Scouting for Communists: East German Youth Organization Returns
East Germany's communist youth organization, the Free German Youth, is back and canvassing for new members. The country's domestic intelligence agency, which tracks potentially anti-democratic behavior, is keeping an eye on its activities.
An employee of an East Germany-themed museum in Eichsfeld shows off an FDJ flag. The organization is back, 18 years after the fall of the Wall.
Berlin tabloids expressed outrage at the return of the socialist youth organization. "The FDJ Crawls Out of Its Hole," was the cover headline of the Berlin tabloid BZ on Monday. "Why did the authorities allow the FDJ's creepy show?" the newspaper fumed.
"The United States used to be our enemy, but now it is the Federal Republic of Germany," the new-look organization's leader, 29-year-old Ringo Ehlert, told the newspaper, admitting that he was barely old enough to remember East Germany.
The new FDJ, which is made up of young Germans with far-left political views, is under observation by Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the BZ reported.
Both boys and girls could be members of the FDJ, which was founded in 1946, and joined at the age of 14. Around 80 percent of young people in East Germany belonged to the group, and non-members could find access to higher education difficult. Famous former members including ice-skating star Katarina Witt and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
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