Hitler Youth: The Future of Germany The Early Movement The Organization of the Hitler Youth Activities of the Hitler Youth Rival Youth Movements Hitler Youth In and After WWII Links The Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend-HJ) were for Hitler the future of the Nazi party. Hitler's dream of a thousand year Reich could only be accomplished through the youth, which we redeemed the most important aspect of Germany's future as a powerful nation. 'The future of the German nation depends on its youth, and the German youth shall have to be prepared for its future duties. ' (i) The youth were important because they would continue the Nazi legacy and spread propaganda to future generations. Hitler was so obsessed with his quest for the future of Germany, that he devoted most of his endeavors, such as the acquisition of Lebensraum and the elimination of the subhumans, for the purpose of gaining more land for the future generations. Hitler was not some all mighty God that was able to just snap his fingers and the youth would follow him, he was aided in the fact that the youth were on a quest of their own: independence. They were energetic, full of life, and had an overwhelming love for Germany along with spirit and a quest to find their position in life.
Hitler recognized these characteristics of the youth and decided to incorporate them into his plan for the National Socialist German Worker's Party (NSDAP or Nazi Party) to flourish. These characteristics and Hitler's involvement became the leading tragedy and inspiration of the German youth movement. This youth movement began before World War I, was the result of the industrial revolution, and came to be known as the 'Youth Revolution. ' (ii) The Early Movement In the 1920's, the German youth were involved in about two thousand groups and organizations. The most popular organization was the Wandervogel, which was popular due to the involvement of sports. Boys were able to go on weekend retreats, where they would hike and learn to survive on their own in the wilderness. Organized sporting events of soccer and other various competitions kept the interests of the children.
The Wandervogel were noted for their love of the land, not the new, modern conveniences of the cities. Hiking and skiing were chosen over activities such as watching a movie or going to a dance. The Wandervogel, which was formed November 4, 1901 ( ), reflected the main attitudes of the of the youth movement. American Boy Scouts saluting Hitler Youth in Munich in 1935. Koch p. 196.
In some ways the Wandervogel was a manifestation of the perceptible mood of boredom and restlessness appearance of Wilhelm ian Germany was little more than a facade which concealed latent tensions beneath the surface. (iv) The youth movement was a rejection of the Weimar government, which was one of the reasons why they were so easily supportive of the Nazi regime. They were also disenchanted with the older generation and their new sets of values: work and money. The Hohe Meissner meeting of 1913 showed the spirit of the youth. (v) The youth wanted to rejuvenate Germany and were so serious in their convictions that they were approached by a variety of people and organizations. These people included reformers, intellectuals and critics of Weimar Germany. They wanted the youth to become their allies, but they were making a serious mistake. This mistake was that they expected that the youth to be led by adults, but the youth were not willing to give up their independence.
Start of the Hitler Youth On July 4, 1926, the NSDAP held a convention (Parteitag) where youth leaders and party members attended. The theme was 'Educational Questions and Youth Organizations. ' At this convention the Nazi party agreed to the formation of a Nazi youth group named the Hitler Youth (HJ). Kurt Gruber was appointed Reichsfuehrer of the Bund deutsche r Arbeiterjugend (German Youth Workers Organization) and adviser for youth affairs on the NSDAP Reichsleitung. Hitler officially recognized these decisions on July 27, 1926. (vi) Hitler decided that if the youth loved the outdoors, they would also love weapons; unfortunately, he was right. The youth loved weapons and the programs set by the Schutzstaffel or SS.
The programs involved all the activities the youth normally would do in their other organizations, with the exception of the use of weapons. (vii) Dummy hand grenade throwing. Koch p. 164. Three of Hitler's seven points of business for the German people dealt directly or indirectly with education in the Third Reich. Point 4 states that the state must take the sport of the youth to an unheard-of-level. With Point 6 the state must emphasize the teaching of racial knowledge in schools. Point 7 dealt indirectly with education, it stated that the state must awaken patriotism and national pride in all its citizens.
This is clearly a goal that was enforced in the HJ. (v.) Back to Top Organization of Hitler Youth Hitler Youth uniforms. Constable p. 110 Enrollment / Membership The HJ was the youth's way of making their voice heard and acknowledged. Enrollment in the HJ became mandatory March of 1939. When membership became mandatory, parents were warned that the kids would be taken away and sent to other homes or orphanages. Parents, who kept their children out of the HJ and were found guilty, had to serve severe prison sentences. (ix) The youth were fully incorporated into Hitler's dream of a Nazi society by the 1930's. They had their own uniform and a creed that officially recognized them as an organization.
