FREIE DEUTSCHE JUGEND
THE FREE GERMAN YOUTH
GUARANTOR OF POLITICAL RELIABILITY IN THE NVA
According to law, the FDJ was jointly responsible with the GST for pre-military training, particularly for political training. The FDJ was founded in 1946 and organized youth between ages 14 and 25. Even after members entered the service, the FDJ organizations in units oversaw their off-duty time and ensured they maintained proper socialist values. Political reliability was taught through participation in ceremonies and was incorporated in lectures and other events in the FDJ program. In 1980, FDJ members accounted for 80 percent of all NVA officers and long-term enlisted personnel. For those wishing to become officers in the NVA, an endorsement by their local FDJ organization was an unofficial, but nonetheless real requirement. The following article presents the East German propaganda view of the FDJ. – Editorial Comments in the original article
The Free German Youth organization – “FREIE DEUTSCHE JUGEND” (FDJ) was founded on 7 March, 1946 as a united antifascist and democratic youth organization. It sees itself is the successor to the German working—class youth movement, in particular the Communist Youth League and the organizations of young antifascists fighting Nazism, with its longstanding revolutionary traditions and progressive heritage. The FDJ made a valuable contribution towards helping to overcome the influence of fascist and Nazi ideology on the young generation and to mobilize it for the active participation in the antifascist and democratic transformations and the socialist revolution.
A fundamental principle of the country’s youth policy is to place complete confidence in young people and to give them responsibility. At its 1st Congress in 1946, the FDJ adopted the Principles and aims of the younger generation. The first “Youth Act of 1950” made the fundamental rights legally binding on the basis of the Constitution of 1949. Challenges to the younger generation continued to grow with the further development of socialism and new opportunities opened up. Two new versions of the “Youth Act” which were enacted in 1964 and 1974 took account of this. The present “Youth Act” enables every young person to freely and creatively develop his or her talents, gifts and personality.
In its activities, the FDJ aims to familiarize the younger generation with the revolutionary traditions of the working class, with the history of the GDR, the SED and the FDJ. It mobilizes all boys and girls to give of their very best for the general good of the country and the maintenance of peace.
The FDJ, as the united and independent youth organization of the GDR, represents the interests of the country s young people. Its membership is about 2.3 million which is three-quarters of all young people. The Ernst Thãlmann Pioneers’ Organization is the FDJ’s children’s organization and caters for the interests of the six to fourteen-year-olds.
With their impressive performance levels and work output, the young people of the GDR are helping to further develop society, implement its economic and social policies, and master the scientific and technological revolution. A total of 45,000 youth teams are working in selected key areas of the economy on central or local youth projects for whose successful implementation they are solely responsible. Three-quarters of FDJ members take part in the “Young Innovators Movement”. With the advent of state-of-the-art technology, the FDJ set up youth research teams in the early 1980s in order to cope with the new challenges.
The FDJ has also developed its own forms of artistic activity, such as the song movement, the youth clubs, the “Young Talents Movement”, the “Festival of Youth Theatre”, literature and other arts competitions, to mention just a few examples from the wide scope of leisure activities. The FDJ devotes great attention to cooperation with young artists. Together with the “German Sport and Gymnastics Union of the GDR” and the FDGB, the FDJ arranges holidays in hostels, homes, clubs and tourist centers for young people to participate in sport. These courses act as a constant source of new young athletes, provides good conditions for the contests for the various challenge cups of the FDJ and the Ernst Thalmann Pioneers’ Organization, as well as for the “Spartakiad” movement. The FDJ runs its own travel agency called “Jugendtourist”, which arranges tours exclusively for young people at home and abroad.
As an active member of the “World Federation of Democratic Youth” since 1948 and of the “International Union of Students” since 1949, the FDJ is a reliable ally in the democratic world youth movement. It has organized numerous campaigns of “Anti-Imperialist Solidarity” with all peoples fighting for their national and social liberation.
The organizational structure of the FDJ also follows vertical and horizontal patterns. FDJ branches are established wherever its members learn study, work or live: in factories, residential areas, units of the Armed Forces, scientific institutions, schools, colleges and universities. Delegate conferences in towns, districts and counties elect municipal, district and county committees of the FDJ in accordance with its rules and regulations. The Supreme Body of the FDJ is its Congress, which is normally held every four years. It elects the Central Council, the Central Auditing Commissions, and adopts resolutions on forthcoming tasks in the next term. The Central Council is responsible for the implementation of the resolutions and is answerable to the Congress. It carries out the work of the youth organization between Congresses, working on the principle of democratic centralism. The Central Council elects its own Secretariat and Bureau.
The FDJ has its representatives on all local assemblies. In the People’s Chamber, it has its own parliamentary group of 37 members. The FDJ organizes its own political training courses in all branches. In order to make them more interesting and varied, young people, given their different backgrounds, may choose from a variety of programs. To train its voluntary and full-time officials, the FDJ runs a number of county schools, schools attached to the Central Council and the Wilhelm Pieck Youth College, the highest educational establishment of the FDJ.
For excellent work in the youth organization, the FDJ awards the Ernst Thalmann Medal, the Arthur Becker Medal in gold, silver and bronze, the “Medal for Outstanding Achievements in Socialist Education within the Ernst Thalmann Pioneers’ Organization” in gold, silver and bronze and other distinctions.
The FDJ has three publishing houses of its own. The “Verlag Junge Welt” publishes the daily “Junge Welt”, the national newspaper of tile FDJ Central Council, and 16 other papers and magazines, and two other publishing houses issue books for children and teenagers.