Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 27

Friedrich Ludwig Jahn - Contribution to sports

physical gymnasia

Physical educationist, born in Lanz, NEC Germany. After studying at Halle, Göttingen, and Greifswald, he became a teacher and began a programme of physical exercise for his students, inventing most of the equipment that is now standard in gymnasia. He opened the first gymnasium (Turnplatz) in Berlin in 1811. An ardent nationalist, he commanded a volunteer corps in the Napoleonic Wars (1813–15), then returned to teaching, publishing Die deutsche Turnkunst (1816, trans A Treatise on Gymnastics), but the gymnasia became centres for political gatherings, and they were closed in 1818. He was arrested in 1819, and suffered five years' imprisonment. He is acknowledged as ‘the father of gymnastics’.

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