J18. East German Youth Camp Honor Roll
This album also comes from the collection of a former East German athlete who defected to the West (see Item J17 for more about his story). Whereas J17 are albums from the Free German Youth (that is for youth ages 14-25), this album is from a Young Pioneer camp south of Leipzig (Raila near Gera). The Young Pioneers was an East German youth organization for children ages 6-13. Loosely based on Scouting, but organized in such a way as to indoctrinate schoolchildren with socialist ideology and prepare them for the Free German Youth.
This “honor” album covers the years 1963-1967 and lists the accomplishments and photo portraits of both the pioneer children and their educators. Were you especially enthusiastic while on clean up duty? You would have received a place in the honor album. Perhaps as a teacher, you were especially adept at building group character, and you would be named in the album. Even the camp librarian received her day in the sun: [“Elsa von Bodungen – known by all pioneers and instructors as ‘Aunt Elsa” – engaged in an exemplary performance in her work as the librarian… by supporting the pioneers during the summer of 1966.”]. Both the named instructors and children signed their names next to their honor album entries.
A lovely illustrated and described album providing a window into group psychology and community building exercises of East German children.