In December of 1936, in order to complete his dream of a sound future in the youth of Germany, Hitler issued this decree: 1. The whole German youth inside the region of the Reich are incorporated into the Hitler Youth. 2. The whole German youth, outside of home and school, is physically, spiritually, and morally to be educated in the Hitler Youth in the spirit of National Socialism to the service of Volk and Volk community. 3.
The task of the education of the whole German youth in the Hitler Youth is given over to the Reich Youth leader of the NSDAP. He holds the office of a Highest Reich Authority with its seat in Berlin and is directly responsible to the Fuhrer and Reich Chancellor. 4. The legal orders and general administrative regulations requisite to the execution and completion of this law will be issued by the Fuhrer and Reich Chancellor. (x) This Decree outlawed the Concordat of 1933, which stated the Catholic Youth organization should not be hindered in any way, by any other organization, but Hitler disregarded this and incorporated them into the HJ anyway. (xi) The boys were taught to respect the Nazi party and live up to their creed by learning from the Nazi Primer, which was the official handbook of the Hitler Youth.
Mein Kampf, Hitler's bibliography, was considered their 'Bible. ' They learned of the superior race: the Nordic race. According to the Nazi Primer, 'when considering bodily form, the HJ have to take into account above all things size and shape of body, skull, color of hair, the eyes and the skin, as well as the texture of the hair. ' (xii) Upon reading the section entitled the German races, one can clearly see the intention that the Nordic race is above all the best in the German region. The Primer gives example after example of why one race is inferior to another. (x ) HJ military training camp Koch p. 196 The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service forced teachers and professors to join the National Socialist Teachers League.
In order to join this league, they had to provide proof that they were Aryan, but they were not allowed to teach unless they joined this league. (xiv) Hitler rewrote the curriculum, so the teachers were instructed of what they could and could not teach. Hatred of the Jews and subhumans was the main theme in all courses, even math. Problem solving included word problems with questions about ammunition or the cost of maintaining an insane asylum. (Mentally ill people we reconsidered a burden on society.) The HJ organization gave the youth the chance to find their place in life. The colorful banners, parades, uniforms, status and sense of purpose were all aspects of the organization that the youth bought into and encouraged them to join. The HJ was the youth's way of making their voice heard and acknowledged.
Leaders and Youth Officers Baldur von Schirach is the most renowned HJ leader. Schirachjoined the Nazi party and the SA (Sturmabteilung-Nazi paratroopers) in 1925. In 1929, he became the leader of the National Socialist Students Union. He became Reich youth leader of the NSDAP in 1931, then Youth Leader of the German Reich in June 1933.
The first thing Schirach did, after attaining this position, was send fifty HJ to occupy the national offices of the Reich Committee of German Youth Associations, which was an organization that Hitler had wanted to gain control. (xv) Membership in the HJ was remarkable. In 1932,107,956 boys were enrolled. The end of 1939 enrolled almost eight million boys enrolled in the HJ. Part of the reason enrollment grew so fast was that Schirach knew how to play on the sympathies of the youth. He had gone through the youth movement as well and was only 26 years old upon being appointed leader of the HJ. He knew that sport, outdoor activities, and independence was important to the youth.
Heal so knew that they had a striking nationalistic attitude. They were against the Weimar government and so were the Nazi's. Schirach and Hitler Youth Koch p. 68 Part of the Reason the HJ was successful was that youth led youth. In other words, the youth were promoted to positions of leadership that enhanced their sense of independence. Schirach had many responsibilities as the HJ leader, such as dissolving other groups or incorporating them into the HJ.
Educating the youth was the most important responsibilitySchirach had, as he stated here: I am responsible to the Reich that the entire youth of Germany will be educated physically, morally and spiritually in the spirit of the National Socialist Idea of the State. (xvi) Schirach kept his position as Reich Youth Leader of the NSDAP until 1940, when he was appointed Gauleiter, Reichsgovernor and Reich's Defense commissioner of Vienna. Eventhough he acquired all of these new positions, he still retained his job as Reichsleiter of Education. Arthur Axmann was chosen to replace Schirach. Leaders and Instructors of the HJ. Koch p. 196 Back to Top Activities of the Hitler Youth Ages of the Youth In a speech at the Reichsparteitag of 1935, Hitler said, 'Heal one, who owns the youth, gains the Future!' He then went onto describe the different age groups and possibilities for the future the youth had. They could enter the program at the age of six, then at ten they graduated into the Jungvolk.
