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The foundation of AIEJI

In the late 1940s the Cultural Division of the French High Commissioner’s Office in Germany assigned to H. Van Etten, Netherland, and H. Joubrel, France and Karl Härringer, Germany, the responsibility to organize an international meeting on “ problems in the education of troubled children and youth”.

The purpose of the meeting held in April 1949, was to promote in the aftermath of the war better understanding between the French and the Germans working with troubled youth. While originally the scope of the discussion involved only the German and French individuals, several representatives from other countries were later invited.

A second meeting took place in 1950 in Bad Durckheim, with a third following a year later in Freiburg-im-Breisgau. In each of these previous meetings the French Association of Educators brought enthusiasm to the discussions which in turn motivated participants from other countries to found similar organizations in their own country in support of the educator philosophy as evidenced in France.

By the time that the fourth conference was held in Germany on March 19, 1951, it was becoming clear that such international meetings were helpful in addressing the needs of young people. For this reason, in the mountains near Freiburg-im-Breisgau at Schluchsee, the participants organized the International Organization of Workers for Troubled Children and Youth (A.I.E.J.I.) and elected a Dutchman, D.Q.R. Mulock Houwer, who was then director of the “Zandbergen” schools in Amersfoort, to become president. The infant association then had it headquarters in the Netherlands.

The participants at Schluchsee not only organized and developed the association now known as AIEJI; the also created the international logo of the association, which is recognized throughout the world today. Participants at the international meeting were intrigued by the road signs frequently seen in the Black Forest area warning of wild animals crossing. They thought that the leaping doe, later promoted to a gazelle with the addition of two horns on its head, evoked perfectly the springing movement of the brand new AIEJI. They put it with the Latin motto “in Libertate sursum”.

The world globe which serves as a background to the gazelle appeared first in the minutes of the III World Congress of AIEJI, held in Fontainebleau in 1956. At the time of the international association there were affiliated national organizations existing in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Germany. Since that time, other national associations have been created and have joined the international association of AIEJI.