The Ernst Thalmann Pioneer Organisation, consisting of the Young Pioneers and the Thälmann Pioneers, was a youth organisation of schoolchildren aged 6 to 14. They were named after Ernst Thälmann, the former leader of the Communist Party of Germany who was executed at the Buchenwald concentration camp.
The group was a subdivision of the Freie Deutsche Jugend (FDJ, Free German Youth), East Germany’s youth movement. It was founded in 1948 and broke apart in 1989 on German reunification. From the 1960s and 1970s, nearly all schoolchildren between ages 6 and 14 were organised into Young Pioneer or Thälmann Pioneer groups.
The pioneer group was loosely based on Scouting, but organised in such a way as to teach schoolchildren aged 6 – 14 socialist ideology and prepare them for the Freie Deutsche Jugend, the FDJ. Its organisation was similar to Scouting and other such organisations. Afternoons spent at the pioneer group mainly consisted of a mixture of adventure, myth-like socialist teaching and the upkeep of revolutionary traditions.