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 again.

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 good work.

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 and indestructible.

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:

Hungary 7/1990 San Marino 1990
Croatia 7/1993 Latvia 7/1993
Romania 7/1993 Montenegro 10/1993
Mongolia 11/1994 Slovenia 12/1994
Yugoslavia 9/1995 Estonia 1/1996
Poland 1/1996 Czech Republic 6/1996
Armenia 4/1997 Moldova 4/1997
Tajikistan 4/1997 Lithuania 7/1997
Macedonia 7/1997 Georgia 12/1997
Slovakia 12/1997 Belarus 3/1998

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.

International Representative,
Theodore Roosevelt Council, B.S.A.
82 Stirrup La., Levittown NY 11756 USA
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