Pioneer organization Ernst Thälmann

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Emblem of the pioneer organization Ernst Thälmann
Young Pioneers Pennant

The pioneer organization "Ernst Thälmann" , named after the former chairman of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) Ernst Thälmann , was the political mass organization for children in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) . Since the 1960s / 1970s, almost all pupils from the first to the seventh year of school belonged to it as young or Thälmann pioneers. The pioneer organization, which was affiliated to the Free German Youth (FDJ), was founded on December 13, 1948 and dissolved in August 1990. Derived from the founding day, December 13th was therefore celebrated as a pioneer birthday in the GDR . The pioneer organization of the GDR was built and organized entirely on the Soviet model of the Komsomol .

Significance within the GDR

On March 20, 1949, the founding ceremony of the Association of "Young Pioneers" took place in the old Friedrichstadt-Palast in Berlin

The pioneer organization was firmly integrated into the schools as a political children's organization and part of the uniform socialist school system in the GDR. It formed the preliminary stage for membership in the FDJ.

The organization always focused on the collective , individualism was not desired. Wearing the scarf was strongly encouraged in schools on the days when the flag roll call and on those on which the pioneer group met regularly after school (the pioneer afternoons ), as well as on some socialist holidays, such as the pioneer birthday.


In June 1946, the FDJ's 1st parliament decided to found groups for children. The Association of Young Pioneers was then founded on December 13, 1948, i.e. before the GDR was founded, based on the resolutions of the SED . Margot Feist , who married Erich Honecker in 1953 , became chairwoman of the association . The model was the Soviet pioneer organization Vladimir Ilyich Lenin . As early as the years of the Weimar Republic, the Communist Party of Germany had a children's organization called the Young Spartakusbund .

Breakdown of the pioneers

Young pioneers

Membership card for young pioneers of the GDR, inside, 1988

The pioneers in the 1st to 4th grade (from six to ten years of age) were among the young pioneers and wore blue scarves on special occasions.

The precepts of the young pioneers , which were also on the membership card mentioned on the pioneer ID card, were initially:

  • We young pioneers love our German Democratic Republic.
  • We young pioneers respect (or love) our parents.
  • We young pioneers love peace.
  • We young pioneers maintain friendship with the children of the Soviet Union and all countries.
  • We young pioneers study hard, are orderly and disciplined.
  • We young pioneers respect all working people and help out everywhere.
  • We young pioneers are good friends and help one another.
  • We young pioneers like to sing and dance, play and do handicrafts.
  • We young pioneers play sports and keep our bodies clean and healthy.
  • We young pioneers wear our blue scarf with pride.

A sentence was later added to the tenth commandment:

  • We are preparing to become good Thälmann pioneers.

Thälmann pioneers

Laws of the Thälmann pioneers from the 1960s
Functions, commendations and awards of a Thälmann pioneer

The pioneers of the 4.–7./8. Classes (9/10 to 13/14 years) were called Thälmann pioneers after the KPD chairman Ernst Thälmann and wore a blue scarf until December 10, 1973, and then gradually a red scarf. For them, derived from the commandments of the young pioneers, the laws of the Thälmann pioneers now applied .

They made the following vow in the 1960s:

“Ernst Thälmann is our role model. As a Thälmann pioneer, I vow to live, learn and fight as Ernst Thälmann teaches, true to our greeting I am: Always ready for peace and socialism! "

At the end of the 7th grade or at the beginning of the 8th grade, admission to the Free German Youth (FDJ) usually took place , which ended membership in the pioneer organization.


Membership in the Young Pioneers and the Thälmann Pioneers was formally voluntary . On the other hand, it was taken for granted by the state and thus by the school and by many parents. In practice, the initiative for accepting all students in a class came from the school. As the membership quota of up to 98 percent of the students (in the later years of the GDR) shows, the six or ten year olds (or their parents) had to be active on their own in order not to become members. However, there were also children who did not become members. Pupils were rarely accepted or excluded from membership because of poor academic performance or bad behavior “as a punishment”.

Admission date

The recording date was December 13th, when the pioneer organization was founded in 1948. Students usually became young pioneers in first grade and Thälmann pioneers in fourth grade. Admission was still possible in later school years, but future Thälmann pioneers must have been young pioneers for a year.

