The NAZI Government: Children

Figure 1.--Hitler believed he could control adult Germans, but not win the unqualified alligence of all adults. He was correct. They had many experiences, educatiin, and had been exposed to free thought. The youth were different. He could contril their experiences and the ideas to which they would be exposed. He did not trust the school system to do this. His chosen instrument was the Hitler Youth Organization. And again he was correct. Young people were his most ardent supporters, most remaining loyal to the end. The Hitler Youth Organization fufilled the assignment Hitler entrusted to it and in the process ruined countless lives.

Hitler as he orcestrated his seizure of power had not focuded on children. He did not miss, however, the role that youth, mostly teenagers played in his rise to power. They helped genrrate enthusiasm for Hitler and the NAZI Party in a way his SA Strorm Trooper bully boys could have never done. As a result as Chancellor and head of the German state, he gave considerable attention to children and not just teenagers. The principal NAZI effort was the Hitler Youth Movement (HJ) which Hitler turmned into one of a a wide range of competing youth groups into a mass movement that virtually all German children had to join. As the HJ became the primary NAZI connction with youth, the NAZIs setout to demphasize the education system. Germany before Hitler seized power had one of the finest if not the fiest educational system in the world. This was not what Hitler wanted, especially because many German eduicators were anti-NAZI or apolitical. He wanted a school system that wiould not educate, but indoctrinate. Thus upon seizing power, his emphasis was on the Hitler Youth which was used to undermine the influence of parents, school, and church. He also set about to NAZIify Germn edication. Here he suceeded, but he never trusted the schools in the sam ay he trusted the Hitler youth. Despite this, the HJ is only part of the story of Hitler and children. It is perhaps the most important part of the story, but scarecly all of the story. The HJ included the Aryan majority that Hitler was grooming to seize and rule the future NAZI world. A wide range of NAZI programs affected children. The Jewish and other non-Aryan children of course were the most adversely affected, but they were hardly the only children who suffered and disappeard during the NAZI era. There were also Aryan German children who were affected. This is an underreported story.

The Hitler Youth

The Hitler Jugend (Hitler Youth), the NAZI party's youth movement, indoctrinated German youth to perpetuate the "1,000 year Reich." The Hitler Youth movement emphasized activism, physical training, NAZI ideology, especially nationalism and racial concepts, and absolute obedience to Hitler and the NAZI Party. Indoctrinating children in National Socialist idelogy was a key goal of the NAZI Party. Once Hitler assumed control over the German state, he used the Goverment to make the Hitler Youth the country's all encompasing youth movement. Hitler and other NAZIs leaders saw the indoctrination of young Germans as of critical importance. In the same year that they took power, the NAZIs organized German youth organizations into two branches of the Hitler Youth (Hitler Jugen), one branch for boys and one for girls. Membership was eventually made compulsory and all boys had to report to a neigborhood office to have his racial background checked and be registered for membership. There was then a typically elaborate introduction ceremony on the Füherer's birthday. The Hitler Youth was not just a German version of the Boy Scouts. The Hitler Youth were more similar to the Soviet Young Pioneers, but even with the Pioneers there were major differences. Hitler from the beginning saw the Hitler Youth movement as a tool to hardening boys for their future role of soldiers. He wanted a generation of "victorious active, daring youth, imune to pain." There was to be no "intelectual" training for the boys of the New Order, he saw intelectual pursuits as damaging to German youth. The NAZIs used the Hitler Jugend to educate German Youth " in the spirit of National Socialism " and subjected them to an intensive programme of Nazi propaganda. The NAZIs established the Hitler Jugend as a source of replacements for the Nazi Party formations. The Hitler Youth leadership in October, 1938 entered into an agreement with Himmler under which members of the Hitler Jugend who met SS standards would be considered as the primary source of recruitment for the SS. The NAZIs also used the Hitler Jugend for pre-military training. Special units were set up whose primary purpose was training specialists for the various military branches. HNC has compiled the following information on the Hitler Youth movement and the uniforms the boys wore.

German Schools

The NAZIs gave particularly attention to education and control of the German educational system. They were well awarethat it would be difficult to convert many adults and only aminority of Germand had ever voted for the NAZIs in democratic elections. The childrn were a different matter. They were thus determined to mold the new generation to accept NAZI pinciples. As the leader of the NAZI Teacher's League, Hans Schemm, put it: "Those who have the youth on their side control the future." As a result, after the NAZIs seized power in 1933, they quickly began applying totalitarian principles to all aspects of the German education system. Private schools were taken over or closed. Great emphasis was attached on racial "science", often termed "racial hygine", in NAZI education and this was quickly introduced into the curiculum. NAZI idelogy and physical-military training became other important aspects of the school program. Many teachers embraced the new Germany, but others were fired or left teaching. It is difficult to assess the relative importance of the two groups. It is known that many teachers were fired or replaced with political hacks during 1933-35, but HBC has no details on the numbers. Some of the best educators fled abroad. The quality of German education, once the leading system in Europe, declined. Again, however, it is difficult to assess this in quantative terms.

Parental Role

Church Role

Hitler and the NAZIs initiated an assault both on traditional Christian values, but religions institutions as well. The NAZI assault on Judism is best known. But here the focus were the Jews themselves and not the religion. One religion seen in more positive terms was Islam, in part because it was helful in the effort against Jews. It was Christianity that suffered most from the NAZIs, primarily because it posed the greatest danger to the NAZIs. Sects like the 7th Day Adventists were attacked because they opposed military conscriptiom. The mainstream church that suffered the greatest was the Catholics. Despite signing a Concordant with the Vatican in 1933, the NAZIs steadily undermined the power and influence of the Church in Germany and arrested many priests. Once World War II began, German policies toward religions varied from country to country. The Church in Poland was a symbol of Polish nationalism and relentlessly persecuted. Priests were arressted and thousand died in the concentration camps. The Church in France because of the anticlerical nature of the Revolution was less important as anational symbol and the NAZIs did not seek to totally destroy French national and cultural institutions, so it was not targetted by the NAZI occupiers.

NAZI Party Schools

The NAZI Party established secondary schools for carefully children. The were primarily for boys, but a few were also for girls. The schools were to train the Party elite. The major program was the Nationalpolitische Erziehungsanstalt (NPEA or NAPOLA). The other kind of secondary schools created by the NAZIs were called the Adolf Hitler Schulen (AHS--Adolf Hitler Schools). The AHS were founded because the SS essentially seized control of the NAPOLA. Reichsorganisationsleiter Dr. Robert Ley (DAF leader) and Baldur von Schirach (Hitler Youth leader) agreed to set up the new schools in January 1937. The schools as far as we know were very similar. The primary difference was simply who controlled them.

Racially Targeted Children

Children of Politically Targeted Groups

Handicapped Children

German Jews were such a small part of the German population that once the protectiion of the law was removed by the NAZIs, they were defensless. They were not the only defenseless group the NAZIs targeted. The most defenseless of all were handicapped children, both the phyically and mentally handicapped children. Germany at the time that the NAZIs seized power had the world's most advanced system to care for the handuicapped. Societies have cimmonly ignored the handicapped. The NAZIs in contrast launched a major effort targetting the handicapped. Rsources were diverted from programs to assist the hndicapped. School childtren were given math problems cakculating how much money was being 'wasted' on the handicapped. Various mehods were adopted to reduce the hndicapped population such as sterilization and nortions. NAZI Racial Hygene Courts was an important part of the process. Family dictors were required to report handicpped individuals to the Court. This effort culminated in euthenesia, a clinical term for murder. The T-4 killing proigram was launched at the beginning of the War. The NAZIs attempted to keep the oprigrm secret, but brave churchmen spoke out. The killing was not dione by the SS, but by resopected members of the German medical establishmnt. Hitler gave the job of killing Jews to the SS who took measures to keep the killings secret. The T-4 Program would priove to be a dry run for the Holocaust. The techniques and facilities used in killing Jews were developed as part of the T-4 program.

