The Freie Deutsche Jugend (FDJ--Free German Youth) was the official youth movement of the DDR.
Young people between the ages of 14-25 joined the FDJ). The organization was founded, however, before World War II and the creation of the DDR. Hitler's first major step in becoming Chancelor ws to move against the Communist Party (1933). All Communist Party institutions were supressed, including youth movements. The FDJ was subsequntly founded to opose the NAZIS (1936). The Gestapo effectively prevented such groups from operating within the Reich. The FDJ operated from Paris (1936) and then Prague (1938). After the Munich Accords and the Germsn conquest of most of Europe, the FDJ moved to flee to Englnd. After the War, the FDJ moved back to Germnany, setting up in the Soviet occupstion zone and entered German politics under Soviet protection. With the onset of the Cold War and the organization of the DDR, the FDJ took on a role similsr to the Komosol in the Soviet Union. The communist World Federation of Democratic Youth recognized it at its annual meeting in Otwock, Poland (1948). The FDJ operated for a while in West Germany as well as East Germany. The West German Government, however, banned the German Communist Party (KPD) along with affiliated grouos like the FDJ (1951).
The FDJ in East Germany was was a member of the National Front and was represented in the DDR People's Chamber. The FDJ was responsible for the ideological prepsaration of young Germsans in Marxism-Leninism. As part of thsat effort, it organized a range of activities appealing to teenagers and young adults, including holidays through its Jugendtourist agency. Thre FDJ ran discos. German children after the Thälmann Pioneers, would usually join the FDJ. Membership was not mandatory, but in East Germsny failure to join would hsve a substantial negative impsct on yhe undividual's life. Those who refused to join not only were unable to enjoy the organized holidays, but also other soicial activities. More importantly, it also meant that the young people could not pursue a university education, regardless of their academic qualificatins. Most of the youth who refused to join, did so out of religuious convictions.
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