Gerhard Schmidt-Grillmeier


Short Survey of the History of the Cleveland International Fellowship in Germany e.V. – an Organisation to Promote International Exchanges for 

Youth Leaders and Social Workers


„My life was saved. I want to dedicate my life to assuring that something like the Holocaust never happens again. People, especially youth must learn 

early to respect religious, racial or other differences, understand each other and to live together.” (Henry B. Ollendorff as remembered by his wife 



1.        Introduction – Henry B. Ollendorff

2.        History of the Cleveland International Program (CIP)

3.        The Cleveland International Fellowship (CIF)

4.        The Cleveland International Fellowship in Germany (CIF/G)

5.        Appendix



Translation : Gisela Senssfelder

This survey was written by Gerhard Schmidt (CIP-participant in 1971) with the assistance of Gisela Senssfelder (1957). Anita Gerdes (1958) and 

Herbert Schüttler (1968) gave further information.


Berlin, Mai/May 2001



1. Introduction – Henry B. Ollendorff.


 The thoughts which Martha Ollendorff wrote down for the CIF World News of August 1999 explain in a few words what the Cleveland International 

Fellowship signifies.

From the experience to have to leave his home country Germany Henry devoted his life to the above claimed principles.

Heinz Ollendorff, born 1907 as the son of  an oculist in the town of Esslingen/Württemberg grew up in the City of Darmstadt . After finishing his studies 

he received his doctor’s degree in law from the University of Heidelberg in 1929.

While studying in Berlin he met his future wife Martha, they got married in 1934. The racial discrimination laws in National Socialist Germany severely 

hindered him in his juridical work. He even spent 13 months in solitary confinement but was finally acquitted from the charge. He left Germany in 1938, 

his wife followed in 1939, both became American citizens. After studying again, this time Social Work in New York , Henry worked with underprivileged 

children in Cleveland/Ohio.                                         

Friends all over the world bewailed the death of Henry B. Ollendorff an February 10th 1979 . The memorial service took place in the St. Paul`s Church

of Cleveland Heights on February 13th 1979. Henry is buried in Cleveland.


2. History of the Cleveland International Program (CIP).


In 1954 the US Department of State asked Henry B. Ollendorff to go to Germany to participate there in the re-education program. Henry conducted 

courses for youth leaders and social workers at Haus Schwalbach/ Taunus for five months. Working with these young people made him think to start 

an exchange program – for the time being for young Germans only.


His plan was approved by the German Ministry of Youth which offered to pay for travel costs and also contribute to the expenses in the US . For 

several years the German Fulbright Commission added another five travel grants. Henry’s idea was largely backed by the citizens of Cleveland, many 

offered to become host families. The American government also approved of the program and made money available.


Henry flew to Germany to select the first 25 participants for the program; these travelled to the US by boat in 1956 in order to get to know life in a 

free society and then pass their experiences on to young people at home. At the suggestion of his pioneer group the program was extended to include 

participants from other countries. The “Cleveland International Program” (since 1965 “Council of International Programs”) was born. Cleveland/Ohio 

became the seat of the organisation.


In 1958 the German federal government began to offer a program in Germany for American colleagues. The French government followed 1965 with a 

similar program.


3. The Cleveland International Fellowship (CIF).


CIF was founded during the international conference in Hamburg on November 6th 1960 and incorporated as a non-profit association on May 26th 1964

(Official Register of Associations with the Stuttgart Civil Court 1636 – new – under No. 1). According to German law the explanation “Organisation to 

Promote International Exchanges for Youth Leaders and Social Workers” had to be added. The by-laws were formulated in German and English – 

the German version was binding. Later it was renamed “Council of International Fellowship”.


The first CIF emblem was designed during the Hamburg conference by John Berge, Norway and Rolf Örjes, Sweden .


The international secretariat of CIF was located in Germany from 1960 to 1971, transferred to Sweden in 1971 but returned again to Germany in 1979 

and was newly registered at the Bonn Registration Court on June 28th 1979 under No. 4396. The news letter “Cleveland International” is older than CIF; 

the first edition was mailed by Marlies Hornberger and Gisela Senssfelder (both CIP participants of 1957) in 1959.


4. The Cleveland International Fellowship in Germany (CIF/G).


In the beginning CIF/G was the most active of all CIF groups, and standing international comparison also had the largest membership. 93 out of a total 

of 148 CIP participants joined the organisation immediately, 1963 there were 127 members, 1970 even 170, in 2000 there were 132 paying members. 

The annual membership fee at present is DM 50,-- and in 2001 will be € 30. In 1971 the German section – so far without its own statutes – took over 

the old international by-laws and added the abbreviation “G”.


CIP participants organised the first international conferences: 1958 in Henry’s home town Darmstadt , 1959 at Burg Liebenzell/Black Forest and 1960 in

Hamburg. The first conference organised by CIF took place in Dassel/Solling in 1962 and was made of a five-day seminar followed by a weekend reunion. 

In 1964 the Dutch group organised a conference in the Netherlands , the first one outside of Germany . CIF/G organised three more international 

conferences, those commemorating the 5th, 10th and 20th anniversary of CIF: 1965 in Königstein/Taunus, 1975 in Berlin and 1980 once more in 

Königstein/Taunus. The first five conferences were fully financed by the German Ministry of Youth, participants only had to bear their travel expenses.


German CIP participants actively cared for the American colleagues who visited Germany under the reverse program. For several years Anita Gerdes, 

later on Werner Jahnke, accompanied the guests during the entire program. They were granted leave of absence from their employers for three months 

each time; their salaries were paid by the Federal Government of Germany. During their field work in different German states (Länder) CIP participants 

or CIF members cared for the visitors on an honorary basis, invited them into their homes and arranged weekend programs.


German CIF members took active part in the international CIF work: Helmut Oeckl acted as president from 1991 –1993, Adolf W. Pilgrim (1961-1968) 

and Siegfried Grommek (1975-1980) were treasurers and Gisela Senssfelder (1960-1971), Sigrid Herzog (1975-1980) and Helmut Oeckl (1989-1991) 

were secretary general, resp.secretary.


It is also worth mentioning that in 1989 Herbert Schüttler could look back to 30 years of reliable work as treasurer of CIF/G.


Aims and objectives of CIF were and are:      

-          to keep relations between participants through personal contacts, conferences and reunions, and the publication of the “Cleveland International”; to 

      provide possibilities for in-service training and the exchange of professional experiences;

-          to assist the CIP in recruiting and selecting new participants for the program;

-          to facilitate technical assistance by participants in the professional areas of youth  and social work in developing countries;                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

-          to sponsor the invitation of American youth and social workers to countries participating in the CIP.


There is also to note that according to the notice received by the Bochum Süd Revenue Office tax privileges were granted for the following:

-          promotion of education, elementary and vocational training including student help;

-          promotion of international ways of thinking, tolerance towards all fields of culture and the idea of international understanding.


Under German law a membership meeting must take place once a year; a German meeting is arranged between the international conferences with a 

professional program and election of the new board members.


End of the sixties the German Ministry of Youth en- trusted the Victor-Gollancz-Stiftung with the selection of German participants for the American 

program as well as with the planning and conducting of the reverse program. Unfortunately this institution went bankrupt; the Arbeitsgemeinschaft für 

Jugendhilfe AGJ (Standing Conference of Statutory and Voluntary Child and Youth Service Agencies) took over. A personal contact to the participants 

in the CIP was no longer given.


Now CIF/G is planning to have an own German program.


Next to the official activities the human togetherness is most important. Whenever foreign visitors do come it is normally easy to find hosts for them and

to organise a tourist or professional program.