)

This appears on our Programme for December 2010 - January 2011.

We are taken back to December 1945. Already two years earlier the committee had discussed plans for future meetings. At the time the Association was homeless and the small committee met under war conditions as often as possible at Mr Henne’s rooms above his butcher shop in Tower Bridge Road or at his private house in Inglemere Road, Forest Hill. The Association’s first General Meeting since the beginning of the Second World War was held on 9 December 1945 at St George’s German Lutheran Church in Little Alie Street. There were twelve members and friends present. Four members, including the Benner brothers had not yet returned from service in HM Forces.

The logo background text for the present months reports from this historic event:

"The suggestion was made at this meeting that regular meetings should be held for the time being once a month, on the 2nd Sunday of every month. This met with general approval; the next gathering was fixed for Sunday 13. January ’46.

The meeting will take the form of a Bible class, with a general discussion. Pfr Dr Rieger will conduct the next meeting. After Mr. Maler had given a synopsis of the past 6 years and several members had spoken, Pfr Dr Rieger gave a short talk stressing the importance of future work of the Y.M.C.A. and reminded us of the various opportunities and duties we should have in the coming year. A note of thanks on behalf of all our friends present to the Sisters, ladies who assisted with the tea and to Pfr Dr Rieger and his Church committee for allowing us to use the Hall was offered by the Chairman."

This entry in the minute book tells us that the first monthly Sunday meeting, for long now known as Vereinsnachmittag, was held 65 years ago, in January 1946. It also shows how well the German YMCA and the German Churches worked together. The Vereinsnachmittage as well as Board meetings were continued at St George’s Church until the spring of 1949, when the Association was able to open its own new home again in Hampstead.

Bernd Hildebrandt



"150 Logo" Background Text (5)

This appears on our Programme for October - November 2010.

When, in 1949, the German YMCA in London could establish a new Centre and Hostel at Lyndale Hall, 368 Finchley Road, Hampstead, this became initially a meeting place for ex-POWs who wanted to remain in England. Official visitors from Germany too had a vested interest in the activities of the German Association in London and on many occasions gladly accepted its hospitality. But there were also German women and girls in London, who had come to England for work as domestic staff. This fact was not ignored and therefore discussed by the Association’s Board of Management in February 1951. What emerged from this meeting provides the background text shown as part of the Anniversary Logo for the present months:

"A resolution was passed that the Rules and Regulations of the Association should not be altered now, but that our membership application form should include a clause as drafted by the Secretary showing clearly the aims of our Association and also state that men and women could join our Association as ordinary members. This was, pointed out by the Secretary, a temporary measure, in view of the large number of German women working in this country and who wished to take part in the Association’s social life, such as attending lectures, language classes, outings etc. As there existed no other similar organisation yet in London the Committee agreed that it was part of our work to let German girls enjoy the opportunity of attending meetings etc. and use our club rooms."

Consequently, the first post-war member-ship form carried the following statement:

Der Deutsche CVJM in London will allen jungen Deutschen in England ohne Unterschied des Bekenntnisses und der politischen Richtung auf der Grundlage lebendigen Christentums nach Leib, Seele und Geist dienen und damit ein Helfer zur rechten Lebensgestaltung sein.

By opening its doors, Lyndale Hall provided the opportunity to a variety of services, and the Association became one of the first YMCAs with women and girls in membership. Rapidly changing times turned a “temporary measure” into a lasting commitment. And, although it took years before other Associations in England and Germany conceded that traditional YMCA work had to change, eventually doors opened everywhere. Associations developed, each in its special way, inclusive programmes and services for the benefit of whole communities.

Bernd Hildebrandt



"150 Logo" Background Text (4)

This appears on our Programme for August - September 2010.

As a result of the exceptional circumstances since 1914, and probably for longer than any other Association, the German YMCA in London had hardly any contact with young men. One generation (over 450) had left before the war and the post-war generation of German young men were prevented to come and work in London, due to restrictions never before imposed in Great Britain. The few remaining members were determined to safeguard the Association’s existence. It was not until 1929 that an influx of young men brought new life into the Association. A Special Meeting in September 1929 at “The Hermitage”, the Association’s small home in North London since 1920, dealt with a letter of demands from 13 new members for better meeting rooms, accommodation for young men coming from Germany for vocational training, and a good supper service…:

"With reference to the first point an animated discussion followed. Some of the meeting were of the opinion that Green Lanes was not the suitable place and that steps might be taken to secure further rooms at 123 Gower Street, where we have at present one large room, but afterwards especially by the wish of the chairman and the secretary it was considered better to get further rooms in the Hermitage by putting up a larger hut in the grounds, provided our lease permits us to do so and that therefore our Solicitor should be consulted first. With reference to the second point a reduction of the charges was to be worked out. Point three in the letter, to be able to obtain meals in the home, was not brought up for discussion as under the present and existing arrangements and conditions this proposal cannot be entertained."

The young men were actually pushing at open doors. The Board was already actively engaged in finding more suitable premises and had also engaged a young secretary. Under the circumstances, the adjustment to the expectations of the self-assertive, confident young men with little regard for the Association’s past struggles, was managed with admirable calm by the Association’s leadership. Largely due to the wise counsel of the treasurer, Baron Bruno Schröder, no funds were expended on temporary measures like a costly hut. But by December 1930, the purchase of the lease for Westgate House, 28/29 Bedford Place was agreed. Here, the Association had found a new home and hotel in a central position until another World War forced its closure again.

Bernd Hildebrandt



"150 Logo" Background Text (3)

This appears on our Programme for June - July 2010.

The text for this “Programme” has been taken from Association Minutes, dated 8th November 1916, the bleak time of the First World War, when the home of the Association and the City House Hotel had to be closed and boarded up.

