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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 Prague Spring

The FDJ and the Prague Spring

Chapter:
(p.202) 5 The FDJ and the Prague Spring
Source:
Youth Politics in East Germany
Author(s):

ALAN McDOUGALL

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199276271.003.0006

In the GDR, two events provided a real test of the ‘68ers’ — part of the young generation that had been ‘born into socialism’ — loyalty to the East German state. These two events dominated the FDJ's agenda in 1968. The youth organization first played a prominent role in the campaign for a new socialist constitution in the GDR, which came into effect on 9 April after extensive public debate and a subsequent plebiscite. Attention then turned to the radical reform programme being undertaken under the leadership of Alexander Dubček in the neighbouring Socialist Republic of Czechoslovakia (ČSSR). The FDJ's zeal in supporting SED policy against this communist-inspired flowering of reform (widely known as the Prague Spring) was unequivocal, both before and after Warsaw Pact troops invaded Czechoslovakia on 21 August. This chapter shows that the extent of ideological ‘uncertainty’ about both the new constitution and, in particular, the Prague Spring highlighted the fact that for all its organizational improvements since the near collapse of June 1953, the FDJ was still a long way from instilling the desired sense of ‘socialist consciousness’ in all young East Germans in 1968.

Keywords:   Socialist Republic of Czechoslovakia, East German state, socialism, youth organization

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