45th anniversary of IYNF

 PART ONE: IYNF 1975 – 1990

We would like to present the first part of the four part series that celebrates IYNF‘s 45 Year anniversary. Here you will find photos, articles, documents and later also videos that we dug up from our history and archive. This series will not be a retelling of IYNF history from its foundation, but it should give you a glimpse of what IYNF was back in those days. Part one will cover the years between IYNF‘s foundation in 1975 to 1990. We hope you enjoy it.


1976 The Origin Story of IYNF – One Year of International Young Naturefriends (IYNF), a first résumé after 20 years of struggle

This article was published in the magazine „wandern + bergsteigen“ (hiking + mountaineering) in 1976, so 44 years ago. It describes the long way of  IYNF foundation; from international activities organized by Naturefriends Germany to its own international organisation in 1975. Unfortunately, we only could find the first two pages of the article but it seems like most of it is there. Here is a scan of the original version and the English translation. 

One Year of IYNF 1

Picture 1 of 2



The desire for increased cooperation between the European Naturefriends Youth was old. When at Easter 1948 the leading youth leaders of the then ” Working Group of the National Associations of the German Naturefriends” met for the first Interzone Conference, their first priority was the future international work. After “a thousand years” of violent isolation, they recognised the importance of close cooperation with the brother organisations of the European Naturefriends Youth Movement and therefore especially welcomed the reinstatement of the Federal Group of Germany into the Naturefriends International (NFI).

At the beginning of the 1950s, the desire for international cooperation prompted the Naturefriends Youth of Germany to organize numerous international meetings, camps and youth leader training courses; they organized the hunters’ trip in 1951, the camp in Efringen in 1952, the Hagen camp in 1953 and the international youth leader training courses in Heidenheim and Elmstein. The European enthusiasm of the leaders of the German Naturefriends Youth was supported by an just as great enthusiasm of the young members. Some of the NFI countries complained to the Federal Youth Leadership because the stream of young Germans who, with their eagerness to get to know the problems and the commitment of young people from other countries, overcrowded all the Naturefriends houses there, simply did not stop.

At the 1953 NFI Congress in Innsbruck, for instance, a meeting on youth issues was held at the insistence of Germany’s Naturefriends youth, with youth leaders from the Federal Republic of Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Saarland taking part. The German participants came to this meeting with very specific ideas. Their ideas were soon adopted by the other participants. The NFI was called upon to set up a specialist department for youth work and to employ a full-time staff to support this work, to create uniform international youth guidelines, and to intensify youth activities with training courses, meetings and holiday camps.

It was already clear at the time that in the process of creating a united Europe, a voice of the Youth for Naturefriends in the European institutions could only be achieved through the creation of an International of Youth for Naturefriends. The German Young Naturefriends called on all members and officials of the NFI: “Help us to ensure that an International of Young Naturefriends is created as soon as possible!” They began negotiations with the  International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY), UNESCO and the World Assembly of Youth (WAY) to clarify future possibilities of cooperation and influence for a International Young Naturefriends. But with the preparation of these relations, German capacity was at its limit.

The NFI Congress in Innsbruck was a bitter disappointment for the Young Naturefriends. None of the youth’s wishes for the financial and organizational conditions for more intensive and successful international youth work were fulfilled. The NFI Congress could only decide to include a youth expert in the central committee. This first youth expert became the Swiss Sepp Kurzi. He and the German federal youth leadership continue to work intensively to ensure the organizational security of international Naturefriends youth work and to clarify matters with the international youth institutions.

Important initial successes were made. In 1954 the NFI’s Main Committee accepted the most important points of the NFI’s own youth regulations, on the basis of which the NFI’s First International Youth Conference was held that same year. International youth work subsequently experienced a strong upswing. Starting with joint activities in the anniversary year 1955, cooperation intensified in training courses, meetings, publications and activities.  When the European “Youth Ring”, the Council of European National Youth Committees (CENYC), was founded, the Naturefriends youth organizations were later involved in several national committees for international youth work and were able to register their interests.

It soon became clear, however, that the failure to fulfill the most important organizational and material wishes of the youth, which certainly may have been quite far-reaching in detail, hindered the further strengthening of the firm cooperation. While the socialist educational organizations created their own international associations in which they made their own contribution to a socialist and democratic Europe, the Naturefriends Youth remained without a firm international organization of their own. The different political developments in the national Naturefriend Youth organizations made this situation even more difficult. While the German Young Naturefriends, NIVON-Jongen (Netherlands) and the Jongen Natuurvrienden (Belgium-Flanders) understood their work more and more as political work in the 1960s, especially in Austria and Switzerland a strictly touristic work was done, which was based on a clear division of labour between the Socialist Party on the one hand and the leading organizations on the other hand.

