History (1947-1962)

Friedehorst was founded on 19 September 1947. The American military hospital on the former “Wehrmacht” area in Bremen-Lesum was cleared by the American forces and then handed over to the “Innere Mission” according to an agreement a few days earlier. This agreement was mainly initiated by Dr. Eldon Burke, who was responsible for the coordination of American relief supplies via the Bremen ports. In the Potsdam resolutions had been set down that former property of the German “Wehrmacht” should be destroyed. As the hospital had formerly belonged to the “Wehrmacht”, too, it also should have been torn down. Yet Burke was a good Christian and thus - facing the need and poverty of the people of this town which had been destroyed by 60 % - he intervened to maintain the buildings and to make them available for health and charity purposes.

Even after the foundation of Friedehorst Burke supported the expansion works by procuring donations of food, clothes etc. A simple wooden crucifix in the Friedehorst church, built by the American forces for their own military spiritual welfare, represents one of the many significant artifacts that has remained from that time. A donation of 100 m3 Swedish birch wood by the American Brethren Church had enabled its production.

The renovation and restructuring of the buildings for the new peaceful use began with great difficulties. Structurally the houses were in bad condition: The roofs were leaking, the floors were rotten and there was hardly any furniture or heating. However, despite all these difficulties, the Christian responsibility for the many people in urgent need of help was stronger.

The first Christmas in Friedehorst was celebrated by approximately 50 people. These were either homeless or injured soldiers, who had lived in an auxiliary bunker before, or bombed out residents of an old people`s home, of the “Marthasheim” and the “Dorotheenheim”, which had been taken over by Friedehorst. Many of them supported the build-up phase with manual and domestic works. Training workshops were established to enable ex-servicemen to learn a new civil profession. One part of the institution was placed at the disposal of the Protestant deaconesses` home which used it at first as a ward for tuberculosis patients and later as an orthopaedic clinic of renown.

Due to the growing number of tasks it became necessary to create an individual office for the management of Friedehorst. The first managing director, Pastor Heinrich Johannes Diehl, was appointed on 1 August 1948 and stayed in office until 1980.

According to an agreement made in September 1947 the right of use for the area and the buildings originally was limited to a period of 5 years. A further limited lease contract allowed the continuation of the previous work. Based on this contract, the facilities which had been founded on the basis of need during the post-war years could be modified and adjusted to the changing requirements. Simultaneously, the continuing improvement of the buildings and of the quality of living was evident by the development of qualified care, treatment and training facilities.

In 1956, long before legal rules were established in this context, Friedehorst was the first institution in Northern Germany offering training courses to qualify employees for the nursing of elderly people.

The expertise in the professional qualification of ex-servicemen justified the set-up of training courses for the special needs of young disabled people. In 1957, a vocational education center (“Berufsbildungswerk”) was established together with an apprentices` hostel.

At the same time, a residential building, a therapeutic unit and a special school were built up. After expiration of the lease contract in 1962, the final step towards the long-term existence of Friedehorst was taken by the purchase of the property. The Bremen Protestant Church donated half of the purchase price to Friedehorst, while the other half was provided by the capital market. Thus, the legal independence was realized by the foundation of a separate, autonomous organization, “Friedehorst – Vereinigte Anstalten der Inneren Mission e.V.” (an incorporated society).