Berlin Wall: Young People

When implementing a new ideology or trying to change the way a society works, one of the most important groups of people to influence are children and young people, because they are the future of the state - in this case the future of the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

Education was the best way to ensure that Young People were being taught what the government wanted them to learn. This was very clear from long before the Cold War period - see more on education in the First and Second World War here.

One easy way to gain access to young people was through schools and youth groups. An example in Germany during the Cold War was The Free German Youth or the Freie Deutsche Jugend (FDJ). The FDJ was formed in the USSR zone after the end of the Second World War in 1946. The FDJ was a youth organisation open to all fourteen to twenty-five-year olds. Their regime and activities were being controlled by Socialist Unity Party of Germany, Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (SED).

Although not compulsory to join, if a young person did not join the group it could potentially have a negative impact on their future. If one wanted to have a political career or have a better chance of getting into University, joining the FDJ was practically necessary!


Before joining the FDJ there was another youth group (for all young people aged six to fourteen) called the Young Pioneers, Junge Pioniere (JP). Which, like the FDJ, used a youth group to ensure the SED value and behaviour was taught from an early age...



By 1984, around 83% of all eligible young people were a part of the Freie Deutsche Jugend!