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Cook, Alice Hanson / Workers' education in the U.S. Zone of Germany
(1947)

Labor education,   pp. 5-15 PDF (6.4 MB)


Page 9


But so far as youth was conaernedo a good deal of the labor-cultural
tradition was literally burned out. Union youth leaders today complain that
young people do not know how to .sing, and that' song books with notes are
almost
unobtainable. Hitler Youth songs are banned. Hitler Youth in many cases took
over folk songs or labor songs aftd gave them their own content, so that
today the:
cannot be sunz without the. Hitler connotations. And the songs which were
not
useful to the Nazis were erased, so that young people do not know them.
More fundamental perhaps for the present situation is that youth is
traditionless in every respect. They do not know what has been going on in
the
r st of the w:orld; they have distorted ideas about Germany's economic capacity,
its economic importance to the rest of the world, the capacity or motives
of
the rest of the world to aid Germany, etc. To begin working with young workars
today means to begin at the very beginning whether it is on economic fundamental
history, purpose and scope of the labor movement, the meaning of democratic
practice,' the role and potentialities of the individual, or the art of Germany
and other countries.
This task is 'made infinitely more difficult because of acute shortages.
of
such educational aids as books, charts, statistical tables, histories, reports
of trade union conventions, novels, biographies, and references on other
countries.
'The age problem is acute in the labor movement too, Young teachers are al-
most unavailable. The generation from 20-35 is very thin in Germany. Hitler
Youth training left young people mistrustful of the older generation generally.
The experience in compulsory youth groups under the Nazis has left them
with a mistrust o.f organization. The politicalization of every question
and
every relationship under the Nazis has made political cynics, especially
of
the young, for whom the Nazi collapse neant complete disillusionment twith
the
only ideals they knew or were permitted to have.
The older generation in the unions gives a great deal of lips-rvice to the
need for young leadership, But all too.often youth isacut off without a word
-or with-its ideas only half expressed, because "you can't know what
you're
talking about -- you-ve neve-' had an experience that counts". Ori "You
don't
know it, but your ideas' are still Nazi ideas. Wait until you've had a chance
to learn from us how to handle things in a democracy."
Because of the mutual distrust between old and y-ung, youth leaders will
have to come from youth.
The labor youth tradition before '33 called for schools lasting 3 to 5
months for young people where labor philosophy, econoiaic and historical
back-
ground and pr'actical leadership techniques were collbined. That kind of
fairly
thorough schooling is called for:today more than ever.
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