This introductory chapter begins with a brief discussion of how throughout the 20th century, the government and political movements in Germany sought to win over the young generation to their ideological cause. It then focuses on the founding of the Free German Youth (FDJ) as a ‘non-partisan, united, and democratic youth organization’. It discusses the limitations of a one-sided ‘Stalinization’ approach to the FDJ's early years, which serves as an effective starting point for one of the central premises of this book: namely, that the FDJ's experiences during the fifties and sixties wholly discredit the ‘totalitarian’ paradigm as a valid means of explaining and understanding the character of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany's (SED) dictatorship.
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