New impulses for increased cooperation between the Young Naturefriends in Europe came from the youth revolt at the end of the 1960s and from outside. As progressive youth in Europe increasingly recognised the contradiction between capitalist ideology of freedom and the exploitation of the Third World, a strong awareness of international solidarity developed there. This willingness to cooperate internationally came from solidarity with the international liberation movements and went hand in hand with great enthusiasm with the initial successes of creating a united Europe. Thus, the European institutions, the EEC and the Council of Europe, tried to persuade the youth organisations to participate in the construction of Europe. Behind this was often the intention to change the socialist youth in particular from anti-imperialist solidarity to simple pro-Europeanism.

The EEC’s Hague Appeal for the involvement of young people led to the creation of a “European Secretariat for Liaison of Youth Organizations”, which was strongly financed by the EEC, at the beginning of 1969. Trade union youth organizations and socialist youth organizations working in this office recognised the need to influence the “reality” of the EEC, but at the same time called for a clear thrust of cooperation between youth internationals against a Europe of capital. The organizational consequence of the demands of the workers’ youth organization for the revolutionisation of society, for more humane, democratic and just development is the reconstitution of the liaison office in March 1973 as the independent “European Coordination Bureau of the Youth International” soon represents the interests of the youth together with CENYC, the European umbrella organization of the national youth rings, towards the newly emerging youth institutions of the European Council. Extensive rights of co-determination can be achieved;- the boards of trustees of the European Youth Office and the European Youth Centre (both started work in 1972) will become something half shared financial limits for international youth work can now be extended.  Because of the obvious advantages of cooperation, individual national Young Naturefriend organizations, followed in 1973 by the International Youth Committee of the NFI, turn to the European Co-ordination Bureau of International Youth Organizations (BEC).

In 1974 the NFI International Youth Committee joins the BEC and immediately provides its Vice President. Thanks to the support of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) in particular, the European Youth Office was able to obtain major subsidies for administration and activities for the first time in 1974. The Council of Europe’s financial support for the twenty-year-old demand of the Naturefriends Youth for their own International now receives strong support from the Council of Europe.

In 1974 the NFI International Youth Committee joins the BEC and immediately provides its Vice President. Thanks to the support of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) in particular, the European Youth Office was able to obtain major subsidies for administration and activities for the first time in 1974. The Council of Europe’s financial support for the twenty-year-old demand of the Naturefriends Youth for their own International now receives strong support from the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe’s financial support for the youth organizations of the NFI’s own responsibility is thus decisively invalidated, especially since it is generally recognized that such public funds are not only due to the other youth organizations, but of course also to the Young Naturefriends. In September 1973, the International Youth Committee decided to give the youth work of the Naturefriends International a new form which would enable the Naturefriends Youth to be employed and subsidized by the European Institutions. These efforts were supported by the will of the most important Naturefriends Youth organizations to realize the long proven autonomy of the youth in their national organizations. After long negotiations in the IJA and with the NFI, the International Youth Conference in March 1975 in Amsterdam adopted guidelines which had initially been approved, the NFI Presidium later demanded numerous changes, which above all concerned the influence and control possibilities of the adults. Only an ad hoc commission at the 9th NFI Congress in Innsbruck in September 1975 – the last date on which IYNF could be founded if it was not to be postponed for another three years – succeeded in presenting the NFI Congress with a unanimously approved draft directive. An extraordinary International Youth Conference, called for this purpose immediately after the NFI Congress in Innsbruck, constituted the International Young Naturefriends (IYNF). Already in the preparatory phase of the founding of IYNF and all the more intensively thereafter, international youth work could be expanded decisively. In addition to providing regular information and consultations with the countries, the financing and implementation of the project was successful.

1979 Header of IYNF with logo etc.

Here you can have a look at the „Visual Identity“ in 1979.

1982 Naturefriends house price listing

In the next picture, you can see A Promotion of an Italian Naturefreinds house in German. In the time before the Euro, you still paid in Lira. Attached are both, the original version and also the English translation, just click on the picture. :)

1982 NFD magazine

       This is the cover of „Wander+bergsteigen“ from the German Naturefriends. The article „One Year of International Young Naturefriends (IYNF), a first résumé after 20 years of struggle“ was published in one of the issues 6 years prior. Again,in two pictures you can see the original and newly created English translation.

1983 Participants list

After not receiving any financial support from the European Economic Community (the predecessor of the European Union) in 1983, IYNF was invited to the Commission to get educated on the new structures of financial support for Youth Organizations.

Here you can see the participants list of the delegation. It looks very similar to the ones we use today.

1988 First contact with YEE?

We are not 100% sure but it sounds like it. This would mean IYNF and YEE are friends for over 30 years!

Transcription here:




to whom it may concern,

Here you have some info about our organisation.

Can we please have some info about yours! Plus a report on the meeting you had in the EYC in nov. ‘87? Thanks in advance!



                                                                                                            Jessica Kips YEE-Secretary


This project turned out more time-consuming than we thought at first. Going through the IYNF archive, finding interesting materials to share, scanning, translating, making graphics takes a long time. We will continue with the series until the end of the year and want to publish an article every month. If you have any comments, ideas of feedback for the 30 years yet to come you can write to us on our social media or to frank@iynf.org. Thanks for making it all the way to the end!

 Frank Hoppe