Heimland was a “völkisch” co-operative settlement which existed from 1908 to 1922. It was influenced by the Garden City movement, the “Lebensreform” movement and by the communal settlement Eden. It was also influenced by the idea, common at that time, of communities of superior germans living on free german soil.
Influenced by these ideas, one of the founders, Theodor Fritsch, an anti-semite, had already written a book, “Die Stadt der Zukunft” (The City of the Future) in 1896. When the commune was founded as a co-operative settlement, “Siedlungsgesellschaft Heimland” on the 18th October 1908 in Leipzig, Fritsch became chairman of the supervisory council. By spring of the same year, 60 people were already willing to start a communal settlement based on Fritsch’s ideas.
In July 1909, the co-operative bought the 450 acre farm at Luhme, near Rheinsberg. The communal land was divided up into two parts, the inner area was for members wanting to work together communally, the outer part was divided up into 50 plots for peasant families to build on and to farm. In 1910, a guest house was set up as a hostel for “Wandervogel” and other hikers and campers.
The emblem of the settlement, designed in 1913, included a swastika, a symbol used by many “völkische” groups at that time.
The community in the war years:
By the start of WW1, only 11 houses had been built on the plots. There was a high fluctuation of members. Alcohol and tobacco were forbidden. The settlers worked for bed and board, got a small amount of pocket money, and were awarded shares in the co-operative, worth 500 Marks, every 3 years. The farm produced Rye, Oats, Potatoes, Fodder-Beet, Vegetables and Strawberries. There were 20 Cows and 50 Pigs. There were hardly any women in the community.
The war meant the start of the decline of the community. Many of the men either volunteered or were called up for military service (only four returned alive!).
The end of the community:
Despite attempts to revive the community with a couple of new projects (a “german” children’s home and a setlement school), Heimland never really recovered from the decline experienced in the war years. The land was poor and the harvests disappointing. The period of increasing inflation lead to the end of the settlement. In april 1922, the settlement was abandonned and the land and some buildings rented out. In August 1926, the co-operative went into liquidation, although it took until 1936 before all the members got their money back.
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