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FDJ-ler Make New Friends: International Youth Exchanges in the Eastern Bloc, 1972-1989
February 26, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
This event is organized by the NC German Studies Seminar and Workshop Series. For the most updated details and information on joining the event, please visit the NCGSWS website.
Speaker: MICHAEL SKALSKI I Graduate Student, UNC—Chapel Hill, Department of History
In the spirit of communist internationalism, Eastern Bloc regimes provided ample opportunities for children, teenagers, and students to travel and become acquainted with their peers from other peoples’ democracies. Not only were the exchanges a popular vacation alternative for young people, they also served the purpose of strengthening Bloc cohesion and adherence to socialist values. Thousands of East German youth came into contact with their Polish, Czech, and Soviet peers annually, making lasting friendships, exchanging experiences, and falling into conflict over cultural differences. This presentation explores the quality and outcomes of these interactions, the role of political ideology and nationality in shaping the outlooks of the next generation of socialist citizens to argue that the state-sponsored programs returned the children as “better” Germans (or Poles or Czechs) rather than better communists.
MICHAEL SKALSKI is a PhD graduate in the History Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His dissertation, “A Socialist Neighborhood: Cross-Border Exchanges between Poland, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia, 1969-1989,” explores successes and failures of internationalism and integration in the Eastern Bloc.
Moderation: ANDREA SINN (Elon University, Department of History and Geography)
Co-Conveners: UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History, and Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies