History, Department of


Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: History, Under the Supervision of Professor James D. Le Sueur. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2011

Copyright (c) 2011 Regina K. Ernest


In attempts to bridge the increasing gap between youth and socialism in the German Democratic Republic in the 1960s, the Socialist Unity Party (SED) modified its youth policy by encouraging a socialist patriotic consciousness rather than solely emphasizing socialist development. For the duration of its statehood, the SED claimed that socialist patriotism and proletarian internationalism were intrinsically connected. However, in the pursuit of producing a consolidated youth, the SED became divided not only on the direction of youth policy but also on this symbiotic connection. In his liberal reform movement, head of state Walter Ulbricht and his advocates focused predominantly on the construct of nation to define its socialist patriotism. The anti-reforming splinter group of the SED, spearheaded by party apparatchiks Erich Honecker and Kurt Hager, worked to remove the all-German component to youth consciousness and revert back to its allegiance to the Soviet Union and the proletariat revolution. Each faction sanctioned a youth festival to articulate its position on East German national consciousness in youth policy and the German question.

This study on the shift in party youth policy from 1961-1967 emphasizes the complications of creating a national identity in the first German socialist state by identifying the implications of culture and student dialogue as represented in the Deutschlandtreffen (1964) and Wartburgtreffen (1967).

Adviser: James D. Le Sueur