Community Aliens

Most German youth confirmed to what the NAZIs demanded. Siome did nt anbd becanme what might be called community aliens. Rejecting the mainstream ideas is oftenfiffucult in human society. Some societies were more tolerant than others. In NAZI Germany nin-cnfrmist behvior even among youth became dangerous. Anbdmany young people lost their freedom and evenbtully their lives because of it. Non-conformity was essentially a crime in NAZI Germany. The image we have of the NAZI era is summarized by the slogan 'Ein Reich, Ein volk, Ein Führer' (one state, one people, one leader) suggesting an entire country in lock step hehind Hitler and the NAZIs. Actually the NAZIs were amazingly sucessful in forging the German nation into the instrument for something most had no desire to do, wage another world war. That said there were groups that did not share the NAZI visision. Most wiorkers had supported the Socialist anbd Communist Parties before the War. The NAZIs put an end to the free labor movement. Most adults learned to keep quiet. Some young people refused to do this or did not fully understand the consequences of non-conformity. There is no way of knowing how many young people were involved. And the NAZIs steadily internified the campaign to confirm. A major step here was making membership in the Hitler Youth mandatory (1936). Not only was membership mandatory, but HJ activities began taking up more and more of a young person's time and a steadily increasing demnd for conformity. This included time over the weekend when children were not in school. In fact actvities were purposefully scheduled on Sunday to keep youth out of church and church actvities. As a result, non-confomist youth resisted the forced inclusion in the HJ which was a violation of the law and participation in HJ activities. This included both passive and active actions. Rebellious groups bgan to informlly form, including both wirking-class and middle-class teenagers. [Peukert] Thousands of teenagers refused to participate in the HJ. The best known were the Edelweiss Pirates and the Swing Movement. Thousands may seem like a large number, but it should be noted that the HJ at its peak had over 8 million youth. Hitler becanme enraged when he heard of these resisters. And the full force of the NAZI state was deployed against them. Many wound up in concentrations camps and psychiatic hospitals. Few survived the War.

Unalthletic Children

Hitler's goal was to raise boys that were "swift as a greyhound, as tough as leather, and as hard as Krupp's steel." The phrase was often and began used as a NAZI slogan. His instrument fordoing this was the Hitler Youth. Boys that were atheletacally oriented did well under this system, even enjoying it. Most boys were able to adapt. But not all boys are athletically oriented. Many are in fact not very good at atletics. Before the NAZIs these boys could often do very well at schol where academics were stressed. This changed during the NAZI era when the Hitler Youth became mandatory and central to a young person's experience.


A counterpoint to the NAZI program of exterminating Jews and other groups considered to be sub-human was the Lebensborn program, a secret NAZI program to enrich German racial lines with pure Nordic Aryan blood. The Lebensborn program was a pet project of SS Reichsführer Himmler. The program was launched in Germany in a small way to encourage and assist German girls to give birth to racially pure children, even if they were unmarried. We have noted some difference of opinion about the Lebensborn homes. After the Germans launched World War II and occupied large stretches of Eastern Europe, they proceeded to kidnap thousands of children who were deemed to be Aryan. Himmler indicated that these children had to be Germanized or killed because he though Aryan populations outside of the Reich were a threat. The Lebensborn program also affected other countries such as Norway--albeit on a smaller scale. Estimates suggest that 0.20-0.25 million children, mostly Polish, were eventually involved in this program. Only a small number were ever returned to their parents.

Blood Guilt


Peukert, D.J.K. The Weimar Republic: The Crisis of Classical Modernity (Middlesex, England, The Penguin Press, 1991).


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Created: 7:04 PM 9/17/2018
Last updated: 7:04 PM 9/17/2018