The Fountain House
The Fountain House
In 1948 the world was drowned in the social problems of the aftermath of the second world war, mainly the countless multitudes of ’displaced persons’. In Europe most of these were of course Jews, and the problem was so overwhelming, that there was no option but to place them in concentration camps, so called Displaced Person Camps, naturally not like the Nazi camps but all the same behind barbed wire, waiting for the problem to be resolved, which it wasn’t in Europe, as long as Prime Minister Clement Attlee of Britain and his foreign secretary Ernest Bevin refused to allow more than a very limited number of Jewish immigrants into Palestine, not to upset the Arabs, who had oil. Chief responsible for these post-war concentration camps was general Patton, who enforced the confinement of these people behind barbed wire, expressing the view that such people only could be treated as cattle.
Only president Truman had some human views on the situation, who insisted on Palestine being opened to unlimited immigration. The labour government of Britain was equally insistent on refusing this. Instead, more and more of the displaced persons of Europe saw America as their only possibility.
Of course, they were not less displaced over there, and Ernest Bevin cynically attributed the American insistence on the opening of Palestine to the Americans being themselves unwilling to accept the displaced persons, but America did actually take care of them. One of those umbrella organizations was the Fountain House, who in this very year had their first premises opened on 47th Street in New York, which still are their headquarters, the same year in which all the eastern European states were engulfed by the Soviet Union as satellites together with North Korea and Israel finally reached independence and could be opened to free immigration.
The activities of the Fountain House had started already in 1940 by a kind of patients’ upheaval in a mental asylum (Rockland State Hospital in New York), where the patients joined hands to help each other back to a normal life by getting themselves discharged and into work. They called themselves We Are Not Alone (after the novel with the same title by James Hilton), and their basic principle has always remained the same through all the years – to help each other by helping themselves. The corner stone is to constantly remain in touch with each other and look after each other – solidarity between victims of society and circumstances.
In that way they have nothing to do with any kind of politics or religion, and the activities are not about rehabilitation or health care of any kind. Instead, focus is on those who simply have got lost or met with misfortune, getting stuck in the meaningless blind alleys and vicious circles of the fatal and lethal, arbitrary and soulless bureaucracy of the Kafka society. The individual initiative is underscored as most important of all to regain, when it has been imperilled or eliminated by outer circumstances, and you’ll notice how much more the human dignity is upheld at the Fountain House and its so much safer environment than in society. ICCD (”International Center for Clubhouse Development”, 425 West 47th Street, New York,) has in fact become advisor to the UN and is the only international organization in this field with the possibility to directly influence the secretariat of the UN and governments by expertise advice and partakes in the sessions of ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council of the United Nations).
Their number are increasing,
all those victims,
not only of society,
but more and more of circumstances
of no accountability for anyone.
They drift along, get lost,
but there is always somewhere
someone waiting for them,
even in your utmost loneliness
you never are alone,
and even if you are,
the crowds of ghosts and memories
are always there reminding you
that you can never separate from life
and least of all by suicide.
There is a fountainhead
that never stops to flow
and keep the current running
of the ever vitally expanding life,
and even if you feel unique about your fate,
you can be certain there are others sharing it.
The problem is, you never are yourself,
but all the life in all the universe
depends on you, for you are part of it.
– a tribute to "the Fountain House", or, "The International Center for Clubhouse Development" (ICCD), 425 West 47th Street, New York, now an international network with centers practically everywhere and advisor to the UN (ECOSOC unit).