HBC notes that most of the available images of Geman school children taken during the NAZI era show the children wearing their ordinary civilian clothes. We notice a few images suggesting that some children wore their Hitler Youth (HJ) to school. One report indicates that this was not common, but we have only limited information at this time. Unlike Scouts or even more so the Communust Young Pioneers, schools did not sponsor the HJ abd the asctivities were not school based. There were, however, some connections. Children desiring to enter secondary schools and universities needed certification that they were in the HJ abd had a good record of service. In addition, an ibncreasing number of pro-NAZI teachers were appointed as the NAZI era continued who would have encouraged the HJ children. They may have even encouraged the children to wear their uniforms to school. And those youth rising to positions of authority were given favorable treatement and were difficult to discipline. School children in NAZI Germany did not wear school uniforms. This is interesting, because just about everone else in the country had a uniform. We are not sure why the NAZIs did not adopt school uniforms, perhaps they did not want to give parents, who remembered World War I, the idea that they were militarizing the schools. The children did have their Hitler Jugend (HJ) uniforms which they sometimes wore to school. One reader tells us that this was uncommon, although he remembers older boys wearing their HJ uniforms to school on occasions when there was some special event. Some boys did wear their black DJ/HJ short pants to school as they were a utilitarian garment with many pockets. [Wellershaus] Of course all the insignias and badges were on the brown shirt. There does not seem to have been a day when periodically children wear their uniforms to school as was the case for Scouts in America.
Unlike Scouts or even more so the Communust Young Pioneers, schools did not sponsor the HJ and the activities were not school based. We do not know tio what extent if any the HJ and school were coordinated. We do not know if questions were asked at school if children did not join the HJ. There were, however, some connections. We do not fully understand these connectiions and probably varied depending on the indivisdual HJ and school officials involved. We note school ceremonies involving the HJ with at least sone of the children wearing their uniforms. This woulsd have involved a degree of coordination. Children desiring to enter secondary schools and universities needed certification that they were in the HJ and had a good record of service. In addition, an ibncreasing number of pro-NAZI teachers were appointed as the NAZI-era continued who would have encouraged the HJ children. They may have even encouraged the children to wear their uniforms to school. And those youth rising to positions of authority were given favorable treatement and were difficult to discipline. There were also connections when city children were evacuated during the War. They were supervised by HJ leaders, but teachers went with them to oversee theior studies.
German school children with very few exceptions even during World War II did not wear uniform everyday,
except either during their service or as soldiers or members of one of the political power organizations (SS, SA). One HBC reader reports, "When my father came home from the War for holidays he went on to wear his uniform at home as many soldiers did. I believe that this was also the case in United States." [HBC note: Yes many in th military wore their uniforms duing the War. It was a bit different for Americans in that they were stationed overseas and could not go home until the War was over.] There were a wide variety of NAZI organizations affecting civilians. Thius many German civilians had non-military uniforms. Some were worn at work. Others were only one for meetings and special events.
School children in NAZI Germany did not wear school uniforms. This is interesting, because just about everone else in the country had a uniform--although they were often not worn except for meetings and special events. We are not sure why the NAZIs did not adopt school uniforms, perhaps they did not want to give parents, who remembered World War I, the idea that they were militarizing the schools. We do not, however, any documentation for this. It is interesting, however, that school children was the one large group in the Third Reich who were not uniformed.
