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German History in Documents and Images
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Youth Initiation Ceremony [Jugendweihe] in East Berlin (1979)
At the beginning of the 1950s, the SED decided to introduce youth initiation ceremonies [Jugendweihen] as a secular alternative to religious confirmation. The idea met with opposition from the churches but was implemented nonetheless. To avoid the potentially negative effects of non-participation on educational and professional advancement, young people participated in these ceremonies in growing numbers. In the process, the ritual became a common family celebration. The Jugendweihe, which took place at the end of 8th grade, also served as a symbolic step into the "ranks of adulthood." The propagandistic thrust of these events, however, is clearly conveyed by the poster seen in this photograph of a ceremony in East Berlin in 1979. It reads: β€œTo do everything for the welfare of the people – that is the meaning of Socialism.” Photo by Manfred Uhlenhaut.