  • Summer 1949: 714,258 pioneers (around 30 percent of all school-age children in the Soviet occupation zone)
  • around 1959: more than 50 percent of school children are members of the pioneer organization
  • 1989: almost two million schoolchildren, i.e. around 98 percent of school children, were members of the pioneering organization


The pioneer organization was organized according to the principle of democratic centralism . The organizational structure was fixed down to the lowest level of each individual school class.

Group council

The pioneers of a school class formed a pioneer group and elected a group council. The group council chairman, comparable to a class representative , worked with the teachers and the group pioneer leader (voluntary function, often this was the teacher, but it could also be an FDJ from the upper classes of the school). There was also a deputy group council chairman, a secretary, a cashier, an agitator and possibly other members with certain functions, such as wall newspaper editor or for the preparation of sports festivals or celebrations.

Friendship Council

The Friendship Council, comparable to a student council, formed the formal governing body of all young and Thälmann pioneers (the so-called pioneer friendship ) at a polytechnic high school . It was made up of pioneers sent from each class in an annual election. The Friendship Council elected a Friendship Council chairman. The friendship pioneer leader attended the meetings of the Friendship Council with voting rights. This was a full-time FDJ functionary who was organizationally and politically responsible for the pioneering life at the school. The training of the pioneer leaders (at the institutes for teacher training or the central institute of the pioneer organization "Ernst Thälmann" in Droy says ) also included a pedagogical training, which is why, in addition to their pioneering work, they sometimes also taught to a limited extent or were used as substitutes.

Chair of the pioneer organization


The pioneer clothing consisted of white blouses and shirts that could be purchased in sporting goods stores. On the left sleeve was a patch with the embroidered emblem of the pioneer organization and, if necessary, a badge of rank with stripes in the color of the scarf. These badges of rank were three stripes for friendship council chairmen, two stripes for group council chairmen and friendship council members, and one stripe for all other group council members. Sometimes symbols for special functions were sewn on at this point, for example a red cross for a boy paramedic . Dark blue trousers or skirts were worn for this, and a dark blue cap with the pioneer emblem as a cockade served as headgear . At the beginning of the 1970s, a windbreaker / blouson and a dark red leisure blouse were added.

The pioneer clothing was only worn completely on special occasions, for example at the flag roll call, on memorial days or festive school events, but it was usually not mandatory.

From the 1960s onwards, the requirement for trousers / skirts was dispensed with in many places, and the dress code also relaxed with regard to the kepi. For pioneer afternoons or other activities, only the triangular scarf was often worn. In contrast to the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries , a blue scarf was common in the GDR. Not until 1973, for the 25th anniversary of the organization, was the red scarf introduced for the Thälmann pioneers, while the young pioneers stayed with the blue scarf. The change of the color of the scarf was made solemn in the pioneer organization.

From 1988 there was an expanded range of clothing, consisting of a nicki in the colors white, light yellow, turquoise or pink (with an imprint of the pioneer organization's symbol), long and short trousers with a snap belt and, for the colder months, a lined windbreaker in red for girls and gray for boys.

Suitable pioneers were trained as paramedics; After completing their training, they wore the “Young Paramedic” badge.

Slogan and greeting

Thälmann pioneers greeting the Fritz Weineck monument in Halle (Saale) , 1958

The pioneers had their own slogan: “For peace and socialism [initially: friendship among peoples]: Be ready!” - The group's response was: “Always ready!”, Usually shortened to “Be ready! - Always ready!". The origin of the slogan was the greeting “ Будь готов! - Всегда готов! “The Soviet pioneer organization Vladimir Ilyich Lenin . The first part of this slogan was called by the chairman of the Friendship Council after the flag roll call, and the second part was answered by all the pioneers. The right arm was raised and the palm of the hand was held over the head so that the thumb was pointing towards the head and the little finger was pointing towards the sky. Sometimes the teacher would also greet the students at the beginning of the lesson in this way, who then responded in the manner described above, but did not raise their hands in greeting.

Pioneer word of honor

In children's books and films, pioneers often used the pioneer word of honor to confirm the truth of a statement . "It was not me. Pioneer word of honor! "; "Tomorrow I will definitely come, great pioneer word of honor!"

Pioneer object

A pioneer object was an object whose maintenance, embellishment or creation was a long-term assignment for pioneer groups. This included jobs such as maintaining memorials and public gardens or helping out in social institutions. The pioneers were supposed to learn responsibility towards their environment, and values ​​were cultivated and created in this way.