The lines from the Minutes on the Logo are preceded by information received from the Solicitor Mr Pepper to the effect that he was unable to protect the interests of the Association, as City House and the Christian Home for Waiters could be commandeered as enemy alien property. To claim rights in law by referring to the Trust Deeds would be no protection.

The actual lines shown read in translation:

"3. Moving on to the main reason for the meeting, referring to the suggestion of Messrs. Lithgow & Pepper: perhaps to offer City House to the War Ministry instead of taking the chance that the Authorities requisition the house, the chairman imparts that in reply to copies of the Solicitor’s letter sent to the members of the Executive Committee, written replies have been received from Messrs. Müller and Natorp with the following result: Mr. Müller presents the point of view that we should offer the house to the Authorities, but adds that he will not press the point if the Co-Trustees come to a different conclusion."

The deliberations on this difficult issue, including the views submitted by Natorp were summed up by Pastor Scholten, “namely to leave the matter calmly in God’s hands and to do nothing themselves. And should the house be requisitioned, then they could freely face the members and friends, on whose behalf they had the responsibility to look after the house as long as they possibly could”.

It was then left to President Werner to reply to Messrs Lithgow & Pepper: “The Trustees prefer to take no action”.

Consequently, City House was commandeered by the War Office in February 1917. And when it was returned to the Association after the war, there was no German community left in London, to which the house could be of service. The few dedicated members of the German YMCA still in London had a long struggle to protect the Association from disappearing altogether.

Bernd Hildebrandt



"150 Logo" Background Text (2)

This appears on our Programme for April - May 2010.

The background text is taken from German YMCA Executive Council Minutes, dated 10th December 1912, when the Association had its splendid new house in City Road and a Christian Home for Waiters in Charlotte Street. The text, still written in old German, reads as follows in translation:

"The meeting is opened with a reading from Holy Scripture and prayer. The minutes of the last meeting are read and signed. It is resolved that the Christmas collection is used as in the previous year. Part of it shall be used for the benefit of the Christmas Support Fund at the Home for Waiters. For the colonists at the farm, a Tea, as well as New Testaments and Calendars shall be provided, and with Mr. Strohfeldt’s help, presented to old Germans. They are to be invited to a communal Christmas meal in the presence of several members of the Association. Mr. Scholten reports that Mr. Rees is willing, for a fee of £5.5.-, to oversee the necessary alterations to the heating system. The secretary reports from his trip to the Continent and informs that it had not been possible to combine this with a fund-raising tour."

These few lines tell us that the Association held each year a Christmas collection in order to support the needy at the Home for Waiters and to finance Christmas gifts and a meal for elderly Germans living at the Libury Hall Farm Colony in Hertfordshire. This farm colony had been opened at Whitsun 1902 by the former Association secretary and Board member Wilhelm Müller.

We also learn that in the new house in City Road, after only two years, various alterations and improvements became necessary. Pastor Scholten, of the German congregation in Islington, acted at the time for the Association as Superintendent for the houses in City Road and Charlotte Street. He was in contact with C. Rees, the same architect who built the German Christ Church.

Finally, there is evidence that journeys of Association secretaries to the Continent were often combined with fund-raising efforts, not least because the Association relied heavily on private donations for its work and not at all on any income from the City House Hotel. How times and attitudes of people have changed!

Bernd Hildebrandt



"150 Logo" Background Text (1)

This appeared on our Programme for February - March 2010 and our 150th Anniversary Programme 2010.

The oldest document in the possession of the Association today is a diary from the years 1862 to 1871, in which a Jünglingsverein, founded and led by the pastor of the German church in Islington, recorded its activities: Bible study, discussions in religious topics and choir practice. At the time, this Jünglingsverein existed for a few years parallel to the Jünglingsverein in the Aldersgate YMCA, and members from both groups participated in each others meetings. When, in 1872, the German Branch of the Aldersgate YMCA moved into their own premises at 28 Finsbury Square, the remaining members of the diminished Verein in Islington joined the Verein at Finsbury Square and brought with them their diary, literally their only possession.

This diary is written in Old German (its usage officially discontinued in 1941), with letters so different in character from modern handwriting, that their understanding is lost to today’s generation.

We chose for the “logo” a few lines from the diary at random, purely for their overall visual effect. But when I succeeded to decipher these lines, and the context in which they were written, the following account emerged:

On Monday, 10th April 1865, ten members of the Islington Jünglingsverein and six guests met in the vestry of the church, where they studied and discussed a text of enlightened, humanistic writing by the German poet and critic, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. They recorded their detailed conclusions in the diary and the few lines used for the “logo” read as follows in translation:

"Finally, regarding the reproach that Christianity is an institution for rewards, namely based on the human habit of seeking for rewards and self gain, this can only arise out of complete ignorance of the character of our religion. The essence and purpose of Christianity is not just getting rewards, but to be an institution for reconciliation, which in principle actually aims to suppress all human strife for gain and selfishness. The plain term, the idea of goodness in itself will never move mankind to do good, but only the personal love for the good which became man, namely for our Lord Jesus Christ."

By chance we had chosen a text, which in its entirety is still relevant to this day. And incidentally, it adds also a comment to the text for the month of February.

Bernd Hildebrandt

150th AnniversaryAsst Secretary 1957-1959,
Secretary 1960-1973,
General Secretary 1973-2003

History - 150 Years






The Programme

Dec 2010 - Jan 2011


































Oct - Nov 2010







































Aug - Sep 2010






































The Programme

Jun -Jul 2010




































The Programme

Apr - May 2010




































The Programme

Feb - Mar 2010




150th Anniversary Programme 2010

150th Anniversary
Programme 2010



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