Figure 1.--This sensative and utimately tragic story addresses the mixed emotions that German boys had about the NAZIs and the New Order--even boys of partial Jewish ancestry.
A West German TV film The World that Summer was based on the book by Robert Muller about a youngster in the Hitler Jugend during the mid-1930s. As with many German boys at the time, Hannes is very keen to excel and be awarded his HJ dagger. At the same time he has a guilty secret--a Jewish grandmother whom he dearly loves. He is this torn between his comrades in the Hitler Youth and his grandmother. The film is set in Berlin during the Summer 1936 Olympic Games. It is one of the better films I have seen about the Hitler Youth.
No information is available on the filmography yet. The Title in German is "Die Welt in jenem Sommer".
The movie takes place summer 1936 during the Olympic Games in NAZI Germany.
The principal character is Hannes Hacker played by Jan Schwarzbauer (figure 2). This was Jans only film. Other leading actors are Katrin Schaake and Hermann Lause as Hannes parents, Christiane Carstens as his sister.
The boy in the film is worried because he is friends with a youngster who is a keen young Hitler Jugend member and also very nosy. Tragically a corrupt NAZI official finds out about the boy's grandmother. The film was set in the mid-1930s before the War. The NAZI program of Aryanizing (stealing) Jewish property was just beginning. He moves into her apartment, in effect stealing it. He does not throw the boy's grandmother out but torments her. She in the end commits suiside.
I think a boy would have had difficulty in the HJ if his Jewish ancestry was widely known--even one fourth. The German termed for children of mixed ancestry was "mischling". A child with one Jewish grandparent in 1935 was categorized as a Mischling, Second Degree. This was part of the Nuremburg Laws which deprived German Jews of their citizenship. I believed they were allowed to join the Hitler Youth, although they would have been descrinated against in school and employment. Many of their parents did not want them to join, others did not want attention drawn to them bu not joining. The other boys, if it was knowm, ceratingly would have taunted them. At summer camp it could have been very difficult. I do not believe a Mischling, First Degree would have been allowed to join. The boy in this film took pains to hide his identity. An HBC contributor notes, "As to the Nuremburg Laws etc, the regime was relatively tolerant to citizens of mixed Jewish German blood, at least to begin with." Here I think he means quater Jewish and not half Jewish.
Figure 2.--The main character of the film is Hannes Hacker played by Jan Schwarzbauer. He is torn between his interest in the Hitler Youth and the devotion to his Jewish grandmother. Note how the boys all wear open collars.
Robert Muller wrote the book in English some time after the war. I assume he was a refugee from the Nazi regime. A English contributor to HBC remembers reading the book as a schoolboy, attracted by the cover art of the HJ uniforms! He found it very moving. The movie is also very moving--although there is a sad ending. he publication date was 1959 and the author says in an afternote that he drew upon his own experiences living in Germany during the 1930s.
A German girl with similar experiences wrote an insighful account of hher experiences, Ilse Koehn, Mischling, Second Degree: My Childhood in Nazi Germany (Puffin Plus: Hardmondsworth: 1978). The response of German Jewish children varied and of course here the attitudes of parents had an important impact. The younger children of course did not comprehend the events swirling around them. Most hated the NAZIs. Many German Jews, however, were highly assismilated and many boys in assimilated families were drawn to the the NAZIs and Hitler Youth by the pagentry, uniforms, and fellowship. Full Jewish boys were of course ostrasized. Partial Jews or Mischlings sometimes did participate, especially in the early years before it was clear what the NAZIs were doing. Many of these boys like Hannes here were conflicted by the allure of the Hitler Youth and what the NAZIs were doing to their relatives.
Unfortunately I do not remember precisely the details on the costuming. The costuming, however, looks very accurate from the attached clips. One way of telling that this is a movie is that the boys are dresses so perfectly uniform. In actual photographs of Hitler Youth there are usually small differences in the boys' uniforms. This is bcause the uniforms were purchased by the parents. They were made in different shops at different times. Some boys might have moved from a different town. There were also acceptable substitutions. The uniform called for black short pants, but some boys, for example, wore lederhosen.
