Youth Space Education and the Future of the GDR

Central European History Journal Cover

Historians of East Germany often see the state as future-looking, but questions remain about the kinds of futures that East Germans expected. Youth space education provides one example of how East Germans thought about the future. Across the country, spaceflight formed an important part of youth education through books, the Jugendweihe, and places like cosmonaut clubs. Although these activities show how East German adults taught children about space travel, they also illuminate expectations for the future of spaceflight and the future of East Germany's children. In a state that continually proclaimed the imminent future of everyday spaceflight, East German adults, even party members, adopted a particular vision of the future. They taught children that the ideas of space travel would be important for their lives on Earth, while simultaneously questioning the state's optimistic vision for everyday spaceflight.


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