Thälmann Pioneer's Shirt
This shirt is an example of the uniforms worn by children aged 6-14 who were members of the Young Pioneers in East Germany. Founded in 1948, the Young Pioneer movement was similar to the Boy and Girl Scout movements that originated in the United Kingdom at the turn of the century and spread around the world. Like the Scouts, children involved in the Young Pioneers attended regular after school meetings, went to summer camp, and learned patriotic virtues. Unlike Scouting, participation in the Young Pioneers was hardly voluntary--children were expected to participate--and the ideology off the Young Pioneers was much more overtly political. The pins on the shirt mark this particular shirt as likely being from the Ernst Thälmann Pioneers which, with the Young Pioneers were part of the umbrella Ernst Thälmann Pioneer Organization in East Germany. From 1948-1973 both groups wore the blue neckerchief, but after 1973 the Thälmann Pioneers switched to a red neckerchief like those worn by their Pioneer colleagues in the Soviet Union. This shirt also displays the characteristic pins worn by the children to commemorate their participation in various Pioneer activities, congresses, camps, and so on. All across Eastern Europe, Communist parties established similar youth organizations with similar goals and procedures.