Diakonie as it is known today has been existing for about 60 years: As Diakonie which is represented at federal and state level as well as at the level of the deanery districts and municipalities.
But in fact, Diakonie is much older: already in 1848, the "Inner Mission" was founded, at the suggestion of pastor Johann Hinrich Wichern from Hamburg. He wanted to establish an instrument that could fight poverty and pauperisation in large cities. Wichern as well as the Frankonian pastor Wilhelm Löhe can be named as the founding fathers of German Diakonie, and to this day the regional association of Bavarian Diakonie as well as some sponsors carry the term "Inner Mission" in their name.
In the beginning, the focus of welfare and social acting was on people with disabilities and on children or young people. In 1850 the first Diakonie institutions were founded in Erlangen, Hof, Martinsberg and other Bavarian cities. In 1845, the Diakonie institution Neuendettelsau, near by Ansbach, was founded by Wilhelm Löhe - this place is still among the biggest Diakonie sponsors in Bavaria. A new job emerged from being a deaconess, a vocation became a profession. The deaconesses have shaped the image of Diakonie over many decades.
In 1890, the regional office for deacons was founded in Nuremberg, known today as the "Rummelsberger Anstalten". The deacon arises as the male form of the deaconess. In the Third Reich, the Inner Mission subjected its services, being concerned of enforced conformity, to the Bavarian national church. However: Facilities of the Inner Mission partially allowed the euthanasia programme of the Nazi regime and so the killing of "their" disabled people.
In order to alleviate the hardships in the days after the Second World War the Protestant church in Germany ("EKD") establishes the Protestant Aid Organisation in 1945. 13 years later, in 1958, the Aid Organizations and the Inner Mission unite and become what is known today as Diakonie - initially as an overall Diakonie institution of the Protestant church in Germany, then later as single regional assiciations, such as Diakonie Bavaria.
Wichern and Löhe saw the Inner Mission - just as the Protestant church later saw the Protestant Aid Organisation - as the embodiment of Christ´s love to the people, the tool of Christian brotherly love. Thus, it is to this day a manifestation of the character of church: Diakonie is acting faith.