At fifteen years of age they were officially Hitler Youth. As a Jungvolk, the boys had to swear an oath, basically saying that they were willing to give up their lives for Germany and Hitler... The boy of the Hitler Youth will join the SA, the SS and the other formations, and the SA man and the SS man will one day join the Labor Service, and from there he will go to the Armed Forces, and the soldiers of the people will return again to the organization of Movement, the Party, the SA, the SS. (xvii) A 'courage test' of the HJ. Koch p. 164 The Different Divisions Upon entering the HJ, the boys were given a choice of entering some other different branches within the organization. Those interested in flying could enter the Flinger-HJ (the flying youth) ori f motors and automobiles were of interest, there was the Motor-HJ (the motor or mechanical Youth). The Marine-HJ (navy) and the Waffen-SS (weapons and protection squad) were branches for the more military-oriented youth.
Signal, medical, and musical units were also options for the youth. (xv ) HJ calvary unit. Koch p. 164. HJ in river-crossing exercise. Koch p. 164 HJ building model gliders. Koch p. 164 If they did not join one of these detachments, but showed promise in leadership abilities, they could be chosen to join the instead of the army. The SS gave them opportunity to use violence and weapons, which they found extremely useful when dealing with Jews or other subhumans.
Boys had to stay in the HJ until they were eighteen, then were encouraged to enter the army or forced to enter the labor service then the army. The labor service was six months of work out in the country. Helping out on a farm, rebuilding roads, or beautifying parks were the usual forms of labor. (xix) Right Land-. Koch p. 196. Left HJ pitching hay for farm-duty program. Constable.
132. Back to Top Rival Youth Movements in the WWII Era The Nazi's might have failed to reform all the German youth in believing their brainwashing, but they did manage to make some gruesome warriors even though the youth values had changed. These Youth were more interested in weapons and survival in the newer a, than dancing or independence. SS officers that used terror tactics to enforce rule trained the Youth. The youth learned these tactics and put them to use in trying to get other children to join the organization or get them to conform to society. These techniques would often work, but not in the cases of the Swing kids and Edelweiss Pirates.
Edelweiss Pirates At fourteen it was possible to quit school. This allowed for resistance youth groups to form. The Edelweiss Pirates and Swing Kids were two such groups. The Edelweiss Pirates met on street corners and had a deep passionate hate for the HJ with the slogan of " Eternal war on the Hitler Youth' (xx). Street brawls were a sign that the two groups had met. The pirates took every opportunity possible to attack the HJ, and loved which was hindered by the HJ.
Swing Kids The other resistance group was the Swing kids. These kids loved American jazz music and they especially loved dancing even though this was forbidden. They came from middle class families and met at nightclubs. They had money and wore the newest styles of clothing from Britain and America. (xxi) Back to Top Role of Hitler Youth in and after WWII The youth had many roles during WWII; they were used as propagandists, reinforcements, and warriors. At first their role was to act as propaganda enforcers in the occupied territories such as France, the Benelux countries, and Norway. They youth we reused to help set up youth movements in these countries and to enforce the Nazi ideology.
They also had another very important role as propagandists that of being role models to siblings and the younger generations so that they too would fully believe in the HJ movement. (xxii) Their role as reinforcements was to help the army in areas they did not have the time or manpower to maintain. The German army had a shortage of military so the different HJ detachments were used to defend certain areas. They were considered the Volk sturm or home guard. They would ambush passing allied detachments, which usually ended up in their death. The HJ worked along with women and men over sixty to build up barricades or dig trenches to trap Soviet tanks. (xx ) The HJ had a renewed sense of worth. With the onset of war, materials such as copper, scrap metal, razor blades and so on, were needed.
The youth attacked this mission with such a determination that they often collected more than was necessary. (xxiv) The role of being warriors was realized when the youth were used in actual battles such as that of the battle for Berlin. This was a crude move on Axmann's part. The enemy did not want to kill youth, but they had to due to the ferocity of the HJ. 'They fought bitterly for every yard; the help of one comrade for another was so spontaneous and unselfish that it was unequalled. ' (xxv) Signaling unit of Berlin HJ -- six months before Battle for Berlin.
Koch p. 228. The division between the Jungvolk and the HJ was abolished, so boys as young a sten were fighting on the front lines. Because of the shortage of men, a draft was conscripted. Any German male between the ages of sixteen and sixty were incorporated into the army. This meant that there were very few older leaders for the younger HJ. Fifteen year-old boys would find themselves commanding 500 troops, many of which were significantly older.
