German Propaganda Archive Calvin College

Background: Trommel, or “The Drum” was the weekly magazine for elementary school children in the GDR. This page includes material from issue #16/1980. It is a good example of propaganda aimed at children. Much of the material is written by school children.

On this page, I summarize the main elements of the issue, which had 16 pages.

Cover: A student interview a watchmaker, who mentions that he spend three months in Vietnam helping to build a watch factory.

Page 2: International news. Brief items on Soviet peace initiatives, a visit by Margot Honecker to Mozambique, U.S. armaments, U.S. poison gas production, etc.

Page 3: Brief reports from students on factories and workers. Here is a typical one, titled “The Coal Must Roll”: “My big brother is a locomotive engineer. His locomotive pulls long coal trains. One car of coal weighs about 7 tons. If my brother failed to work for an hour, 224 tons of coal would fail to reach its goal. That means that 120 households would not get their coal. That would not be good for the families. I am very proud of my big brother. Even if I cannot go with him in his locomotive, I have learned from him how hard he works each day.”

Another article deals with stink bombs. It notes they have been around a long time, and it is hard to catch the perpetrator. One should be careful about making accusations without good evidence.

Page 4: 8 questions from children are answered, including: “What causes hay fever, and what can one do about it?” and “What does stereo mean.”

Page 5: An article on the 25th anniversary of the Warsaw Pact. It includes a map showing U.S. bases surrounding the Soviet Union. It notes the benefits of the Berlin Wall:

“The successes of socialism and its growing international reputation led to a tremendous increase in Imperialism’s hatred for the GDR, particularly in West Germany. It tried to do damage to us wherever possible. Our enemies particularly used the open border with West Berlin. That was not enough for them. Imperialism planned a war. Their plans were recognized in time. In agreement with the Soviet Union and the other states of the Warsaw Pact, we put an end to the West’s plans on 13 August 1961. We closed our borders.”

The article also praises the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Page 6: This is the cultural page. There is a column to aid in learning Russian. Another article deals with children’s books.

Page 7: The page is on Pioneer activities in the schools. One item reports on a school class visit to the place in Leipzig where Lenin had for a short time edited a newspaper.

Pages 8-9: On the theme of using time effectively, eleven children report on how various workers use their time.

Page 10: An article on telling time over history.

Page 11: A page on traffic safety, including a contest to say what a kid in a cartoon is doing wrong in crossing a street under a variety of conditions.

Page 12: A Russian short story (in German).

Page 13: A puzzle page.

Page 14: An installment in a cartoon series based on a Russian story.

Page 15: Brief news items.

Page 16: The sports page.

Go to the GDR Page.

Go to the German Propaganda Home Page.