work-code and labor discipline. If an enterprise had more than fifty workers, a conflict-commission was organized to meet in open sessions and provide "popular justice" in the workplace. In the 1970s, efforts were made to raise the status of the Confederation above other mass organizations. Yet, the original role of the unions, namely their being transmission belts for the communist leadership, were not fundamentally altered.
Another mass organization was the Free German Youth, the party's copy of the Soviet KOMSOMOL. It was established in 1946 as an allegedly nonparty, nonsectarian youth association, and its name harkened back to the early years of the Weimar Republic (see Free German Youth Organization). By 1952, the Free German Youth association had been completely absorbed into the communist system of mass-organizations, and its twofold purpose was the indoctrination of young people in the ideology of Marxism-Leninism and preparation of them for later Communist party membership. The rules provided that young people between the ages of fourteen and twenty five could join the association and, in 1982, 2.3 million was the number of its membership. This was a typically urban group; in rural areas, fewer young people joined its ranks. Every school, university, and industrial firm had a chapter of the organization. In 1983, there were 28,191 basic organizations of this institution in East Germany. Its so-called parliament met every five years. Between sessions, the Central Council, whose members were also members of the Communist party, directed its affairs. About 650,000 officials of one sort or another worked in the organization. Most of them were, or eventually became, members of the Socialist Unity party. For instance, Egon Krenz, a former leader of the Central Council, became a full member of the Communist party's Politburo; Erich Honecker (see Honecker Erich), the future secretary general of the Socialist Unity party, was the first chairman of the Free German Youth organization.
The organization was a major participant in premilitary training of young people. It also organized the Thalmann Young Pioneers Association, which recruited children for a communist equivalent of the cub scouts.
Dennis Mike, German Democratic Republic: Politics, Economics, and Society ( London, 1988), Hanke Irma, "Rund Life under Socialism," GDR Monitor, 15 ( 1986), pp. 17-36; Lane Christel , "Women in Socialist Society with Spacial Reference to the GDR," Sociology, 17. 4 ( 1994), pp. 489-505.
Mielke, Erich ( 1907-). A native son of Berlin, Mielke joined the German Communist party in 1926 and was a member of the private army of the party. During the Spanish civil war, he joined the loyalists and was a KGB agent. As such, he participated in the persecution of Trotskyists and Anarchists. When Francisco Franco's army won the civil war, Mielke, with many others, escaped to France but was placed in a French detention camp. The Soviet secret service smuggled him out of the camp and delivered him to the Soviet Union. He spent the war years in Moscow.