History of Schule Schloss Salem

The Kurt Hahn Archive and a journey through time

In the 1960s Jocelin Winthrop-Young began to compile the Kurt Hahn Archive. With approximately 140 metres of written records, it forms the central archive dedicated to the educator Kurt Hahn and Schule Schloss Salem; the oldest documents date back to the foundation phase of the School in 1919/20.

The collection comprises political and educational writings by and about Kurt Hahn (letters, memoranda, speeches etc.), and also material about Schule Schloss Salem, Gordonstoun, Outward Bound, United World Colleges, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, Trevelyan Scholarships and information on other organizations which follow Kurt Hahn's ideas on education, such as Round Square and the Kurt Hahn Trust.

Since 2011 the Kurt Hahn Archive has been curated as an autonomous collection (depository) within the County Archives at Salem Castle; it remains the property of Schule Schloss Salem. 
A large portion of the holdings are indexed. Inquiries should be directed to the Kurt Hahn Archives via email or telephone and visits arranged by appointment.


Brigitte Mohn M. A. 

Schloss Salem, 88682 Salem 

Telefon: +49 (0) 7541 204-6419
Fax: +49 (0) 7541 204-8904

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Office hours Monday to Thursday; visits by appointment only.

Below you will find a short journey through the history of Schule Schloss Salem with the most important events since it was founded in 1919:

1920 - 1933

Schule Schloss Salem was founded in April 1920 by Prince Max von Baden, his advisor Kurt Hahn, and the well-known educator Karl Reinhardt in Salem.

From the beginning the founders gave their co-educational school a decidedly reformist profile which, despite some necessary modernizing of educational precepts and teaching methods, still guides its course and principles today.

Challenging learning situations, age-appropriate experiential education, and the concept of learning to take on responsibility through service to the community and active participation in the school community were and are the core elements of a Salem education.

Kurt Hahn & Prinz Max von Baden
Classroom at Salem Castle
1933 - 1945

In the years of the Nazi regime Salem went through the most difficult period in its history. Kurt Hahn, a Jew, was arrested in March 1933 and in the July of the same year he had to emigrate to England. There he participated in the founding of Gordonstoun, the renowned Scottish boarding school.

Under the prudent direction of Dr. Heinrich Blendinger Salem was able to avoid coming under the influence of the Nazis at first. But in August 1941 the Salem schools came to be supervised by the inspectorate of German boarding schools, and the SS took over the school's management. In July 1945 Schule Schloss Salem was dissolved.

Choir in the summer refectory of Salem Castle
Gordonstoun fire brigade
1945 - 1970

In November 1945 Salem was reopened by Marina Ewald, a former staff member and confidante of Kurt Hahn. Salem was able to take up where it had left off in 1941 under the leadership of a series of heads of school - Prince Georg Wilhelm von Hannover, Axel Freiherr von dem Bussche, Horst Freiherr von Gersdorff and Hartwig Graf von Bernstorff - and consolidate its position in the German educational landscape. In 1950 the Altsalemer Vereinigung (ASV), the alumni association, was re-established.

In 1962, Kurt Hahn founded the first United World College, the UWC of the Atlantic. Staff members of that College, in turn, helped in 1968 to initiate the International Baccalaureate Programme (IB ) which incorporates a program of extracurricular pedagogy as envisioned by Kurt Hahn.
During Kurt Hahn's 80th birthday celebrations in June 1966 one of his first pupils and later pedagogical companions, Jocelin Winthrop-Young,  suggested the founding of an international network among schools which follow Hahn's pedagogical philosophy.  Named after a round barn within the round courtyard of Gordonstoun, it became known as the Round Square. This association of boarding schools all over the world laid an important foundation stone for Salem's internationality, which since the 1990s has found expression in the International Baccalaureate track, in its community of pupils and teachers from over 40 nations, and in the program of 1:1 pupil exchanges with over 50 partner schools on five continents.

Georg Wilhelm Prince von Hannover (former student and Headmaster in Salem)
1970 – 2000

In the early seventies under the headship of Prof. Ilse Lichtenstein-Rother and, from 1974, under Dr. Bernhard Bueb, Salem continued to develop its school structures and pedagogical philosophy. More scholarships were awarded and the number of pupils steadily increased.

In the mid-1980s Salem's future was threatened by the termination of the right of use of Salem castle. In 1996 the family of the Margrave of Baden and the school agreed on a long-term right of use contract. In 1992 the International Baccalaureate was introduced.

In September 2000 the school opened Salem International College in nearby Überlingen. Through investments and with generous donations from alumni amounting  to around 35 million Euros, the College has brought new life to the educational principles of the founding fathers and the idea of internationality.  

Bernhard Bueb & Richard von Weizsäcker (1986)
Schloss Salem
2000 – 2019

At the end of the school years 2004/05, Dr Bernhard Bueb -- who had served for 30 years as Head of Schule Schloss Salem -- together with Dieter Plate, long-time Director of Studies and Deputy Head, stepped down. The occasion was marked by a grand farewell ceremony organized by the board of trustees and alumni association (ASV).

Ingrid Sund, Director of Studies at the Deutsche Schule Paris, assumed the overall headship of the Salem schools until the end of the academic year 2005/06.

From 1 January 2007 to 31 August 2011 Prof. Dr. Dr. Eva Marie Haberfellner served as head of school.

Since August  1, 2012, Bernd Westermeyer, formerly Rector of Schulpforta, a state-run school founded in 1543 in today's Saxony-Anhalt, has held the position of Headmaster of Schule Schloss Salem.

Blick über den Bodensee, im Vordergrund Schloss Spetzgart
Our locations
Schloss Salem
Until the beginning of the 18th century, Salem Castle was the richest Cistercian abbey in southern Germany. The Schule Schloss Salem was founded there in 1920. Not without reason.
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Schloss Spetzgart
On 3 May 1929 Spetzgart Castle was opened as part of Schule Schloss Salem. Together with the Härlen campus it forms the Salem International College.
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Campus Härlen
The Härlen campus was opened in 2000 and, together with Spetzgart Castle, has since formed the Salem International College. The individual room concept offers a unique boarding school life.
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Building Character.
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