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Life for children in need

100 years ago, the founder of SOS Children's Village was born, Hermann Gmeiner.

Alberschwende He was a visionary, pragmatic and father of thousands of children: Hermann Gmeiner was born 100 years ago, June 23, 1919 in Alberschwende. During that time people were still suffering from the consequences of the First World War.

The boy grew up as sixth of the nine children in a mountain farming family. His mother died when he was five years old. Since then Elsa's eldest daughter has been worried about him and the other brothers and sisters. There was the dedication of later SOS mothers.

Hermann Gmeiner was a valuable child. His good performances at the Alberschwender farmhouse were awarded a scholarship, enabling him to attend a grammar school in Feldkirch. However, in 1940 – shortly before Mature – was compiled by the German Wehrmacht.

In the war against the Soviet Union, Gmeiner was deployed in Hungary and Finland. He was wounded several times. Once a Russian boy saved his life. Gmeiner never forgot it. I later told us that the story of SOS Children's Villages began with this experience. But there was still war and he was wounded in the Bregenz hospital. By November 1945, she had been helping her father at the farm. When his older brother came back from captivity and replaced him, Hermann Gmeiner met his maturity. In the fall of 1946 he began studying medicine in Innsbruck.

In addition to studying Gmeiner engaged in youth work. He was leading a decade of young people in Innsbruck and so faced the fear of many orphan wars.

Together with dedicated women and men, he developed the idea of ​​SOS Children's Village. Elderly children in the war should get a new home with a family structure. Unlike the former orphanages and educational institutions, the children had to grow up in their own home, with their mother and brothers, under the protection of the rural community. In this way, the four original principles of SOS Children's Village appeared "mother, brother, sister, house, village".

First family house

On April 25, 1949, Gmeiner and his colleagues founded the association "Societas Socialis" and since then have been devoted exclusively to the idea of ​​the SOS Children's Village. He also dropped out of the medical school.

His idea was worth it. Gmeiner, however, had only 600 shillings. Maria Hofer, a companion, helped her. It sold 50,000 shillings by selling the country. Therefore, the reason can be purchased in Imst, and they fund the first donation call.

That same year, construction of the first SOS Children's Village in Imst began. The first celebration of the first family home – a house of peace – was held on December 2, 1949. The ceremony of building four more houses was held the same day. Vorarlberg received SOS Children's Village in 1966 in Dornbirn on Knieberg.

The movement of the children's village quickly expanded – across Austria and internationally. There are now more than 550 SOS children's villages in more than 134 countries, where fewer than 80,000 children and adolescents found a patriotic home. In addition, more than a million young people and their dependents support social, educational and medical programs as well as emergency assistance projects.

On April 26, 1986, Hermann Gmeiner died at the age of 66 years of cancer. At his own request he was buried in a tomb on the SOS Children's Village in Imst. Gmeiner has already designated his successor in 1985: Helmut Kutin. South Tyrolac chaired the SOS Children's Village organization from 1986 until 2012. Since then, Indian President Siddhartha Kaul.


"Red nits, do something" was the motto of Hermann Gmeiner. He received several awards for his work. In Vorarlberg in 1974 he received the Golden Medal of the State of Vorarlberg, and in 1980 honey. Toni Russ price. In Vienna, his name was named and a monument was erected.

Motherfucker Maria Weber and her children in Imst.

SOS mom Maria Weber and she children in Imst.

The SOS Children's Village in Dornbirn was moved in 1966.

SOS Children's Village in Dornbirn In 1966.

Hermann Gmeiner visited the first SOS Children's Village in Imst.

Hermann Gmeiner visited SOS Children's Village in Imst first.

Hermann Gmeiner (second from left) realizes the idea of ​​SOS Children's Village with Helene Didl, Maria Hofer and Walter Gstrein.

Hermann Gmeiner (2nd to right) were made by Helene Didl, Maria Hofer and Walter Gstrein SOS Children's Village Idea.