The uniforms here look accurate, except for the black caps. At least I have not noted black caps in photographs of Hitler Youth boys. An HBC contributor, however, indicates that the dark-coloured caps are an accurate depiction. The cappaign caps HBC have noted were vrown with red and white piping.
The boys all wear kneckerchiefs as was customary for the Hitler Youth. HBC is not sure what colors the kneckerchiefs were probably red. Most of these boys do not button their collars. HBC believes that actual Hitler Youth boys usually buttoned their collars.
The boys all wear the standard Hitler Youth brown shirts, I do not noe, however, a lot of arm bands.
All of the boys wear black short pants. I do not note any variatiins such as lederhosen.
The boys all wear belts with a single lighting bolt runic character. This should not be confused with the double lightening bolt SS symbol. The belts all have the shoulder strap. In real Hitler Youth photographs often the boys vary as to weather they have the shoulder strap.
I have not seen the film for some time. The boys seem to wear grey kneesocks rather than the dressier white kneesocks.
HBC does not know of a lot of West German films that addressed the NAZI era as starkly and honestly as this film. Information on the public reaction to this film would be interesting. Hopefully our German readers will provide some information on how they react to these NAZI era films.
Many Germans wanted to forget the NAZI era. Soldiers who had committed war crimes clearly wanted to forget. But in fact large numbers of average German civilians in countless ways participated in the Holacaust in a multitude of ways by ostracizing Jewish colleagues, stealing Jewish property or buying stolen Jewish property, moving into apartments and homes taken from Jews, reporting on Jews or other Germans aiding Jews, using anti-semetic language, and many similar actions. It was hard to avoid participating in some ways, however, minor. Admiral Doenitz, a fervent NAZI, for example handed out gold watches taken from the Jews at concentration camps to his U-boat crews.
Figure 3.--Hikes in the country side were a popular activity in the Hitler Youth. On hikes like this it is unlikely that all of the boys would have been so perfectly outfitted.
A HBC contributor comments, "Because of the general revulsion towards the Nazi period among the postwar generation in
Germany, I always wonder how the modern German boys who took part in the film felt to be
dressing up in full Hitler Youth paraphernalia, marching along and singing Nazi songs." This is an interesting question. Laws about NAZI paraphanelia are very strict in Germany. While costuimes in movies are permitted, Germans can not wear NAZI uniforms.
HBC has also wondered about the attitudes of young Germans to World War II books and movies. When Germans watch movies about the War, who do they root for. In essence West Germay was "liberated" by the Allies as were the occupied countries. Modern Germany is now fully incorporated in Western Europe with its democratioc ethos. Even so nationalism isd a very powerful emotion. Certainly with young Germans see movies about the eastern front they much root for the Whermacht. And in the American-British bombing offensive they must root for the Luftwaffe as thousands of civillians were being killed. But what about movies on the western front. How do young Germans view films about the occupation of western Europe in 1940 and the Battle of Britain. Or how do they view films about the 1944-45 battles followng D-Day: the liberation of Paris, the British offensive in the Netherlands, the Battle of the Buldge, the Remagen Bridge, ect. How do young Germans view these films?
The subject of NAZI Germany's Hitler Youth has fascinated fim makers since the very first years of the Third Reich. Several films have been made specifically on the Hitler Youth, but it is a rare film about NAZI Germany that does not include a required scene with Hitler Youth boys. The most notable such scene is from the Broadway musical Cabaret. Information on several other Hitler Youth films, several made in Germany, are avialable on HBC. The first such film was made in Germany, Hitler Jugend Quex. While it looks rather hokey to us today, it had a powerful impact in mid-190s Germany. The prevelence of the Hitler Youth in movies is extrodinary. The much larger Boy Scout movement is rarely depicted in films. The Hitler Youth, however, is rarely left out in a film with a German setting from the late 1920s to 1945.
There is considerable back ground information on HBC, both about German schools and the Hitler Youth.
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. Jewish children in the schools became a target for abuse. As a Mischling, Hannes would not have been able to continue his education after finishing primary school.
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.
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