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Youth Politics in East GermanyThe Free German Youth Movement 1946-1968$
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Alan McDougall

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199276271

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199276271.001.0001

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The FDJ and the Crises in the Soviet Bloc in 1956

The FDJ and the Crises in the Soviet Bloc in 1956

(p.68) 2 The FDJ and the Crises in the Soviet Bloc in 1956
Youth Politics in East Germany


Oxford University Press

By the mid-fifties the GDR's status seemed more secure than ever. The June 1953 uprising had finally prompted the Soviet Union to give its unequivocal support to the beleaguered East German state. This chapter shows that one of the biggest concerns for the SED regime was the field of youth policy, particularly the unsatisfactory position of the FDJ. Despite its ineffectiveness during the June uprising, and the subsequent flurry of criticism aimed at its leadership during the autumn of 1953, the youth organization showed little sign of achieving a breakthrough in its mass political work during the ensuing eighteen months. The year 1955 marked the first concerted attempt to broaden the FDJ's appeal through the development of a more flexible and varied youth programme. Yet, less than two years later, the FDJ had abandoned all reform initiatives and was openly proclaiming itself ‘the socialist youth organization of the GDR’. The dramatic course of events in the intervening period encompassed the stuttering implementation of new youth policy initiatives, the fall-out from political turmoil elsewhere in the Soviet bloc, and widespread student unrest in the GDR in late 1956. It showed clearly for the first time the difficulties of reforming the East German youth organization along more tolerant and pluralistic lines within the existing confines of the SED dictatorship.

Keywords:   East German youth, Soviet Union, youth policy

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