Hitler's Revolution: Control over Youth

NAZI revolution children
Figure 1.--Until the NAZIs, German Governments did not interfere greatly in the family and the raising of children. This was recognized as a family responsibility, often guided by church teachings. Schools promoted patriotism and civil virtues, but did not promote particular political parties. Youth groups were sponsored by various groups and it was up to the family as to whether the child joined. This all changed with Hitler's revolution. He moved to gain control of German youth. This began with young people when they entered school, but in an even more powerful way when they were inducted into the Hitler Youth. Both were mandatory, thus even anti-NAZI parents could not prevent their children from exposure to NAZI teachings. Here little German girls are showing off their NAZI salutes at a summer NAZI rally in Coburg during 1934. They look like Kindergarteners with older girls in the back. They seem to be led by a teacher and a BDM girl.

Hitler wanted control over young people which meant replacing the family as the major formitive force in a German child's life. The most obvious mechanism for this was the German school system. For the NAZIs, however, this was not an ideal mechsnism. Many teachers disliked the NAZIs or were not ethusiastic with National sdocialism. Teachers of course could be replaced, but many reliavle NAZIs did not have teaching qualificatiions. Thus it woukd take some time to NAZIify the schools and educatuinal establishment. And molding German youth was not something that Hitler wanted to postpone. And he had a much better mechanism for this--the Hitler Youth Organization (HJ). This was an organization that the NAZI Party already controlled and HJ leaders did not need academic credentials. Thus very quickly the NAZIs moved to enlarge the HJ and quickly turned a relstively small part of the Germasn Youth Movement into a mass youth organization. Many young peopke began joining the HJ after the NAZIs seized power (1933). But age youth movement was not what Hitler wanted. The NAZIs proceeded to either include other groups in the HJ or ban other groups. Only Jewish and Catholic groups were ctemporarily exempted. Hitler moved to require all Aryan boys and girls to join the HJ at age 10 years (1936). This put virtually all German children in NAZI hands.

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.

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 encompassing 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 Jugend), one branch for boys and one for girls. Membership was eventually made compulsory and all boys had to report to a neighborhood office to have his racial background checked and be registered for membership. There was then a typically elaborate introduction ceremony on the Führer'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, immune to pain." There was to be no "intelectual" training for the boys of the New Order, Hitler 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 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. HBC has compiled the following information on the Hitler Youth movement and the uniforms the boys wore.



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Created: 7:45 PM 7/10/2010
Last updated: 7:45 PM 7/10/2010