A pioneer reading “Der Junge Pionier”, 1950
  • Pioneer Organization Newspaper
    • Our newspaper - February 1947 to December 1948
    • The young pioneer - December 1948 to 1958
    • Drum  - newspaper for Thälmann pioneers and students (organ of the central management of the pioneer organization "Ernst Thälmann" ), Verlag Junge Welt, was published weekly from 1958 to 1991, price: 10 pfennigs
  • further press products for pioneers:
    • Frösi  "At first - Frö be hlich and si hang" (after the pioneer hymn). Pioneering magazine for boys and girls in the GDR, which mostly contained supplements for handicrafts and experiments. Published monthly from 1953 to 1991 (new edition from May 2005, which has since been discontinued) Price: 70 Pfennig
    • Atze  - comic book with partly heroic stories. Appeared monthly; Price: 20 pfennigs
    • The ABC newspaper  - for young pioneers in the 1st to 3rd grade, has been published monthly since 1946, price: 30 Pfennig
    • Bummi was aimed at preschoolers, but by portraying young pioneers, they agreed to membership in the pioneer organization, price: 25 pfennigs.
    • Płomjo (German Flame) - the only Sorbian-language pioneer magazine, published by the FDJ Central Council (1960/6000 readers)

Pioneer Palace Berlin

In Berlin at the Wuhlheide was from 1951 a pioneer park with the traffic therein Pioniereisenbahn that with the elaborate 1979 Pioneer Palace "Ernst Thalmann" has been added. There was a very varied and demanding leisure offer, the highlight was a "cosmonaut training center". The facility exists today under the name Freizeit- und Erholungszentrum (FEZ).

Central pioneer camp

The Free German Youth (FDJ) organized numerous central pioneer camps (ZPL), which enabled children to spend free holidays. Some central pioneer camps also had exchange programs with other pioneer holiday camps in “socialist countries” and some occasionally offered travel groups for children, mostly from trade unions from western countries, free board and lodging. Preferred countries were the Federal Republic, Italy, France and Spain. The encounter with children from western countries was an additional incentive for the children from the GDR to spend their holidays in a pioneer holiday camp, as it was the first time that they felt a certain, albeit limited, “cosmopolitanism”.

In addition to play and relaxation, the regular program in the pioneer holiday camps included rituals such as the flag roll call and group afternoons. An important task of the pioneer holiday camp was the training of young executives of the pioneer organization, such as the members of the group councils.

A distinction must be made between the pioneer camps and the large number of company holiday camps organized by the state-owned companies . Pioneer clothing was mostly not worn there (too profane for "honorary clothing"), there were hardly any rituals. Nevertheless, references to the existence of a child as a pioneer were made, e.g. B. at tourist competitions or a first paramedic training.

The economic burdens from the operation of a central pioneer camp were taken over, by no means always voluntarily, by large carrier companies , such as the Mathias-Thesen-Werft Wismar for the ZPL Boltenhagen - Tarnewitz or the Neptunwerft Rostock for the ZPL at Feisnecksee near Waren an der Müritz. The children of employees of these sponsoring companies, who were often present as normal holiday camp children in their own holiday groups, watched the ritual goings on in the ZPL with amazement.

The ZPL in Einsiedel near Karl-Marx-Stadt is the setting for the children's book The Happy Hermits .

In the processing of documents of the Stasi became apparent that the technical equipment should be so used in Einsiedel, when unrest in the GDR for the internment of persons.

Pioneering republic of Wilhelm Pieck

On July 16, 1952, the then President of the GDR, Wilhelm Pieck , opened the pioneer camp on the Werbellinsee . It was the best equipped and largest pioneer camp in the GDR.

The Pioneer Republic of Wilhelm Pieck was a pioneer camp built on the model of the Soviet pioneer camp " Artek ". 1000 Thälmann pioneers were able to spend several weeks there. During this time they lived in the various houses together with pioneer leaders who acted as carers. There you met students and pioneers from other countries, worked on projects and - if the stay did not fall during the holiday season - received lessons. The prerequisites for participation were excellent academic achievements, an "unequivocal" attitude and possibly the parents' SED affiliation.

The European youth recreation and meeting place Werbellinsee is currently located on the site .

