‘Turnplatz’, Open Air Gymnasium – Gymnastics Movement, Germany

‘Turnplatz’, Open Air Gymnasium – Beginning Event of ‘Turnverein’, Gymnastics Movement, Germany

In 1811 Springtime, Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, a person with a strong Nationalist theory in his mind, found a few young boys from Graue Kloster and Plamann’s school and all of them went to Hasenheide, a hilly, wooded stretch of unused land on the southern slopes of the Spree Valley, to build jumping ditch, running tracks, a circle of wrestling place that became their first gymnasium.

Many more willing youths came to join this group and then, Friedrich Jahn formed ‘Turnverein’, the Gymnastic Club with them. In those days, the nation’s people were making up for the War of Liberation against Napoleon’s dominance.

Jahn felt it to be the need of the country to prepare his members, whom he named as ‘Turnens’, to be strong in body and mind as capable as an army. So, they did regular exercises, followed the routine diet, shared spirited ideas, and made many sports types of equipment, such as ‘Turnplatz’ (its a scaffolding-like structure that was affixed with ladders, poles, and ropes), balancing beam, Indian club, and wands. Jahn’s Gymnasium Club was working with the cause to deliver social/cultural/political views for the liberal ‘freethinking’ German society. They called it ‘Frisch, Frei, Fröhlich, Fromm’ (fresh, free, happy, good).

In his book ‘Die Deutsche Turnkunst’ in 1816 (German Gymnastics), Jahn describes the exercises in the first 163 pages, arranged in 18 sections, devoted to walking, running, jumping, horse vaulting, balancing, horizontal bar, parallel bars, climbing, throwing,  carrying, pulling, pushing, lifting, holding the body outstretched horizontally (flag?), wrestling, jumping with the rope, etc.

In 1819, his ideas were suspected and ‘Turnverein’ was banned by the monarch’s decree. In 1842 the ban was revoked, however, in 1848 many ‘Turnen’ members were forced to leave Germany to migrate outside the country.

Mashhap Team

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