December 30, 2015
Remembering happy years in the German Democratic Republic 'Young Pioneers'
A pioneer recalls:
"Be ready! Always ready!"
Be ready! Always ready! That was the greeting of the members which was founded in the Soviet occupation zone on December 13, 1948 -- The Young Pioneer Organization. the students of 1st to 7th grade were members.
In 1952 the organization received the honorary title "Ernst Thalmann" in memory of the great labor leaders and upright Communists murdered by the fascists. Each pioneer was proud to bear the name of Ernst Thalmann. I know whereof I speak, I was there also. Many, many happy memories were created at this time.
Even later, when I was already a teacher and responsible for the pioneer afternoons, these were interesting and eventful hours for my students and me. I also included the children who were not allowed to be a pioneer for religious reasons within the activities of these pioneer afternoons. Here I would like to point out that it was a decision of the parents if the children were not allowed to enter the pioneer organization, by no means a decision forced by the school or the pioneering conductor. But each child was welcome!
The object of the Pioneer organization was to educate the children for friendship between peoples, for peace and socialism. In the 1st year class the students were young pioneers, made the pioneer pledge and received the blue scarf.
From the 4th grade the pioneers made their pledge, and were made Thälmann Pioneers receiving a red bandana at a ceremony. The pioneers wore a white blouse on special occasions - with the Pioneer badge on the left sleeve and of course the blue or red pioneer scarf. In addition, each Thalmann Pioneer had a membership card in which were printed the rules of the Thälmann Pioneers.
In every school year the ‘Gruppenrat’ (Council) was elected during a school class. The pioneers chosen were the model for the students of each class. The Pioneer organization had its own newspapers. For the Young Pioneers (Grades 1 - 4) it was the "ABC-Zeitung" and for the Thälmann pioneers the "Drum". In addition to the aforementioned newspapers, there was the "Frösi" (Be glad and sing!), which was highly sought after.
There were awards for students and pioneers. This was the "badge for knowledge". It was awarded for particularly good academic performance, and also a badge "for good work at school". There were also a variety of leisure activities for all the Pioneers. You just took care of the children and their special interests. One in every 1,000 children in the Pioneers was sent to spend their holidays at the Werbellinsee. There the children met kids from many different countries. They worked together on joint projects and also received appropriate lessons.
In 1979 the "Ernst Thalmann" Pioneer Palace in the Berliner Wuhlheide was opened. There was the "Ernst Thalmann" pioneer park, the Central House of the Young Pioneers "German Titov", and the "Theater der Freundschaft" in Berlin. But these facilities were not only in Berlin, but in every major city of our republic.
In Halle, my home town, there was "Theater of the Young Guard" and the pioneer house on the Peißnitz, a station for "Young naturalist" and an "observatory" with endless recreational activities for the children. In our state, the GDR, it was important to ensure a good education and training of children and youth - The position and the wallet of the parents did not matter. It was important the child, a comprehensive education, education for international friendship, m against war and exploitation and the conscious use of nature.
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