As German children did not wear uniforms, the garments they wore to school were a good reflection of the way they normally dressed. Mother must have saw to it that they wore better clothes than for play, but boys for the most part do not seem to have really dressed up for school. In fact we see a more casual approach to schoolwear than in gthe 1920s. Some boys wore suits to school, especially the older boys in secondry school. Suits and ties seem much more common in the early 1930s when the NAZIs seized power, than at the end of the War. Of course the privations of the War may have been a factor, but the trend toward casual clothese was a clear trend even before the War began. We see see boys commonly wearing shorts without ties in warm weather, ading a sweater or jacket when it got cool. We still see boys wearing sailor suits in he 1930s, but less commonly in the 1940s. Most boys wore short pants until about 13-15 yes of age. Yonger boys might wear suspender or H-bar shorts. Teen agers sometimes wore knickers, especially in cold weather. We note more boys wearing long knickers (the Hitler Youth winter uniform) and long pants during the winter by the end of the War. We see boys mostly wearing knee socks or long stockings. Ankle socks do not seem to be very common, but we are not real sure what boys wore with long trousers. Younger boys might wears sandals, nut most boys wore shoes, both low-cut anf high-top shoes. Girls wore either
dresses or blouses and skirts. Some children wore their Hitler Youth uniformsto school.
There were no school uniforms during the NAZI era at most German schools. The boys wore their own clothes. There were differences depending on the level and type of school. The photographic record shows that primary boys mostly wore short pants and kneesocks or during the colder months long stockings. This was especially the case for the younger boys. Older boys wore shorts, knickers, and long pants. Both age and the type of school were factors here. Many parents let the boys wear long pants or knickers during the winter. Some children wore their Hitler Youth uniforms. For the most part this seems to have been a matter of individual choice. We do, however, see some classes where large numbers of boys wore their uniforms.
HBC has very limited information on the clothes worn in primary schools during the Third Reich. Except for the appearance of Hitler Youth uniforms, the clothes worn were quite similar to those worn during the Weimar Republic era (1919-32). Strangely, as uniforms were ordained for just about every one in NAZI Germany, school uniforms were not required for school children. Most boys wore short pants. During the colder winter months some boys wore long pants, but many wore shorts with knee socks or long stockings. Lederhosen were common as were English style school sandals.
Many boys in scecondary schools wore suits during the NAZI era, especially the 1930s. As far as wec can tell, there was no major change from the Weimar years, except a general trend toward formality. We still see, however many boys wearing suits to secondary schools. Ans we see some boys wearing their HJ uniforms. We do not know how common tghis was. Most school portraits show a relatively small number of boys wearing their uniforms to school. We see many photographs with none of the boys or only a few wearing their HJ uniforms. A few photographs show quite a number of boys wearing HJ uniforms. We are not sure if thisas a pecial day or if certain schools or teachers or even HJ leaders encouraged the boys to wear their uniforms. The availability of clothing was not at first seriously affected by the War, Large quantities of clothing was essentially looted from the occupied countries--especially France. The relatively dressey standards began to change somewhat during the War, especially by 1942-43 when the War began to go seriously against Germany.
The NAZI Party created special secondary-level schools to train part cadres. These were were both Nationalpolitische Erziehungsanstalt (NAPOLA) or National Political education schools. Most were for boys, but there were a few for girls as well. Later a smaller number of Adolf Hiltler Schools were established. Again I think the uniform was that of the Hitler Youth. I do not think there were destinctive school uniforms for these schools. I believe the boys at special party schools, like the Adolf Hitler schools wore Hitler Youth uniforms. I do not know of special school uniforms, but I could be wrong about this. These schools are a topic HBC has not yet been able to acquire much information about.
The children did have their Hitler Jugend (HJ) uniforms which they sometimes wore to school. We note many school portaits at the time with none or only a few of the children wearing their HJ uniforms. Some photographs show quite a few chldren wearing their HJ uniforms. There seems to have been no national policies on this. Some parents may have encouraged or discouraged this. Teachers or school authorities may also have had some impact. And the children themselves surely had some say in the matter. There does ot seem to have been a special day, as was common in America when children periodically wore their Scout uniforms.
One German reader tells us that this was uncommon, although he remembers older boys wearing their HJ uniforms to school on occasions when there was some special event. Some boys did wear their black DJ/HJ short pants to school as they were a utilitarian garment with many pockets. [Wellershaus] Of course all the insignias and badges were on the brown shirt. We have only a few images of school cildren wearing their HJ uniforms and do not yet fully understand how to interpret them.
Aryaman Stefan Wellershaus, e-Mail, July 30, 2002.
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