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German History in Documents and Images
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A Noncommissioned Officer in the National People's Army Gives Firearms Instruction in a GDR School (1975)
In the Honecker era, “socialist military education” assumed additional importance. Through the sponsorship of the People’s National Army, the militarization of society started as early as kindergarten. Along with this, the Pioneer Organization “Ernst Thälmann” (named after the former head of Germany’s Communist Party [KPD] who was murdered by the Nazis) and the Free German Youth sponsored various maneuvers and paramilitary competitions. The Society for Sport and Technology organized pre-military training for adolescents. Additionally, starting in the 1973-74 school year, ninth- and tenth-grade students at general polytechnic secondary schools had the option of participating in “military education” study groups. During the 1978-79 school year, military studies became a mandatory subject for students in those grade levels. Photo by Edelgard Rehboldt.