Deutsche Fassung

If you enter the Volkspark from the north, from the Hasenheide street, than you can't miss the monument. You'll see it.

Friendrich Ludwig Jahn was born at 11.8.1778 in Lanz near Perleberg. He died at 15.10.1852 in Freyburg at the Unstrut. Most of the time, he was not very far away form Berlin. So he had to be honored in this guide.

In 1811 he opened the worlds first public ground to practice gymnastics. Near that area, people still play football. Turks and German do it voluntarily, peacefully and disciplined, without the need of a organization. Everybody can join them, but at least one should bring a ball. Mister Jahn would enjoy that. For him, gymnastics had to be popular, including celebrations, dance and games.

Today he doesn't dance any more. He turned into a bronze statue on a socket which is bordered by stones dedicated to him. You can see some of them here. They carry the names of gymnastics clubs. Germans spread their enthusiasm about his ideas all over the world. This was one of the less harmful german attempts, to heal the world. His intentions were distinctively political. According to his time, he may be judged as one of the progressive thinkers. However, he seems to be as anti-semitical as many of this time. It is hard to say, whether he has prepared the shoa and has to be seen in a different way. At least he is the father of sport and fitness and he cannot be made responsible for the outgrowths of that. E.g. the delusion of sexual performance, which turns it into a sport and causes inferiority feelings and animosities.

At his time, propagating gymnastics was suspicious as they were part of military education. There were no civil gymnastics. Of course it was only a half emancipation step. Women were not included and as he engaged himself fighting against Napoleon, the reality revoked the emancipation of gymnastics from soldiery. He himself became a part of the armed forces and a politician.

In 1810 he was co-founder of the German Federation. He wrote invocations against Napoleon. He helped to organize the Luetzow Freikorps which was joined by students and gymnasts. He became their battalion commander. The victory over Napoleon was partly due to him. He was the special emissary of Baron from Stein. After that he fought without arms for a german state with a constitution. In 1815 the German Student League was founded and referred specifically to him. His antagonists launched a feud. The result was the prohibition of gymnastics in the end of 1817. He was arrested in 1819 and released with restrictions in 1825. For several years he was supervised by the police. It took some time until civil gymnastics were allowed again in the fourties. In 1848 he had his last political comeback. He became a sitting member of the parliament in Frankfurt. Perhaps it was the wisdom of his age, now he engaged himself rather in peace and order than in subversion.

Some motherfuckers and wannabe pimps think, this monument was made for their neurotic graffitis. In fact the money for it was collected by privates. It was installed at the anniversary of the day, Jahn opened the gymnastics ground at the Volkspark Hasenheide. This 139 stones symbolize more will and power than the scribbling of spoiled kids which got their identity from advertisement clips.


• Gymmedia
• Wikipedia
• Jahn-Museum

© Fotos, Words and Design by Zacke. May 2002/July 2004.