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Virtual: ‘FDJ-ler Make New Friends: International Youth Exchanges in the Eastern Bloc, 1972-1989’

February 26 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Join the North Carolina German Studies and Workshop Series for a discussion on international youth exchanges in the Eastern Bloc.

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, but 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, along with the role of political ideology and nationality in shaping the outlooks of the next generation of socialist citizens to argue that these 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 Department of History 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, Department of History and Geography, Elon University

Co-Conveners: UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History, and Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies

The Zoom URL for each NCGS seminar will be communicated two weeks before the event via the NCGS listserv.

If you are not on this listserv please contact the NCGS organizers Max H. Lazar, (maxlazar@live.unc.edu) and Michael Skalski, (mskalski@live.unc.edu) and ask them to be added this listserv or request the URL for the specific event.