The contributors to the Cluss symposium in Heilbronn.

The auditorium at the symposium on October 29.

Symposium: Adolf Cluss and the Turner movement - from the "Turnfest" in Heilbronn in 1846 to the American exile

Institut für Sportgeschichte Baden-Württemberg and Stadtarchiv Heilbronn

In a 1904 letter to one of his nieces in Germany, Adolf Cluss enthusiastically describes an event from his youth - a visit to the Heilbronn gymnastic festival in 1846. From several German towns several hundred gymnasts came to Heilbronn to do gymnastics together and to celebrate, sing and discuss. Adolf Cluss brought 28 of his gymnastic companions from Mainz, and he remembers with pleasure an excursion to Weinsberg, to the poet Justinus Kerner's house, where the gymnasts sang enthusiastically the poem of Kerner "Wohlauf noch getrunken."

This song was re-sung by the Heilbronn TSG, a male-voice choir, on October 28th in the Heilbronn Deutschhofkeller. The song accompanied an opening lecture by Prof. Dr. Wolfram Siemann from the University of Munich and a 2-day symposium, which focused on Adolf Cluss and the Heilbronn gymnastic festivial (Turnfest).

A total of nine talks, spanned two days, touching on themes of the Turnfest in Heilbronn and the destiny of the emigrated Turners to the USA. The first section on Friday entitled, " German gymnasts in pre-March," was initiated by the Ulm City Archive Director Dr. Michael Wettengel. Wettengel spoke about the, " gymnastic clubs and their relation to democratic associations and to the labor movement in the Rhine Main area in 1848/49." Prof. Dr. Michael Krüger, Director of the Institute of Sport Science, from the Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster, reported on the "Heilbronn Turnfest - festival culture and gymnastic practise in the early gymnastic movement," and Dr. Annette Hofmann, the scientific assistant at the Institute of Sport Science at the University in Münster, opened a discussion about biographies of exemplary German American gymnasts with the "inhabitant of Heilbronn Wilhelm Pfänder, a German American gymnastic pioneer".

Adolf Cluss was also a theme, to which Sabina Dugan of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., spoke about under the heading "Adolf Cluss in Washington - communist and gymnast." The Turnfest lecture in the evening by Prof. Dr. Wolfram Siemann from the University of Munich, "the Heilbronn gymnastic party in the context of the political movement of pre-March" was changed to the menace under which the gymnasts pursued sport and policy in the time before 1848.

The third biography was discussed on Saturday, October 29th in the second section, "German gymnasts in the USA"; Dr. Ansgar Reiss, exhibit curator in the German Historical Museum of Berlin, reported on "Karl Heinrich Schnauffer (1823-1854), a gymnast, poet, and emigrant." All three described gymnasts were participants in the Heilbronn Turnfest and remained in contact after they immigrated to the USA.

Prof. Dr. Kathleen Neils Conzen, Professor for American History at the University of Chicago, dealt with "Reshaping the Nation," and the political role of the gymnasts in Washington, D.C.. An expansion of the perspective on the influence of the German gymnastics to the whole USA was discussed by Prof. Dr. Gertrud Pfister from the University of Copenhagen with her talk "the German gymnastic system and the American school gymnastics", and Prof. Dr. Gerald Gems of the North Central college Naperville, Illinois, rounded the curve with "The Chicago Turners : The Demise of a Radical Past".

The meetings were escorted by Dr. Bill Gilcher of Goethe Institute of Washington and alternately by Dr. Lothar Wieser of the institute of sports history Baden-Wurttemberg and Peter Wanner of the Stadtarchiv Heilbronn. They took place in the Adolf Cluss cube before atmospheric scenery, and all seminar paper was accompanied by a lively discussion of the numerous listeners. The organizing institute of sports history Baden-Wurttemberg in Maulbronn and the Stadtarchiv Heilbronn plan together the publication of a conference tape to document the results of this first scientific discussion with the Heilbronn gymnastic festival of 1846, to the first German gymnastic festival of the history with national character.



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