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Cook, Alice Hanson / Bavarian trade union youth

Post-war youth organization,   pp. 2-3 PDF (826.8 KB)

Page 2

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Trade union youth groups are only one of many youth
organizations in every German city. The churches, political
parties, hiking and sport clubs all have their youth sections.
In addition international organizations like Boy Scouts,
Girl Scouts and YMCA have their local units, and in the
American Zone of Germany, the army's youth program, GYA
(German Youth Activities Program) plays an important role.
At the suggestion of U. S. Military Government, Youth Councils
or Youth Parliaments (Jugendringe, Jugendparlamente) were
organized shortly after the war in German cities of the U. S.
Zone to bring all youth organizations together to work on
common problems and thus to prevent their isolation from one
another. Some of these city Youth Councils have achieved a
genuine cooperative relationship among their member groups,
while at the other end of the scale some serve merely as
forums and clearing houses where information is exchanged but
where sharp political and ideological differences have stood
in the way of positive, constructive effort. In these latter
situations, trade union youth usually finds itself in a minority
which is regularly outvoted. In the former, labor representatives
have been able to achieve status and leadership within the
community's youth movement.
The post-World War II German youth movement bears no
relationship to the pre- and post-World War I youth movement
(Jugendbewegung). The latter originated as a spontaneous
rebellion of youth against German authoritarianism and middle-
class conventions, and continued as a youth-conscious, youth-
directed movement. The present day youth movement by contrast
consists of a series of youth sections of parent organizations,
differing from the main organization chiefly in the age of their
nerrbers and in the organization of a program presumably adapted
to this age representation. To varying degrees, present day
youth groups are self-governing, but they are not independent.
They are, in fact, the result of an effort by many German
institutions not to die out with the present generation.
The normal continuous growth of German organizations was cut
into by the twelve years of the Nazi regime and by the physical
loss of a large part of the generation which is now between 25
and 40 years of age. This loss in time, manpower, and in
continuity has given a frenzied quality to the recruitment of
young people in the present-day "youth movement" and a more than
zealos attention to their training.

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