German Personal Experiences (1930s)

Figure 1.--For many German boys of this period, their participation in youth groups was an important part of their childhood. Youth moveements were well established an diverse in the early 1930s. After the NAZIs seized power, groups were either banned or folded into the Hitler Youth.

We Have achived quite a number of pages showing the experiences of German boys in the 1930s. The boys wear quite a range of outfits. Suits were becoming less common than in the 1920s. Many boys wore sweaters to school. Most boys wore short pants, but older boys might wear knickers or long pants. Sailor suits were still popular in the early 30s. Most boys wore ether kneesocks or long stockings. For many German boys of this period, their participation in youth groups was an important part of their childhood. Youth moveements were well established an diverse in the early 1930s. After the NAZIs seized power, groups were either banned or folded into the Hitler Youth.

German Boy (1930s-40s)

A German reader has provided us a fascinating look at his experiences and clothing growing up in NAZI Germany and his experiences as a teen-ager after World War II. He explains that the type was strongly by the historical situation, i.e. the Third Reich before World war II and the sad times during the War and the poor and reviving situation after the War. Clothing was influenced by the economical situation of my parents which was always very good, and of course by my age. He focused on hosiery.


A HBC reader interviewed a German man named Max in the city of Schwerin. Max recalls that he and his brothers wore identical short pants sailor suits for chruch and special occassions. His mother insisted that he and his brothers wear long dark stockings with their sailor suits. Our German reader has made many valuable contributions to HBC and is also submitting valuable interview such as this one. The following are Max's responses with comments in brackets.

Alfons Heck (1928-2005)

Alfons Heck wrote two memoirs and was the subject of a HBO documetary focusing on his boyhood experiences in the Hitler Youth. Alfons grew up in Wittlich. He was broughtup by his grandmother. He was fascinated by Hitler and the NAZIs when he joined the Hitler Youth at age 10 in 1938. By that time it was virtually complsory for all German children to join at ahe 10. Heck narrated a HBO special "Heil Hitler! Confessions of a Hitler Youth", explaining how millions of children were swept up into the Hitler Youth, many becoming devoted followers of the Führer. Heck in his memoirs also writes anout his post-War expeiences when he repudiated the NAZIs and had to come to terms with the Holocaust.

Unidentified family (Germany, 1929- )

This German family photograohic album begins with 1929. Se would normally place an album in the family section, but there are relatively few family photographs in this album. We do not know just where in Germany the family lived. Only a few photographs at the front, however, are dated. We know it continues into at least the mid-1930s because there are some NAZI images. There are also some portraits before 1929, presumarily of various relatves. Many of the pages are of boys both school and camp scenes. The school scenes are mostly group or athletic scenes. The boys seem to belong to a youth group, but before 1933 not the Hitler Youth. Several of the camp photographs focus on two boys, presumably brothers of the family here. The school scenes do not seem to focus on sny individuals. There is a public scene, we think at the school, which is some kind of NAZI celebrtion. Its not the NAZI takeover which occurred in January. Perhaps it is Hitler's birthday. Many of the later snapshots in the album, in contrast, to the frst photographs are girls and women.

Stern, Edgar E. (Early-1930s)

Edgar E. Stern was a Jewish writer born in Speyer, Germany. As a boy growing up in Speyer, Edgar was known as "Egon". Stern writes interestingly of his childhood in Speyer in a book entitled The Peppermint Train. The family was forced to flee the country in 1936 because of Hitler's persecution of the Jews.

Gerhard Thamm (The 1930s-40s)

Gerhard Thamm has published a fascinating book, Boy Soldier: A German Teenager at the NAZI Twilight. Gerhard grew up in Lowe Silesia. Silesia was an area of Poland annexed by Prussia in the 18th century. After World War II it was returned to Poland by the Soviets who annexed huge areas of eastern Poland. Gerhard at the age of 15 was conscripted into the German Army in 1945. Afyter the War he managed o get to West Germany and worked for the U.S. Army, eventually becoming a CIA agent.

Stefan Wellershaus (1930s-40s)

A German boy tells us what he can remember about growing up during the NAZI era, he was quite young. His first recollections are the aftermath of Reichs-Kristallnacht. He remembers more about World War II and its aftermath and how is family coped with the post-war occupation. He provides an especially insightful study of the German self image.

Wolfgang F. Bank (1927- )

Wolgang F. Bank has created a wonderfull website about his experiences as a boy in NAZI Germany both before and during World War II. He lived in Blankenburg, a small town of 13,000 inhabitants located close to the Harz mountains in eastern Germany. The town was not bombed during the War, but many wounded soldiers were sent to local hotels and other facilities to recover. His boyhood mermories are particularly interesting. There are many interesting comments on his schools and school friends. There are also details about post-War Germany in both the Russian and American occupation zones. His account centers on a photographic album that he kept as a boy which included a variety of fascinating images of life in Germany.

Alsatian Boy (1930s-40s)

Tomi Ungerer has provided us a fascinating view of his Alsatian boyhood during World War II. His Tomi: A Childhood Under the Nazis was published in 1998) and by describes life in NAZI occupied Alsace from the viewpoint of the author, born in 1931. The book provides a great deal of information about Alsace, quite a lot about daily life under the Nazis, but unfortunately for HBC's perspective, only limited information about about clothing. The illustrations are particularly good; many of these are the work of the author, a talented artist.

Sudeten Germans

A HBC reader has suggested a book written by Alois Harasko Bilder aus dem Sudetenland. Th Sudetenland is an area awarded to the new country of Czecheslovakia by the Versailles Peace Treaty ending World War I. It had a large German minority which were used by the NAZIs as an excuse to dismember Czechoslovakia in 1938-39. The text is in German. The experiences of several diffent boys are discussed, including a description of their clothes.

German Boy: Wolfgang

Wolfgang W.E. Sammuel has published a very highly regarded autobiography, German Boy. We have not yet had the opporunity to read it. I just saw an announcement of an English edition at German Sense, 920 River Street, Iowa City, IA 52246. 424 pages, $15.95, softcover

German Girl: Irmgard Hunt (1930s-40s)

This is a fascinating account told through the eyes of a little growing up in the Third Reich and then coming terms as an adolescent with what had happened. Irmgard's account is especially interested because she lived in Berchtesgaden. Her father taught her to do the Hitler salute as a toddler. And it was at Berchtesgaden that she was photographed sitting on Hitler's lap. Her parents admired Hitler, her grandfather hated him. Perhaps the most harrowing moment in the book is when her teacher tries to get information on her grandfather's anti-Hitler views. After the War she came to America where she lived most of her adult life. Her account is an important addition to the literature of the Germans and the Third Reich.

Unidentified German boy (1930s-40s)

Here we have an unidentified German boy photgraphed we think in the late 1930s, but perhaps the 1940s. While we unfortnunately know nothing about the boy or his family. We suspect that his father may be away in the sevice. While we have no family details, the portrait with his mother provides a detailed look at how a boy at the time would have dressed up. German boys wearing short pants still commonly wore long stockings when the weather got cold.


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Created: 10:56 PM 3/10/2007
Last updated: 11:07 PM 11/25/2007