In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2011. Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, pp. 203-216.
The GDR ascribed ‘youth’ a double significance. Practically, members of the FDJ, the GDR’s youth organisation, carried out party and the state functions. Beyond that, ‘youth’ served an ideological purpose. During the 1980s, members of the SED leadership who had started their political career during the Weimar KPD continued to present their mindset as ‘ageless’. They not only understood ‘youth’ in the sense of age, but also – and more crucially – as a label for their own specific political and ideological experience. Marxist-Leninist ideology had not only guided them to the founding of the GDR, but assured them time and again to quicken the progress towards the ‘birth’ of a communist world. Based on these observations, the essay develops some reasons for the evolution and the sudden decline of the idiosyncratic communist sense of youth by focusing on three decisive periods: Weimar Germany, the founding of the GDR and the 1980s. The paper concludes that the political and the ideological sense of youth was an inseparable part of German communism but simultaneously contributed to the downfall of the GDR in 1989.