On a walking tour in 1909, in Germany, a thunderstorm forced a teacher and his pupils to shelter in a school. While his pupils slept, their teacher, Richard Schirrmann, dreamed of a network of places where young people might stay.
Afterwards, at home, he turned two classrooms each night into the first youth hostel. Success nearly swamped his idea and in 1912 he opened a permanent youth hostel in a romantic fairy-tale castle.
Others youth hostels followed. Germany had two thousand by 1924. Despite the rise of the Nazis and another world war youth hostels spread to other countries and continents.
Richard Schirrmann never copyrighted his idea, never built it into a brand, never sold it to anyone. He was a volunteer and an amateur in the best sense of the word. Today his invention has spread around the world.
Published: 19 November 2015
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