The sunny side of socialism

More about this object

Holiday-makers identity papers from the holiday service of the Federation of Free German Trade Unions (Freier Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, FDGB) from June, 1989.

While "mass tourism" in Western societies was powered by market forces and commercialization, in Eastern Europe it was built on ideological premises. The "social tourism," of which the subsidized holidays for workers was the most typical form, was linked to the political drive towards modernization, and virtually every aspect of life was controlled by state-owned companies and organizations.

In the GDR, the Federation of Free German Trade Unions (Freier Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, or FDGB) stepped into the role that the unions had played prior to the Nazi era and set up its own holiday service in 1947 offering inexpensive package holidays to workers. Like the Nazi-era "Strength Through Joy" program before it, the service maintained a number of holiday resorts and leisure boats.

Demand for holidays at Baltic Sea resorts like Haus Goor on the island of Rügen was high, not least because holiday periods were not staggered throughout the country. Waiting lists were long, and people with "connections" had a distinct advantage in getting places. Holiday-makers were issued special papers that proved their right to be on holiday, which they had to carry with them at all times.

How to cite this page

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Slawomir Lotysz, 'The sunny side of socialism', Inventing Europe, http://www.inventingeurope.eu/daily-lives/the-sunny-side-of-socialism

Sources

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  1. Spode, Hasso. "Fordism, Mass Tourism and the Third Reich: The 'Strength through Joy' Seaside Resort as an Index Fossil." Journal of Social History 38, no. 1 (Fall 2004): 127-155.
  2. Baranowski, Shelley. Strength through Joy: Consumerism and Mass Tourism in the Third Reich. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
  3. Dybiec, Joanna. Guidebook Gazes: Poland in American and German Travel Guides, 1945-2002. Münster: Lit, 2004.
  4. Timothy, Dallen J. Tourism and Political Boundaries. London, New York: Routledge, 2002.
  5. Hurd, Madeleine. Borderland Identities: Territory and Belonging in Central, North and East Europe. Eslöv: Förlags ab Gondolin, 2006.
  6. Koshar, Rudy. German Travel Cultures. Oxford: Berg, 2000.
  7. Baranowski, Shelley. Strength through Joy: Consumerism and Mass Tourism in the Third Reich. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

About this tour

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Making the European 'mass tourist'

The nineteenth and twentieth centuries saw the expansion of leisure time for lower middle-class and working-class Europeans, as well as a number of organized efforts to bring people out of crowded, polluted cities and into the countryside. Like many other social movements, this so-called "mass tourism" was a major logistic and technological effort, sometimes by private clubs or unions, sometimes by entrepreneurs, and sometimes by centralized governments.

What's like this?

Holidays via the Free German Trade Unions



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