The Pestalozzi Children’s Village

The Pestalozzi Children’s Village Foundation (Stiftung Kinderdorf Pestalozzi) in Trogen (Canton of Appenzell Ausserhoden) was founded in 1946. The foundation is active in 13 countries on four continents for 150 000 children since 1982. 

The background to the idea was the wartime suffering of children during the Second World War. The children’s village aimed to provide shelter and a new life for European war children and orphans.

The philosopher Walter Robert Corti (1910-1990), editor of the cultural magazine Du, launched an appeal in the August 1944 issue to establish a village where 8 000 children would have a home in the spirit of “global friendship”.

Eighteen friends founded an action committee to realise this plan. The committee decided to build 15 to 30 homes in a children’s village.

On 3 March 1946, the Trogen municipal council unanimously decided to hand over 4.5 hectares of land to the Pestalozzi Children’s Village Foundation.

The construction work started on 2 May 1946. Volunteers from all over Europe initially built the first houses. The village for children and their adult supervisors was gradually realised in the following years.

The children grew older, and by the end of the 1950s, there was a need for a school for pupils aged 13 to 15. This school building was completed in 1960.

The religious house, Andachtshaus, was built in 1967 in the architecture of the Swiss Protestant church. This building was a gift from the British royal family and was open to all religions and faith communities.

Today, with its Appenzeller, modern and church architecture, the Children’s Village is a cohesive settlement and monument of national significance.

The value of the Village lies not only in its cultural-historical significance but also in Switzerland’s pedagogy and humanitarian aid after the Second World War.

On its 75th anniversary, the Pestalozzi Foundation is organising guided tours and an (interactive) exhibition in the village about the project’s past, present, and future, including children’s drawings and photos of the period 1946-present and (historical) documents.

(Source: U. Habegger, Das Kinderdorf Pestalozzi, GSK Bern, 2020;