German Young Pioneers: Program

German Young Pioneers
Figure 1.--These East German Pioneerrs are saluting the East German leaders, including Eric Honecker in 1976. Notice how the Pioneers salute, similar to a NAZI salute, but with the hand held differently.

The purpose Freie Deutsche Jugend (FDJ) and its Pioneer youth sections was to instill Socialist ideology in the children. Like all youth groups, the Pioneer program consisted of a range of youth activities to either instil Socialist thought or to make the program interesting for the children. Some argue that this was no different than Scouting. There was, however, major differences. Scouting sought to promote universal values such as honesty, morality, family, religion, and others. The East German youth movement was controlled by the Communist Party and promoted the Socialist ideology of the Party. This included some of the universal values of Scouting, but not all. Morality in the Communist world was redefined as whatever promoted the class struggle and the defeat of Communism. This meant police state rule and concentration camps. Children were incouraged to report on their parents, although we are unsure to what extent this occurred. The class-struggle definitiin of morality is also why Communist regimes (Cambodia, China, North Korea, and the Soviet Union, were willing to kill or tolerate deaths in large numbers. And it is why membership was essentially compulsory and the parents exclude from the program. Whule the Scouting program was non-political. The German youth program was highly politicized and involved telling the children how to think about political issues. The children would meet in school after regular classes in the the afternoon. The activities at these meetings varies. We have few actual accounts. There seem to have been some games, but our information is limited. For the younger children there was a kind of myth-like presentation of socilist ideology. The Pioneer leaders conducted carefully guided discussions. There was also a deggree of pagentry and building of traditions. Many children seem to have considered thr program as a continuation of school and would have preferred free plat time at home. Many children went tp Pioneer summer camps. The program promoted a degree of internationalism, at least with other Pioneers in other Socialist countries.


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Created: 12:41 AM 6/14/20071
Last updated: 12:41 AM 6/14/2007