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The New Youth Program of the Communist Party (September 21, 1963)

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How Do Young People Today Become Socialists?

Our youth is generally very hard-working and mentally capable from very early on. They are self-confident and strive for just standards that recognize nothing but fair achievements. This is why they themselves have a strong will to achieve; every individual wants to matter, wants to accomplish something that will not only earn him the respect and recognition of his friends and all of society, but will also bring our republic respect and recognition throughout the world. Our young people mature earlier and wish to be taken seriously earlier as well; they are critical and do not tolerate poor leaders, or only for a short time. They live their lives in a constant struggle to master the new challenges of production and to oppose the numerous hurdles that result from old habits and insufficient knowledge. They respect their elders, particularly when they serve as a role model and accomplish something. Age is owed respect! In order for our youth to appreciate their elders from the bottom of their hearts, the best of the older generation should tell [our] boys and girls more about the experiences of their struggle-filled lives. By virtue of our socialist order, which gives [our] youth all sorts of opportunities to develop their skills and to assume responsibility from early on, our young people have also forged their own experiences and developed a strong will to shape their own education from an early age.

Every young person should know: Placing high demands on yourself is the prerequisite for creative activity. Given our societal conditions, every young person is mostly responsible for his own achievements, his own character traits, and his own behavior. Therefore, he seeks role models, people who encourage him to follow their example. Our girls and boys have a thirst for knowledge and are happy to learn from anyone who has something useful to teach them.

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Gathering Ideas and Ideals at the Source

By virtue of its achievements in production, its education, its love of the truth, and its sense of justice, today’s younger generation, under the influence of socialist ethics and morality, feels drawn to socialism. But that does not mean that it arrives at socialism “automatically” and without any objections. It takes different paths to a scientific world view than the older generation.

It is the task of the older generation to help our youth realize that only socialism serves their interests. A love for quality work, precision learning, and the socialist Fatherland must grow within young people. This love should not be blind but rather based on thorough knowledge of the laws that govern the development of human society. That’s the only way for firm convictions to develop, convictions that can serve as a true compass even in difficult situations.

But it is precisely this important area of persuasive work that still remains in a mostly sorry state. At school and in meetings, our youth is often still badgered with superficialities, unsubstantiated claims and superfluous catchphrases, instead of being encouraged and enabled to think independently and scientifically.

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