Encouraging Democratic Engagement

The 100th Birthday of the IB-Co-Founder Henri Humblot

On 4 March 2016 Henri Humblot, one of the founders of the IB, would have turned 100 years old. In August 1945, only a few month after the liberation of Germany, Humblot was 29 years old when he started his acitivities as a French youth officer "Chef de la Section Jeunesse et Sports" in the French occupation zone. Three years later he promoted the establishment of the "Internationaler Bund für Sozial- und Kulturabeit" and he supported the required licensing of the organisation.

As German scholar and pedagogue, who spoke fluent German, Humblot applied after the liberation from the Nazi-regime, as a youth officer for the South West, the French zone of occupied Germany. Its mission was both, to prevent the resurgence of Nazi sentiment and their youth organizations and on the other hand to support the education of former Nazi youth to democratic attitudes and values.

Working closely with Carlo Schmid, the president of Württemberg-Hohenzollern, Humblot spoke to young German and wanted to encourage them for democratic commitment and enthusiasm. With international youth exchanges, he gave youth the chance to open up for Europe and to make democratic experiences. Ten months after the war Humblot organized the first international youth meeting in Württemberg with around 500 participants from several European countries. He also wondered how integration programs for former officials of the Hitler Youth coulde be related with much-needed assistance for young refugees. Thousands of unemployed and homless youngsters were moving within the destroyed Germany.

A few months before the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany Humblot had managed it: The establishment of the IB on 11 January 1949, the cultural and social work was in the hands of a German, non-governmental organization (NGO) and thus laid the foundations for the future, non-denominational or politically oriented cultural and social work of the IB.

Humblot remained connected with the IB throughout his life, even after he returned to France. In 1956 he became the first honorary member of the IB. In 1989 he was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit 1st class. On November 9, 1996 Henri Humblot died in his home in Burgundy.

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