In an interview given recently to a CRIMSON reporter Mr. K. I. C. L. Friedrich, who recently addressed the Liberal Club, spoke at some length on that interesting phase of post-war Germany, the "Gugenelbewegung" or the so-called "Youth Movement". Mr. Friedrich has some here from Germany at the invitation of Mr. John Rothschild and as the guest of the Student Forum, of New York. He is touring the country giving lectures on the various phases of the great "Youth Movement" that has recently swept over his country. Speaking of this movement Mr. Freiderich said:
Expresses New Spirit in Germany
"'The Youth Movement' expresses the new spirit in Germany. It feels that the old life was cold, hard and unprofitable, stiffling all the better instincts of the young people of the nation. The old militaristic system could not be called culture. It was merely a mechanical perfection, wholly lacking in spontaneity. The 'Youth Movement' is embracing a different theory of values in the educational standard. The tendency is constantly towards a more liberal ideal. Its studies are more and more in the realm of Philosophy, Literature and Religion. The old shackles are being cast off by a new and spontaneous enthusiasm.
No Unifying Organization
"The 'Youth Movement' has no unifying organization. It embraces individuals who have come within its ranks with widely different beliefs and for widely different reasons. Some have felt the loss of culture, some of a religious life, some of a certain essential liberalism--all in short have found something lacking under the old regime, and have turned eagerly towards this new movement for freedom. Nor has the 'Youth Movement' any political significance. It has within it groups from all parties who have broken away from the old order. There is the Socialist group, the Catholic group, the Reformist group and so on. Under these circumstances it is quite evident that any attempt at unification--assuming that any were to be made--would necessarily result in failure. The common tie is one far deeper than organization; so deep in fact that these different groups hardly realize that it exists at all, and that tie is the deeply felt but indistinctly expressed desire for a rejuvenation of the whole of Germany. Nothing can demonstrate this more effectively than the universality of its membership in the nation. People from every status of life, of every age--for the movement is one of the youth of the spirit and not necessarily the youth of years--have joined its ranks.
Breaks Away from Old Order
"Having broken away from the old order which it feels offered no satisfactory or permanent solution to the problem of national existence, the 'Youth Movement' has attacked the problem of a new system which will serve in its place. It has come to the conclusion that a mere solving of the economic problems is insufficient, and it has turned to the more fundamental idea of a religious foundation built by a revival of religious experiences. Upon this foundation a new national culture is to be built up"
Describes German Colleges
When asked to touch upon those points of university life in America and Germany, which through their similarity or difference offered a certain saliency to themselves he proceeded:
"A most striking feature of the German university is the absolute intellectual freedom that it permits and to some degree fosters. Nor is this freedom confined to the students. A professor is at entire liberty to hold any views that seem best to him, and these views he may, and in fact does, impart to his pupils. In his studies the German youth is perhaps more interested in generalization than are the youth of America who are ever apt to turn toward the more concrete realities of life.
Little College Social Life
"There is in the German university no such social life as is to be found here. I think that the greatest single unifying factor in your schools and colleges is the community of interest centering around your athletic teams. The students come together at more or less regular intervals, with a common interest, a common excitement. This tends powerfully to bring about a certain fusion of the mass. I believe that your sports take the place of the German system of military training. Since the war the popularity of athletic contests, and especially of soccer has increased rapidly, and is being taken up by undergraduates with great enthusiasm along with tennis and golf and that time honored German institution--the student duel.
"Another thing that I think might be interesting to Americans is the German custom of staying only one year at the university from which one intends to graduate. A student will frequently attend three or four universities in the course of his four years of undergraduate life, remaining for only two terms at the institution from which he graduates. Our college terms are from May through July and from November through February".