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Talk • International Youth Exchanges in the Eastern Bloc, 1972-1989
February 26 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
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.
Join Zoom Meeting: https://unc.zoom.us/j/96163349929
Michael Skalski is a PhD student in the UNC History department. 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.