An uneven internationalism? West German youth and organised travel to Israel, c. 1958–c. 1967

Nikolaos Papadogiannis*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article shows that organised youth mobility programmes from West Germany to Israel in the late 1950s and 1960s were a testing ground for the internationalist visions of federal state institutions, diverse organisers and various young visitors. Such programmes largely helped reproduce an uneven internationalism, which prioritised contact between West Germans and Israeli Jews, while sidelining Arabs living in Israel and stereotyping them through an Orientalist lens. However, the way in which West German subjects framed such programmes was far from fixed. Shifting Cold War dynamics led Christian Democratic youth organisations in particular to develop contacts with Arabs in the Middle East even before the Six-Day War of 1967. Moreover, some participants began to think, albeit in a fragmented manner, about the context in which the Holocaust had emerged or about individual guilt. The article adds to the emerging literature on internationalism, which explores both its benevolent aspects and its blind spots. Moreover, in studying a broad array of youth subjects – including the secular left, Protestant youth and young Christian Democrats – the article helps enrich the study of internationalism and youth in West Germany both in relation to and beyond the New Left.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114–139
Number of pages26
JournalSocial History
Issue number1
Early online date20 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023


  • Youth
  • Travel
  • Internationalism
  • Germany
  • Israel


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