The Founding of the Deutsche Internationale Schule Johannesburg
Sportshall 1902 (click to enlarge)
School in Hillbrow around 1900 (click to enlarge)
Class 4, 1902 (click to enlarge)
Sportshall in Hillbrow around 1900
The DSJ is almost as old as Johannesburg. The city was founded in 1886 and four years later Pastor Kuschke started teaching.
The many Germans who came to Johannesburg with the Gold Rush wanted a school where their children could be taught German. In 1888 the German community of Johannesburg started establishing a school. A serious economic crisis in 1889, however, thwarted their ambitious plans soon after their first school committee meeting.
Nevertheless, Pastor Kuschke did not give up. In 1890, in his home and later in the church of the Berlin Missionary Society, he started teaching one pupil, namely Ernst Ritter, son of church-board member J. Ritter. At the end of 1891 the learner numbers had increased to a modest 20 learners who were taught the following subjects: religion, German, English, Dutch, arithmetic, natural history, world history, geography, singing, drawing and physical training.
The prospects for Johannesburg's economy and the more or less 4000 Germans who had in the meantime settled there improved. Businessmen collected and donated so much money that in 1897 building work could commence on a large school in Hillbrow, one of the most respectable suburbs of the city. Mrs Mathilde Rolfe laid the foundation stone on 4 April 1897.
The main problem the Deutsche Schule zu Johannesburg had to face during the following decades was a lack of money. However, German businessmen collected so much money on their trips to Germany and within the South African German community that the school could not only start with 200 learners, but could constantly expand and improve.
The German School from the First World War to the Second World War
The German School reached a low during World War I. Because many of its teachers were interned, the school was closed and the school building had to be leased to the government. When the school reopened in 1922, there were only ten learners and three teachers, but due to popular activities like sport and music more learners and teachers were attracted and finances improved. In 1934 the number of learners increased to 130, allowing the school to be reinstated as a secondary school, but it only reached matric status and became a high school in 1942. The school's political and financial obstacles during the war were overcome thanks to the tireless input of Mr W. Vogts who almost single-handedly managed school-board matters throughout two world wars and in 1945 created the conditions for an upswing. Mr Vogts dedicated more than 40 years of his life to the school. Above all, he prevented the German School from degenerating into a national socialist institution. The DSJ was truly his life-work.
From Hillbrow to Parktown: a new era for the German School
|Deutsche Schule Parktown, around 1970 (click to enlarge)|
Deutsche Schule Parktown, around 1970 (click to enlarge)
A wave of immigration after World War II also brought many Germans to South Africa. The fast-growing number of learners (1963: 540 learners) outgrew the facilities of the German School and created pedagogical and organisational difficulties. The inner-city traffic became unbearable. Twice a week sport lessons had to be taught in distant Mountain View on the Deutsche Turnverein's sport grounds. In 1969, under the principalship of Mr P. Adami, the first headmaster from the Federal Republic of Germany, the school's move from Edith Cavell Street in Hillbrow to Sans Souci Street in Parktown heralded a new era for the German School. Learner numbers grew from 902 in 1971 to 1257 in 1976 so that even the new school in Parktown soon reached full capacity and had to be extended. Through initiatives of the school's own, generous donations and regular collections a new storey could be built above the music room and library; extensions could be made for a workshop; the administrative wing could be enlarged; and more classrooms could be added. Construction on the DSJ site seemed to continue forever.
On the way towards becoming an integrated school: 1979 to 1990
Parallel with the DSJ's spatial extensions was the expansion of the pedagogic realm. In 1979 the first pre-school learners were enrolled at the German School; a year later the first steps were taken towards integration; and at the end of 1983 the first Abitur exam was conducted at the DSJ. In the meantime school attendance had risen to 1400. A- and B-streams, both leading up to matric, were implemented to accommodate different aptitudes. The Federal Republic of Germany's assumption of responsibility for all costs led to the introduction of the German-as-foreign-language stream in 1989. This stream mainly accommodates South African learners. Gradually these learners are slotted in with the German-as-mother-tongue learners until, in grade 10, all subjects with the exception of German are taught together. The German School regards the concept of integration of cultures and religions as a basis for ongoing and peaceful coexistence.
In 1996 learners from the New Secondary School for the first time successfully passed matric and in 1997 the first three NSS-learners passed the Abitur with excellent results.