Serving people for over 100 years - the history of the AWO

"We don't want to remain in the past, but rather look back again and again and test the present against it, and reorient ourselves on what was good about it in order to be ready for the future again and again."

Marie Juchacz – Founder of the AWO and women's rights activist

AWO Bezirksverband Mittelrhein — Marie Juchacz — Gründerin der AWO und Frauenrechtlerin
Die AWO Mittelrhein fördert, begleitet und unterstützt Menschen jeder Generation, Nationalität, Religion und jeden Geschlechts. Sie ist demokratisch und föderativ aufgebaut. Sie verbindet freiwilliges Engagement mit professionellen Dienstleistungen.

In 2019, Arbeiterwohlfahrt celebrated the 100th anniversary of its foundation and the AWO Bezirksverband Mittelrhein celebrated the 70th anniversary of its existence. To mark these impressive figures, we would like to take a short journey back in time.

What have we achieved in the past decades? Who were and who are the people behind the great achievements and how is AWO Mittelrhein positioned for the future? In order to find out, we will take a critical look back and see whether we have succeeded in offensively carrying the basic values of the AWO into society through our actions and making them a reality.

Key dates in the history of the AWO on the Middle Rhine

  • 1918

    End of the First World War. The November Revolution of 1918 is followed by the founding of the Weimar Republic in 1919.

  • 1919

    Foundation of the "Main Committee for Workers' Welfare" as a party committee of the SPD

  • Early 1920s

    Founding of the first local groups of the Workers' Welfare Association on the Middle Rhine

  • Around 1924

    Foundation of the "District Committee for Workers' Welfare Upper Rhine Province". Seat: Severinstrasse in Cologne.

  • 1925

    The "Hauptausschuss für Arbeiterwohlfahrt" is registered as an association in Berlin

  • 1933

    Adolf Hitler is appointed Chancellor of the Reich. This is followed by the smashing of parties, trade unions and other democratic organisations. Workers' Welfare is also banned.

  • 1939 to 1945

    Second World War

  • 1946

    Re-establishment of the "Main Committee for Workers' Welfare"; the district committees established up to that time are invited to attend. Establishment of an office in Hanover.

  • 1946

    Opening of the first kindergarten in the district in Düren

  • 1947

    First conference of the "Bezirksausschuss Obere Rheinprovinz" after the end of the Second World War

  • 1948

    Move to the first offices at Venloer Wall in Cologne. The barracks are a donation of the Swiss Workers' Relief Association

  • 1949

    Foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic

  • 1951

    The district association becomes an association again

  • 1957

    Opening of the first retirement home in Cologne's Rubensstraße, the first in the district

  • 1961

    Construction of the Berlin Wall

  • 1962

    1960 the Federal Association initiates the "Wandermütterschule" (school for migrant mothers). 1962 the district adopts the model of the mobile school for parents

  • 1963

    Opening of the first care centre for Turkish employees* in Cologne

  • 1966

    Opening of a "special kindergarten" for physically and mentally handicapped children in Derschlag

  • 1970

    Opening of the holiday resort "Hubertushang" in Odenthal

  • 1977

    Opening of the "Marie Juchacz Centre" in Cologne-Chorweiler. Further centres for the elderly are established in Dieringhausen, Troisdorf, Düren, Herzogenrath and Weilerswist

  • 1970s

    Foundation of the "Mobile Social Emergency Services"

  • 1980

    Foundation of the district youth work

  • 1982

    Foundation of the "Helene-Simon-Bildungswerk" as a further education centre of the district association

  • 1987

    Establishment of an assisted living facility for HIV-positive and AIDS patients in Cologne

  • 1988

    Opening of the extension of the Marie Juchacz Centre in Cologne-Chorweiler

  • 1989

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

  • 1990

    Day of German Unification/German-German Unification

  • 1992

    Opening of Community accommodation for asylum seekers

  • 1994

    The AWO Bezirksverband Mittelrhein e. V. takes over the Sommerberg House Youth Home in Rösrath from the Federal Association

  • 1995

    Long-term care insurance is introduced as an independent branch of social insurance

  • 2001

    Relocation of the office of the district association to Cologne-Chorweiler

  • 2004

    Spin-off of various business areas into legally independent, non-profit subsidiaries

  • 2005

    The Second Book of the Social Code (SGB II) comes into force

  • 2006

    Merger of the Bonn/Rhein-Sieg district associations

  • 2007

    AWO Federal Conference in Magdeburg adopts "Principles and key points for the development of the AWO"

  • 2009

    Merger of the district associations Euskirchen/Rhein-Erft and Oberberg/Rhein-Berg

  • 2009

    District Executive Board decides to apply the AWO Code of Conduct for itself and its subsidiaries

  • 2011

    Suspension of compulsory military service; the last civil service contracts expire The Federal Voluntary Service is created.

