THE STATE OF THE WORLD MOVEMENT
This article was written by Piet Kroonenberg of Amsterdam, The
Netherlands. Piet is one of the Historians for the World Organization
of the Scout Movements (WOSM). This article has been copied with the
permission of the author and made available to all Scouts world wide.
When Scouting began in 1908 to B.P.'s surprise, it spread all over
the world. In the late 30's Scouting was well established in over
50 countries. But dark days were ahead for some of these movements.
The values that Scouting stood for were in contradiction to the
ideas of some of the totalitarian communist, national-socialist and
fascist regimes that had taken over in several European countries.
During the civil war in Russia (1917-1922) which the communists won,
Russian Scouting was considered to be a capitalist, militaristic and
conservative movement, one of the "enemies of the working classes".
So when detected and caught, hundreds of leaders (male and female),
Scouts and Rover Scouts, Guides and Rangers, were killed for the
simple reason that they belonged to the Scout movements.
In Italy, Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) and his fascists had taken
over in 1922. He was a fanatic nationalist and considered Scouting
as being an international movement endangering the national feelings
of the Italian youngsters. In 1927, he decided that in order to
guarantee an all-fascist education, all other youth movements,
including Scouting and Guiding, were to be banned and disbanded.
Membership in the Italian Balilla was made obligatory.
In January of 1933, Adolf Hitler and his Nazi gangsters took over
in Germany. Scouting and Guiding did not fit in the Nazi pattern
and ideology. The communists accused Scouting of being a military
organization, the Nazi's considered Scouting as being too soft,
not military enough. The fact that Scouting and Guiding trained
boys and girls to develop self-discipline, self-thinking and self-
deciding, clashed with the robot like mass discipline that the
Nazi's stood for. The Fuhrer thought and decided for all. Scouting
did not train its members to be well disciplined, obedient
robots willing to gladly die for the Fuhrer and Fatherland and to
obey without thinking. Scouting was an international movement and
not nationalist enough. Above all, the Nazi's opposed four of the
original Scout Law teaching that, "A SCOUT IS A FRIEND TO ALL AND
A BROTHER TO EVERY OTHER SCOUT, IRRESPECTIVE OF NATIONALITY, RACE
OR RELIGION". In the nazi's eyes, this was blasphemous. The
assumption that a German youngster would consider a dark skinned,
a Slav or worse still, a Jew as a brother, was really too much.
Early in 1933, the Nazi's banned and disbanded Scouting and
Guiding. The Hitler Youth (for boys) and the Bund Deutscher
Madel (for girls) were to replace them. When World War II began
and Nazi Germany managed to occupy most of Europe. The Scout and
Guide movements of most of these occupied countries were also banned
and forced to disband. Many of these movements went underground
for the duration of the war.
The Scout Spirit was strong and proved to be indestructible.
Neither the communists, nor the fascists nor the national
socialists were able to eliminate it. Despite the banning, the
persecution and the oppression, even the killings, some remained
undetected. In their hearts and minds the Scouting and Guiding
ideals lived on. It was the hope and dream of many who waited
for the day when they would be able to return into the open once
And so it happened in Italy in 1944, in the liberated European
countries in 1944-1945 and even in Germany in 1945; everywhere
Scouting and Guiding rose again amidst the ruins and resumed its
In the east and central European countries under communist rule,
it took a little longer. In 1989, the Soviet system was on the
brink of collapse. The iron curtain got holes in it and the Berlin
Wall came tumbling down to the surprise of many. Scouting and
Guiding revived in the former communist countries. It even spread
to countries where Scouting and Guiding had never existed before.
Proving once again that the spirit of Baden-Powell (B-P) was stronger
Now, almost 10 years later, the revived or newly established
Scout organizations of the following countries, formerly under
communist rule, are members of the World Organization of the
Scout Movements (WOSM) and were officially registered as
such as per the dates mentioned:
||San Marino 1990
||Czech Republic 6/1996
In addition, there are Scout movements in Albania, Bosnia-Herzogevina,
Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kirigisistan, Laos, The Russian Commonwealth
of Independent States, Ukraine and Viet Nam.
As far as WOSM is concerned, there are 149 countries with
internationally recognized National Scout Organizations. There are
26 main territories where Scouting exists but is often overseas
branches of member Scout associations. There are a total of 38
potential members which are not yet a WOSM member. With the
assistance of the World Bureau and various European and American
movements, these are still in a state of development. As soon as
they meet the requirements, they will be recognized and admitted
to the World Movement.
There are six countries where there is (officially) no Scouting as
yet. Andorra, People's Republic of China, Cuba, North Korea, Laos
and Myanmar (formerly Burma). As far as China is concerned, this
is not quite correct. In July 1997, Hong Kong, with its 53,000
Scouts, was returned to China.
Theodore Roosevelt Council, B.S.A.
82 Stirrup La., Levittown NY 11756 USA
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