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International Children's Day in Germany

June 1st has been International Children's Day since 1925, when "The World Conference for the Well-being of Children" in Geneva, Switzerland, named it as a day of celebration for the world's children, as well as one recognizing the obstacles facing many of them in their lives and education.

After WWII the day was mainly celebrated by Eastern Bloc countries including East Germany, the DDR, but it was initially the result of a combination of two events centered around child welfare which took place on the same day. Neither of which had anything to do with communism.

"The World Conference for the Well being of Children" was being held in Switzerland, and 54 representatives from different countries were discussing the best ways to protect children, while in San Francisco the Chinese consul-general had invited Chinese orphans to a highly successful and publicized celebration of the "Dragon Boat Festival", and it was after this coincidence that June 1st was chosen to be an official Children's Day.

A holiday filled by celebrations involving children in one way or another. School trips, entertainment, gift giving and special songs, as well as conferences and speeches dedicated both to publicizing problems and to seeking ways of protecting the rights and welfare of all children.

However although Internationaler Kindertag was a big holiday in East Germany, and eagerly anticipated by the children, this was not all which took place on June 1st because political overtones were added to the general festivities, as they had been in 1930's Germany.

Such as the symbolic destroying of western literature by pupils and "Young Pioneers", which was the East German youth organization.

Meanwhile from 1954 West Germany began to follow World Children's Day, Weltkindertag, which was closely associated with UNICEF, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund or United Nations Children's Fund.

Taking place on September 20th this had less to do with games, presents and songs and more with 'shining a light' on the lives of children worldwide, and finding ways to protect their rights.

After German reunification in 1990, the date and name of the event which had been celebrated in the West became the official ones expected to be followed by the population in what had been the German Democratic Republic.

Not surprisingly the majority of the former East Germans had other ideas, and they have not unilaterally adapted to the 'new' day.

As with the other Eastern European countries, the majority of parents continue to celebrate Children’s Day on June 1 as they always have done, and public Children's Day celebrations also take place.

So in Germany Children's Days are still celebrated separately. Although the once divided city of Berlin, for many years a small island in the middle of Eastern Germany, deals with the situation diplomatically and makes a holiday of both days.

A bonus for the city's children.

And there is a movement, Mehr Zeit fuer Kinder, More Time for Children, which believes as there are two traditional days in place then the whole of Germany should celebrate both of them.

Days when all the young people of the world, and their lives, are officially recognized and events held which can be used to help and support them in some way, increasing their chances in life and safeguarding their futures, while also giving an extra opportunity for Germany's parents and children to share their own experiences and have fun together.

Although there are many days dedicated to children observed around the world, there is no recognized universal "Children's Day", and in Germany June 1st is, for the moment at least, celebrated as International Children's Day in just one part of the country.

Official International Kindertag Logo - The result of a paintball game in Berlin on 'Internationaler Kindertag', via s-bahn-berlin.de

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