Adolf Reichwein Archive

The Adolf Reichwein Archive consists of the legacy left by the pedagogue and resistance fighter Adolf Reichwein (1898–1944), a comprehensive collection of photographs and the records of the Adolf Reichwein Association (1982–2017).

Adolf Reichwein is known to the public as a member of the resistance group “Kreisauer Kreis“. Owing to his activities in this group he was sentenced to death in 1944 and subsequently executed in Berlin-Plötzensee. From an educational historical perspective, his work as a head of the Adult Education Center (Volkshochschule) Jena is of particular interest, as is his activity as a professor at the Pedagogical Academy in Halle and his teaching activity at the country school in Tiefensee (Brandenburg). Here, in 1937, the films “Schaffendes Schulvolk” and “Film in der Landschule“ were produced. From 1939 until his death, Reichwein chaired the department “School and Museum“ at the State Museum for German Ethnographic Culture in Berlin. Here, he played a key role in setting up a folklore-oriented museum pedagogy as a means of educating the people.

Subject to a cooperation of the BBF and the Adolf-Reichwein Association, an edition of his pedagogical works was published in five volumes.

Legacy of Adolf Reichwein

The material left by Adolf Reichwein does not constitute a “true legacy” in archival terms: the family home was air-raided in Berlin in 1943; and many of the original documents were destroyed. In memory of Adolf Reichwein, his family and friends posthumously collected a large corpus of documents. The collection to date comprises letters written by Reichwein and printed copies of his articles, manuscripts and books. The documents are enriched by “memories” contributed by friends and “memorial speeches” of his contemporaries and materials concerning the “Kreisauer Kreis“.

Since the BBF acquired the documents in 1997, the collection has continually been expanded due to donations and purchases. Currently, the holdings comprise 12 running meters.

The entire material has been indexed and it can be searched online via the archive database.


Collection of Photographs

The vast corpus of pictures currently contains roughly 1,300 pictures and photographs – including some duplicates and draft copies. The material documents some of the stations in the life of Adolf Reichwein, including many portraits of Reichwein himself and other persons, family photographs and photographs documenting his travels. Many group pictures were made during his work in adult and worker education in Thuringia in the 1920s and during his time as a university lecturer at the Pedagogical Academy in Halle in the early 1930s – as well as his activity at the State Museum for German Ethnografic Culture in Berlin until 1944.

His resistance against the National Socialists is documented in photographs taken during his court trial at the Volksgerichtshof on October 20, 1944.

The published and unpublished professional photographs from Tiefensee take a special role. They were made for “Schaffendes Schulvolk“ and “Film in der Landschule”. The photographs document the practical school life and work at the “Landschule” (country school) in Tiefensee.

Records From the Adolf Reichwein Association

The records of the Adolf Reichwein Association (Adolf-Reichwein-Verein e. V.) which was founded in 1982 following the instigation of Roland Reichwein and Wilfried Huber, comprises the records from the founding of the association until its dissolution in 2017. These papers on the one hand document the manifold activities in terms of conferences, exhibitions and symposia focusing the life, work and impact of Adolf Reichwein. On the other hand, the documents provide insights into the association’s engagement at schools and universities for the support of pedagogical and social work in Reichwein’s spirit.

This collection has in part been indexed.