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Dr. Kurt Hahn


1886 - 1974

Educationalist and educational philosopher. Born in Berlin, into a Jewish family, Hahn was educated in Germany and Britain before obtaining a position in the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, analysing British newspapers, during the First World War. For a time, he served as private secretary to Prince Maximilian of Baden (Max von Baden), and it was with this Prince that Hahn set up an elite school at Salem, based on principles of compassion, community and physical education. Hahn was concerned at declining moral values and believed that the young had an innate sense of decency which needed to be cultured as part of the educational process. He believed strongly that young people should possess a sense of community and compassion for others, that they should be allowed time for imagination and reflection, and that a sense of self-discipline, craftsmanship and enterprise should be encouraged. His 'cure' was a school regime which involved fitness training, challenging expeditions, project work and providing emergency services for the local community.

Hahn spoke out publicly against Hitler, resulting in a period of imprisonment. He was released following an appeal by the British Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald (1866 - 1937), and emigrated to Scotland where he founded Gordonstoun School on similar lines to the school in Salem. In the years following World War II a series of schools were founded worldwide which followed Hahn's principles. These are linked by an organisation called Round Square which promotes internationalism - another of Hahn's principles. The organisation was founded in 1966 and named after the stable block at Gordonstoun.

Hahn was also closely involved in the foundation of the Outward Bound movement and the Duke of Edinburgh's award scheme, with Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Hahn retired from Gordonstoun in 1953, and died in Ravensburg.


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