  • 2014

    Completion of the new building Haus Aggerblick/Alfred-Delp-Altenzentrum

  • 2015

    Opening of shared flats for senior citizens in Nierderzier/Huchem-Stammeln

  • 2016

    Opening of the Süssendell senior citizens' centre in Stolberg-Mausbach

  • 2018

    Introduction of the Presidium model

For this reason, we have reissued the chronicle "Arbeiterwohlfahrt am Mittelrhein - Ursprünge und Entwicklung" (Workers' Welfare Association of the Middle Rhine - Origins and Development), which appeared in 1989, and supplemented it with the present volume "Der AWO Bezirksverband Mittelrhein e. V. 1989 bis 2019 - Der Weg ins 21. Jahrhundert" (The AWO District Association of the Middle Rhine 1989 to 2019 - The Path to the 21st Century).

The third book of the trilogy, "Faces of the AWO on the Middle Rhine", which will be published on the occasion of the anniversary, is dedicated to the people from our region, using the example of 35 personalities from the AWO, who with passionate commitment have built up a well-functioning, close-knit AWO assistance and support network.

Die AWO Mittelrhein fördert, begleitet und unterstützt Menschen jeder Generation, Nationalität, Religion und jeden Geschlechts. Sie ist demokratisch und föderativ aufgebaut. Sie verbindet freiwilliges Engagement mit professionellen Dienstleistungen.

The book trilogy on the history of the AWO on the Middle Rhine

  • For the people! Faces of the AWO on the Middle Rhine.

    15.5 cm x 22 cm, paperback, 120 pages with numerous illustrations Ed.: AWO Bezirksverband Mittelrhein e. V. ISBN 978-3-7616-3317-5, €16,95.

    What's this all about?

    For 100 years, people have been committed to workers' welfare. Even here on the Middle Rhine, women and men have created the AWO under sometimes very adverse conditions in the difficult times after the First and Second World Wars and, after the ban of the National Socialists, rebuilt it in 1945.

    The first volume of the trilogy - Faces of the AWO on the Middle Rhine presents in 35 biographical sketches personalities who have shaped and helped shape the association on a voluntary basis. The portraits provide an authentic insight into the lives of Marie Juchacz, Theo Burauen, Robert Görlinger, Elisabeth Kirschmann-Roehl, Walter Heckmann and 30 other personalities from the entire district area and make the history of the AWO alive and tangible.

  • Arbeiterwohlfahrt am Mittelrhein 1919 to 1989, origins and development.

    15.5 cm x 22 cm, paperback 200 pages with 97 b/w illustrations. Ed.: AWO District Association of the Middle Rhine e. V. ISBN 978-3-7616-3318-2, €16,95.

    What's this one about?

    The book illuminates the origins and development of workers' welfare in the Middle Rhine region. The basis for this journey into the past is extensive research in historical documents and archives and discussions with contemporary witnesses. This chronicle traces the first 70 years since the organisation was founded. It shows how Arbeiterwohlfahrt not only provided emergency aid through soup kitchens and clothing donations, through family assistance and child recovery measures, but also shows its struggle for legally guaranteed social care.

    Close to the events, the volume documents the setbacks during the Second World War and the orientation in the period following, with the establishment of the organisation and its network of social institutions. An exciting overall picture of the beginnings, reconstruction and change.

  • The AWO Bezirksverband Mittelrhein e. V. 1989 to 2019 - the way into the 21st century.

    Wenzel Seibold, Ann-Katrin Thomm

    15,5 cm x 22 cm, card cover, 192 pages with 16 b/w and 78 colours. color illustrations. Published by: AWO Bezirksverband Mittelrhein e. V., ISBN 978-3-7616-3319-9, €16.95.

    What's it about?

    The second part of the chronicle "Der AWO Bezirksverband Mittelrhein e. V." deals with central topics from the last 30 years.

    This volume sheds light on our way to a new mission statement and the associated basic programme. It deals with the new publication as well as with the changes in the structure of the association - while the AWO basic values of solidarity, tolerance, justice, equality and freedom will of course remain.

    Enriched with photos and graphics, the chronicle provides insights into the history of the last three decades, drawn from documents and interviews. Informative topic boxes such as those on the reform of the social nursing care insurance system or Agenda 2010 illustrate the upheavals in the social sector and the implications for the AWO.

    The authors.

    Wenzel Seibold studied modern and contemporary history and philosophy at the Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg im Breisgau. Since 2012 he has been a freelance historian and editor in Wiesbaden. As co-founder and vice-chairman of Open History e. V., he voluntarily promotes an open and active historical science.

    Dr. Ann-Katrin Thomm is a historian. Her fields of activity are the conception and content development of exhibitions and publications as well as the planning and implementation of seminars in historical-political education. The history of the labour movement is one of her main areas of work.

Die AWO Mittelrhein fördert, begleitet und unterstützt Menschen jeder Generation, Nationalität, Religion und jeden Geschlechts. Sie ist demokratisch und föderativ aufgebaut. Sie verbindet freiwilliges Engagement mit professionellen Dienstleistungen.

The books are available at the AWO Bezirksverband Mittelrhein and in bookstores.