The Wandervogel is a part of the youth movement and can trace its origins back to Berlin at the end of the 19th century. The first members were schoolchildren and students from middle-class circles. People wanted to free themselves from the constraints of urban life and strove for an existence in harmony with nature. Great importance was attached to the singing of folk songs. The association was characterised by simplicity which was expressed in the relationship towards the homeland and in the style of clothing worn. The movement was founded in 1901 by Karl Fischer. In a time pervaded by many different ideological currents, the Wandervögel wanted to adopt a neutral position. During the era of National Socialism, the movement was disbanded and absorbed into the Hitler Youth or was banned.
There are various theories about the choice of name. One is that it can be traced back to a poem by Otto Roquette. In the first verse, the word “Wandervogel” is applied to people for the first time. Another theory is that the name is taken from a poem in Walt Whitman’s collection „Leaves of Grass”. Yet another interpretation refers to the inscription on the gravestone of Kaethe Branco, a daughter of Hermann von Helmholtz in a Berlin cemetery. The first verse refers to the Wandervögel.
Karl Vötterle joined the Wandervogel as a boy and published the first song sheets for the singing movement which became known as the Finkensteiner Blätter at Bärenreiter.