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The Politburo of the Central Committee of the SED on the Junge Gemeinde [Young Congregation] (January 27, 1953)

In their efforts to gain a political hold on East German youth through Socialist schools and youth groups such the Young Pioneers and the Free German Youth (FDJ), the East German government and the SED quickly found themselves in opposition to traditional educational institutions, chiefly the Christian churches (and the Protestant Church, in particular). The Protestant Church was especially active in the area of Christian youth work, and, for this reason, it was the target of vehement attacks by the state. The SED accused the Protestant Church of acting in a manner that was hostile to the state and of using its youth programs to deliberately undercut the work of the FDJ. As an initial countermeasure, the state outlawed the work of student pastors in July 1952.

At the beginning of 1953, the state and the party instituted various coercive measures against the Protestant Church’s Junge Gemeinde [Young Congregation] and mounted a propaganda offensive against the group. The Junge Gemeinde, its writings, and its badges were banned. Religious instruction was abolished in secondary schools. Young Christians were excluded from university study. The allegedly treasonous activities of the Junge Gemeinde were to be unmasked in public show trials. At the same time, the Socialist Free German Youth was supposed to offer attractive programs to improve its recruitment of young people.

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Excerpt from Protocol No. 5/53 of the Meeting of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the SED on January 27, 1953

Decision Point 6: Junge Gemeinde and Attachment No. 2 to the Protocol, Junge Gemeinde

6. Junge Gemeinde:
Reporter: Axen

1) The measures against the Junge Gemeinde are approved. (Attachment No. 2)
2) The ordinance on the approval of compulsory event registration is approved. (Attachment No. 3)
3) Comrade Grotewohl and the State Administration department are instructed to organize a meeting between comrade Grotewohl and the church representatives of the GDR.

Attachment No. 2 to Protocol No. 5/53 of January 27, 1953 (P)

Junge Gemeinde

I. Unmasking the Junge Gemeinde in public as a cover organization for warmongering, sabotage, and espionage directed by West German and American imperialistic forces.

1) The comrade State Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of the GDR is instructed to hold three to four public trials using the relevant evidence. The trials shall be held successively and in short intervals (total duration 14 days) in a few district capitals or county seats of the GDR – not in Berlin. They should give clear proof of warmongering and spying and sabotage activity by members and functionaries of the Junge Gemeinde .

2) The county publications of the district press of the SED and of the other block parties shall publish documents and/or letters revealing the subversive activity of the Junge Gemeinde .

3) The district press of the SED and of the block parties shall publish exposés on the subversive and demoralizing activity of the Junge Gemeinde by former members and functionaries of the Junge Gemeinde themselves.

4) At the same time, there shall be a broad-scale organization of public appearances by pastors, church council members, Christian parents, and Christian youth against the so-called “Youth Chamber East” in West Berlin, which is submissive to the U.S.

5) The local groups of the DFD [Democratic Women’s League of Germany] and the women’s committees of the relevant enterprises and factories shall organize meetings in which the hostile role of the Junge Gemeinde is exposed to mothers.

6) The district and country leadership of the party are instructed to organize Parent Council meetings in schools in their [respective] counties and cities for the purpose of exposing the hostile activity of the Junge Gemeinde .

7) Statements by the leadership of the CDU [Christian Democratic Union], the LDP [Liberal Democratic Party], the NDP [National Democratic Party], and the DBD [Democratic Farmers’ Party], and then from the block committees in the communities and counties, later in the districts, against the subversive activity of the Junge Gemeinde shall be collected, and some, especially those from the CDU and the LDP, shall be published in the district press.

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