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Political Guidelines for Party Organizations on Preparing and Implementing the Jugendweihe (1957)

After the Jugendweihe was introduced as a secular alternative to confirmation in the GDR, the SED strove to persuade as many young East Germans as possible to participate in the ritual. In addition to young people themselves, parents in the 1950s were also supposed to be convinced of the benefits of the Jugendweihe through targeted propaganda in the workplace. The Jugendweihe, and the year-long “youth lectures” in preparation for it, were supposed to convert young people to the Socialist worldview. They were also closely related to the educational ideals of the reformed school and the youth organizations of the GDR.

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Excerpt from Internal Party Materials; Decision by the Politburo from October 22, 1957

I. Ideological tasks of the Jugendweihe

The Jugendweihe was successfully implemented in 1957. As an old revolutionary working-class custom, it is among the valuable traditions of the Socialist workers’ movement; it is being cultivated among us and filled with new content.

The Jugendweihe is contributing to an ever-greater extent to educating our boys and girls in Socialist thinking and acting, to enriching their knowledge, and to solidifying their morals. It helps in developing our youth into people who are educated in an all-around way, steadfast in character, and fit for life, and who, borne by noble patriotism, affirm the German Democratic Republic and actively stand up for peace, friendship among nations, and Socialism as the highest goals of progressive humanity. The Jugendweihe serves to prepare young people for their future lives as adult members of our Socialist society. It confers rich knowledge and experience, which enable them to meet the demands of their future professions and to successfully attend our middle and upper schools. Above all, boys and girls become familiar with the developmental laws of nature and learn to apply them, in order to participate actively in the Socialist build-up of our republic.

The youth lectures in preparation for the Jugendweihe contribute to the formation of the Socialist worldview, especially by dealing with the laws of nature and society and with the questions of Socialist morality and ethics. They also address such issues as help in the future stages of life, the choice of a profession, the elucidation of Socialist relationships among people, and the historical role of the German Democratic Republic. In the coming year, as well, these lectures should be designed, in accordance with suggestions by the Central Committee for the Jugendweihe, to be interesting, varied, and rich with experiences. The youth lectures must be connected more closely than before to the life and struggle of our nation in building up Socialism. Through visits to enterprises, MTSs [machine tractor stations], LPGs [collective farms], and other production sites, participants in the Jugendweihe should learn not only about the scientific-technical aspects of production, but also about – and more strongly than before – the economic interconnections. The work of political education, which has often been neglected in recent times, must be improved. In the preparatory classes for the Jugendweihe, the oath must be more thoroughly explained than previously and incorporated into Socialist education as a valuable instrument. The work with scientific-technical films is crucial in the youth lectures. They are to be systematically integrated into the program of the youth lectures.

The Jugendweihe is very valuable for all boys and girls, regardless of the worldview of their parents or the worldview in which they were previously raised. Our workers in the enterprises, all working people, especially all parents, must be persuaded that the Jugendweihe serves the good of our young people, and that it is indispensable for their lives ahead. In that way, we will succeed in achieving mass participation in the Jugendweihe over the next few years.

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