Pioneer ships and ship names

The GDR pioneer organization "Ernst Thälmann" was also the owner of so-called "pioneer ships":

  • Steamer "Forward" ex. Grete Cords , the first DSR ship , was handed over to the "House of Young Pioneers" in Rostock after decommissioning in 1955 and served as a training facility until 1989, after which the "Vorwärts" was scrapped, see also Vorwärts (Ship, 1903)
  • "Klaus Störtebeker" (I) was subordinate to the "House of Young Pioneers" Stralsund , was previously stationed as a motor school boat " Patriot" from 1956 to 1960 at the " GST Sea Sports School" Greifswald-Wieck and then served as a floating training base until it was scrapped in 1977 in Stralsund.
  • "Klaus Störtebeker" (II), was also subordinate to the "House of Young Pioneers" Stralsund, was previously as the motor training ship "Friendship" (II) ex. Fürstenberg , stationed at the GST Naval School "August Lütgens" Greifswald-Wieck from 1959 to 1973 and then in the Stralsund harbor. After the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989/90), the Hanseatic City of Stralsund took over the former “pioneer ship”. The island of Dänholm in the Strelasund later became his new berth. Today it is used by the sailing school there as a leisure activity facility for children and young people.
  • "Thälmann-Pionier" was the name of a steamship of the DSR, home port Rostock, which was used in the Mediterranean service from 1957 to 1970, was then sold to Greece , under whose flag it sailed as a freighter until 1979 and was then scrapped there, see also Kolomna ( Ship type)
  • The sailing yacht Immer Ready , a two-master with a keel , was handed over to the Ueckermünde district pioneer organization on October 7, 1961 and has been used by the young natural scientist station there (today: Center for Adventure Education and Environmental Education ) since May 1962 to take day trips with school classes, today under the name Greif von Ueckermünde .

Pioneer songs (selection)

The songs of the pioneers were sung over and over again on numerous occasions.

Films (selection)

Pioneering events

VII. Pioneer meeting in Dresden 1982 - plastic bag
Pioneering event in the
Wilhelm Pieck pioneering house in Zwickau , 1979

In addition to the usual pioneer afternoons, there were also larger festivals and events for the Jung and Thälmann pioneers. From 1952 to 1988 there were a total of eight central pioneer meetings in various cities in the GDR at irregular intervals.

  • First pioneer meeting: August 18-25, 1952 in Dresden
  • II. Pioneer Meeting: August 12th to 18th, 1955 in Dresden
  • III. Pioneer meeting: August 14-19, 1958 in Halle
  • IV. Pioneer Meeting: August 9-20, 1961 in Erfurt
  • V pioneer meeting: August 13-16, 1964 in Karl-Marx-Stadt
  • VI. Pioneer meeting: August 5th to 9th, 1970 in Cottbus
  • VII Pioneer Meeting: August 15-22, 1982 in Dresden
  • VIII. Pioneer Meeting: August 14-21, 1988 in Karl-Marx-Stadt

At the pioneer meetings, the participating pioneers were sworn to the legacy of Ernst Thalmann, socialism and the Soviet Union. At the first pioneer meeting in 1952, around 60,000 pioneers made a mass pledge:

We young pioneers, sons and daughters of the German people vow to our President Wilhelm Pieck in our pioneering honor that we will always prove ourselves worthy of the name Ernst Thalmann, who fought for the happiness of our people and gave his life for it. We promise! (All :) We vow that!
We vow that we will use all our strength in the struggle for the establishment of a unified, peace-loving, democratic and independent Germany. We promise! We vow to always stand up fearlessly for the victory of socialism in our country. (All :) We vow that!
We vow to cultivate and guard our friendship with the Soviet Union, just like Ernst Thälmann and Wilhelm Pieck. (All :) We vow that!
We promise to live and learn in an exemplary manner in order to become worthy citizens of our German Democratic Republic! (All :) We vow that!

Postage stamps on the pioneer organization and the central pioneer meetings

Young pioneers of the DKP

The German Communist Party also had a children's organization in the Federal Republic called “Young Pioneers”, which, programmatically decided at the Hamburg party congress of the DKP in November 1973, was constituted on June 1 in Hanover as “Young Pioneers - Socialist Children's Organization” was officially founded on July 1, 1974 in Bottrop . With the new youth organization, which was intended for children from 6 to 14 years of age, the DKP had created another, albeit officially independent, subsidiary organization in addition to the SDAJ and the MSB Spartakus . In the mid-1980s it had around 4,000 members (mostly children of DKP comrades). Every summer, at the invitation of the pioneer organization Ernst Thälmann, she was allowed to send a contingent of children to the GDR holiday camps and also to the pioneering republic of Wilhelm Pieck . With the reunification, the “Young Pioneers” (West) also disbanded a little later.


  • Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (Ed.): Free German Youth and Pioneer Organization Ernst Thälmann in the GDR. (= The GDR - realities, arguments ). Verlag Neue Gesellschaft, Bonn 1984, DNB 850111994
  • Leonore Ansorg: Children in class struggle. The history of the pioneer organization from 1948 to the end of the fifties . (= Contemporary History Studies 8). Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-05-003117-4 .
  • Barbara Felsmann: I always cried with the little trumpeter. Childhood in the GDR - memories of the young pioneers . Lukas Verlag, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-931836-55-X .
  • René Börrnert: As Ernst Thälmann, loyal and bold! The Thälmann image of the SED in everyday education in the GDR. Klinkhardt, Bad Heilbrunn / Obb. 2004, ISBN 3-7815-1321-1 , (with many additional references).
  • Daniel Wiechmann : Always ready! From a young pioneer who set out to seek happiness . Droemer, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-426-27335-7 .
  • Alexander Bolz, Jörgpeter Lund, Wilfried Poßner : The pioneer organization "Ernst Thälmann" in the GDR. Historical and theoretical reminiscences. (= Booklets on GDR history. 116). Helle Panke et al., Berlin 2009, DNB 99540013X .
  • Beate Kaiser: The pioneer organization Ernst Thälmann. Pedagogy, ideology and politics. A regional study on Dresden 1945–1957 and 1980–1990 (= studies of the SED State Research Association at the Free University of Berlin . Volume 19). Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2013, ISBN 978-3-631-64330-3 .

Phonograms (pioneer songs) and films

  • Pioneer songs. Thomas Putensen , CD, 2001
  • We love the happy life, CD, 2003.
  • The most beautiful pioneer songs, Vol. 2, CD, 2004.
  • Blue pennants in the summer wind  - DEFA - documentary , report from the pioneer meeting in Dresden in August 1952, 56 min .; as VHS video: Icestorm Entertainment , publisher no. 10165, Berlin, 2000

See also

Web links

Commons : Pioneer organization Ernst Thälmann  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Heinrich August Winkler : The appearance of normality. Workers and labor movement in the Weimar Republic 1924 to 1930. JHW Dietz Nachf., Berlin, Bonn 1985, ISBN 3-8012-0094-9 , pp. 448f.
  2. Birgit Wolf: Language in the GDR: A dictionary . de Gruyter , Berlin / New York 2000, ISBN 3-11-016427-2 , p. 172 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  3. German National Library: DNB 572158270
  4. ^ Sailing yacht Greif from Ueckermünde , accessed on August 8, 2014.
  5. ^ Rudolf Chowanetz : Times and ways. On the history of the pioneering organization "Ernst Thälmann" from its beginnings to 1952. In reports, letters, memories, pictures and a chronicle. 2nd Edition. Kinderbuchverlag, Berlin 1988, p. 303
  6. René Börrnert: How Ernst Thälmann loyal and keen - The Thälmann image of the SED in everyday education in the GDR. (= Studies on historical-systematic educational science). Klinkhardt, Bad Heilbrunn 2004, ISBN 3-7815-1321-1 , p. 96. Restricted preview in the Google book search
  7. ^ Helmut Bilstein, Sepp Binder, Manfred Elsner, Hans-Ulrich Klose, Ingo Wolkenhaar: Organized Communism in the Federal Republic of Germany. 3rd, exp. Edition. Leske Verlag, Opladen 1975, ISBN 3-8100-0140-6 , p. 16.
  8. ^ Gerd Langguth: Class struggle in the sandpit. “Young Pioneers” - DKP's children's organization. In: Political Studies. No. 221, Volume 26, May / June 1975, p. 293 ff.
  9. Wolfgang Rudzio: The erosion of demarcation: On the relationship between the democratic left and communists in the Federal Republic of Germany. Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen 1988, ISBN 3-531-12045-X , p. 20 f.
  10. OST INFILTRATION, from brush for rifle , accessed on 17 April 2016th
  11. Left Western vacationers in the GDR, "We're going to a child-friendly country". In: Spiegel Online . July 9, 2009, accessed April 17, 2016.
  12. December 12, 2008 - 60 years ago: FDJ decides to found the Junge Pioniere , WDR report of December 12, 2008, accessed on April 17, 2016.