HJ on the Eastern Front. Koch p. 228 The youth were valiant fighters; many times fighting until the division was no more. Inadequate ammunition also took its toll on the young warriors. One group was told to attack Soviet tanks with Anti-tank mines that were supposed to stick to the Soviet armor. The mines did not stick so the youth ran along side the tanks, holding the mines to the tank, until they were both blown apart. (xxvi) Youth Activities after the War The youth disbanded after the war.
They no longer wore the showy costumes or paraded through the streets. The days of playing war games and hiking in the woods were over. The youth had to face the reality of what they had done. A quote from Rilke, a World War II historian, sums up the feelings after the war, 'Who talks of victory?
To endure is all'. (xxvii) The youth lacked basic educational skills. In the Nazi schools they were taught Nazi ideology. Reading, writing and grammar skills were not emphasized as much as being able to understand strategies, anti-Semitism, or propaganda. The youth experienced things they would only have read about in books, so they felt the idea of going back to school was kind of ridiculous.
Even though they felt this way they knew they had to learn. An American professor visiting at Marburg University noticed the determination: To me and my colleagues these young men and women displayed unusual intellectual earnestness, characterized by a deep understanding of the problems of the time and by a burning desire to acquire reliable knowledge and instruction and information about the methods of scientific work. (xxv ) A few members of the Nazi Youth gathered in 1946 to reminisce about the past and former friends. They each knew of only a few other Nazi Youth, so they decided to invite them all to their meeting place. The others met with them and there was a surprising air of camaraderie. All differences were forgotten; they had all lived through the Nazi era. (xxix) The idea of re-creating the youth was never brought up. The comrades figured that the new generation could start up an organization if they wanted.
The new generation eventually did start their own organization, one that was just as fulfilling to them as the previous movement had been for the Hitler Youth. This time a sinister man named Hitler did not control their destinies, futures, or fears; the youth controlled their own lives. Back to Top Hitler Youth Links German Boys giving a salute and Hither Youth throwing mock grenades Hitler Youth Recruting Poster and German boys saluting Hitler Youth in a Parade past Striecher Another Paper on the HJ by John S. Massing ill Back to Top
i) Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression Vol. 1 ch 7 Means Used by the Nazi Conspirators in Gaining Control of the German State, http// web online 2/11/98. (ii) Peter D. Stachura, The German Youth Movement 1900-1945, (New York: St.
Martin " press, 1981) Page 2.
Peter D. Stachura, Nazi Youth in the Weimar Republic, (Oxford: Clio Books, England: 1975), Page 2.
iv) Ibid. (v) Stachura, The German Youth Movement 1900-1945, 22.
vi) Stachura, Nazi Youth in the Weimar Republic, 22-23. (vii) Col. John R. Eating and William Sheridan Allen ed., The Third Reich: The New Order, (Alexandria, Virginia: Time Life Books, 1989) Page 135.
v.) Louis L. Snyder, ed., Hitler's Third Reich: A Documentary History, (Chicago: Nelson Hall, 1981) Page 46.
ix) William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960) Page 253.
x) Lawrence D. Walker, Hitler Youth and Catholic Youth, (Washington D.C. : The Catholic University of America Press, 1970) Page 160-161.
xi) Shirer, 253. (xii) Fritz Brennecke, comp. & Ed. The Nazi Primer, (New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1966) Page 15.
x ) Ibid. 13-35. (xiv) Klaus P. Fischer, Nazi Germany: Anew History, (New York: Continuum, 1995), Page 347.
xv) Shirer, 253. (xvi) Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression Vol. 1, ch 7 Means Used by the Nazi Conspirators in Gaining Control of the German State, web Online 2/11/98. (xvii) Shirer, 253. (xv ) Ibid. (xix) Shirer, 254. (xx) Detter J.K. Peukert, 'Life in the Third Reich: Young People for or Against the Nazis?' History Today, Oct. 1995.
vs. 35 page 18. (xxi) Ibid. 22. (xxii) Russel Miller, World War II: The Resistance (Alexandria, Virginia: Time Life Books, 1979) Page 94.
xx ) Gerald Simons, World War II: Victory in Europe, (Morristown, New Jersey: Time Life Books, 1982) Page 38.
xxiv) H.W. Koch, The Hitler Youth: Origins and Developments 1922-45, (New York: Stein and Day, 1975) Page 233.
xxv) Simons, 61. (xxvi) Hans Dollinger, The Decline and Fall of Nazi Germany, (New York: Bonanza Books, 1967) Page 78.
xxvii) Walter Z. Laquer, Young Germany: A History of the German Youth Movement, (New York: Basic Books Publishing Co. Inc., 1962) Page 216.
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