Everyday Life in Eastern Europe
Rudé Pravo, Youth Discontent
In Communist Eastern Europe much propaganda was directed toward young people, who party leaders correctly viewed as forces important for the future of the state. This propaganda was filled with messages about the Communist Party's benevolent protection of workers' interests and the evils of Western capitalism. These messages were delivered in schools, where all teachers were required to write their lessons in accordance with the party line; in youth organizations, especially the Pioneers (the Eastern European equivalent of Boy and Girl Scouts); in mass parades celebrating national holidays, most of which commemorated Communist events; and in mass media, including TV, radio and film, all of which was under communist control—with the important exception of broadcasts originating in the West. Mothers and fathers were also supposed to teach their children to be good Communists, although this was difficult to do when parents had so little time for their offspring. As was traditional, fathers worked full-time jobs; and mothers, too, did so during the Cold War. Both parents shared the duties of standing in line on a daily basis to purchase food, although the greater share of this responsibility fell to mothers. The following document is an official Communist commentary on Czechoslovak youth and their discontent written several months before the revolution of 1989.
To see the associated Teaching Module on Everyday Life in Eastern Europe, click here.
“Commentary Examines Causes of Youth Discontent," February 13, 1989, Rudé Pravo, trans. Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS).
Primary Source— Excerpt
[Excerpt] The significance of topics changes according to how urgently they relate to the most relevant problems of society. And so I think it is necessary to touch upon a topic that has appeared quite often in our mass media, but somehow it was always a peripheral and a minor topic. . . .
The topic is youth and how we look after them. It is said that the foundation of everything is the family. Good. But today it can no longer take care of everything—this simply is not possible. It is necessary to understand this. School—that again ought to first of all provide an education. And young people's free time, their interests, their activities, and therefore their upbringing, ought to be taken care of by professionals, first and foremost the state, and society as a whole. And society ought to be interested in why educators at all levels, employees in houses for Pioneers and young people, leaders of amateur artistic groups and technical and sports teams, and cultural employees in general, are so badly paid and have such working conditions that only true enthusiasts or people who cannot hold down a better paying job can carry this out. Why is the material and social status of the bar owner, under whose wing young people take refuge mainly out of boredom, better than theirs? Why are conditions not created for the immediate satisfaction and development of the needs of young people? Why is there no equipment for modern sports? Why do young people have to look for it in the West? Just as is the case of their preferred participatory music, because we "officially" still give priority to the mostly banal songs of pop music "stars" instead of the really vivacious music, which therefore completely and paradoxically vegetates in the background (and into the bargain with the captivating labor of forbidden fruit)?. . . There are many of these "whys," but this is only a short contemplation, a gloss. I cannot dissect and evaluate the matter in a couple of lines. I can only turn attention to some of the roots that most of all lead to a certain social deprivation of some groups of our young people.
How to Cite this Source
Josef Holy, "Rudé Pravo, Youth Discontent," Making the History of 1989, Item #277, http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/items/show/277 (accessed August 30 2014, 12:12 am).