Where do the children of bargemen actually go to school?
Inland waterway vessels are often run as family businesses. While the children are still small, they travel with their parents on the ship. But once they reach school age, they need a permanent place to live and go to school. In 1907, the Berlin Protestant Bargemen’s Welfare (Berliner Evangelische Schifferfürsorge) opened one of the first bargemen children hostels in Germany near the Teltow Canal, in Boberstraße 1. Initially, 35 children lived there and went to the surrounding schools.
Of about a dozen German bargemen’s children hostels, only two are still in operation in 2020, in Würzburg and Salem-Köslin.
The Teltow Schifferkinderheim, too, did not serve its purpose for long. In 1926/27 it was converted into a retirement home. By inserting walls and ceilings, twelve single rooms were created – with central heating, electric light, a gas cooker and radio connection.
The old people’s home also had modern washrooms, a communal kitchen and two apartments for the county welfare worker and a houseparent couple. In June 1928, the house was ready to be moved into. In the house rules we read among other provisions:
“Every person admitted to the retirement home or staying there should always be aware that the retirement home should offer its residents a quiet and content retirement. […] The magistrate decides on the admission after hearing the welfare committee. Only Teltow residents of either sex who are unable to work shall be admitted, provided that they do not require permanent supervision and care.”
The project group JOB (Jugend – Orientierung – Beruf; Youth – Orientation – Work), founded shortly after the Wende (defeat of socialist rule) in 1991, decided to use the Schifferkinderheim in Teltow, by then empty and already approved for demolition, as a new youth centre.
The owners of the Schifferkinderheim donated the property to the town of Teltow and assumed the construction costs for renovation and conversion of the half-timbered house, which is now a listed building. In January 1995, JOB e.V. solemnly opened the new “Schiffer” youth centre.