Hitler Youth Activities: Military Training in Specialized Divisions


Figure 1.--These HJ boys look to be visiting a German naval vessel. The are wearing the regular HJ uniform, not the Marine-HJ uniform. They look to be practicing signaling. Perhaps the Navy was trying to interest them in the Marine-HJ program.

The Deutche Jugend was organized as a non-specialized group rather like the Cub Scouts. Although in some countries the Cubs are tied to specialized programs like Sea Scouts. This is not, however, the general pattern. DJ activities like model building were designed to interest boys in specific services so that would choose the approprriate HJ division. Once boys progressed to the Hitler Jugend there were specialized programs or divisions. Upon entering the Hitler Jugend, the Deutsche Jugend (DJ) boys were given a choice of entering a specialized branch within the organization. Two of the most popular were the marine and air divisions, although there were several others. Only the marine division, however, had a destinctive uniform. These divisions engaged in much of the basic HJ program, but supplemented with activities related to the specailty chosen. These divisions would then channel the boys into the related service branch. According to an official document published by the Reich Youth Leadership under Hitler Youth leader Schirach, the object of these divisions was to prepare boys for such organizations as the German merchant marine and Navy, the National Socialist Motorized Corps (NSKK), for civil and military aviation, and for service with signal troops.

Flieger-HJ

One of the most popular and largest HJ divisions was the Flieger-HJ (Hitler Youth Flyers). Boys interested in airplanes and flying signed up for the Flieger-HJ. The Flieger-HJ wore destinctive Luftwaffe-blue uniforms. The Flieger-HJ was designed to teach boys the basic principles of flying. Building model gliders was a popular activity for younger boys for the first 2 years of the program. This helped to stimulate interest as well as to present basic principles of aeronautics. They were also instructed in the theory of flight. The younger boys would help man the catapults that launched older boys in actual glider training. After the younger boys completing the model phase of the program they proceeded to prepare to fly actual gliders. The boys worked on A, B, and the advanced C level of glider certifications. The boys that were successful with gliders would progress into the Luftwaffe. The Luftwaffe supported close relationships between its personnel and those of the Flieger-HJ. This is understandable because the Luftwaffe wanted to train them as pilots and other specialties. Sometimes the Luftwaffe would actually take up Flieger-HJ boys in actual aircraft, both flifgters and bombers. Boys who showed promise were made a future Fahnrich, or officer cadet in the Luftwaffe. This guaranteed that when they reached the age for military service that would join the Luftwaffe.

Marine HJ

One of the specialized HJ divisions thar DJ boys could chose when they graduated to the HJ was the Marine-HJ (Naval Hitler Youth). The Marine-HJ engaged in a variety of seafaring activities like sailing and rowing. The boys trained with the navy, but we have only limited informaion on the program at this time. Boys were brought aboard Kriegsmarina vessels just as Flieger-HJ boys were brought aboard Luftwaffe ircraft. The highlight of the Marine HJ progrm was the naval training cruise on the Navy's training ship Horst Wessel--named after a HJ martyr. The boys could then progress into the Kriegsmarina or the Merchant Marine. While Germany only had a smakk navy when World War II broke out, the HJ Marine Division provided a pool of man power when Hitler approved the expansion of the U-boat force. It proved to be one of the military forces with the greatest proportion of mortality during the War.

Motor HJ

If motors and automobiles were of interest, there was the Motor-HJ (Motorized Hitler Youth). Here boys had to wait until they were 16 years old, the age for obtaining a driver's license. Once he was 16, a boy could could petition to enter the Motor-HJ. Members had to keep a log of their driving hours, rather like a pilot. The boys ha to drive at least 80 hours annual to maintain their membership in good standing. The program was not just driving of course, but included mechanics. The boys needed 105 hours of mechanic experience. Like the other specialized divisions, the purpose was to provide the military recruits experienced with motor vehivcles. A Reichsjugendfuhrung memorandum stated, "It is self-evident that members of the Motor-HJ will later serve in the motorized units of the Wehrmact." Many memberswere assigned to SS units since all SS units were fully motorized.

Other Programs

There were several small HJ specialized programs. Boys were trained as medics. There was also a cavalry unit in which rural boys also participated.

Flakhelfer

The HJ also had a major Flakhelfer program of anti-aircraft helpers. This became a major program during World War II as the Allied bombing program began in 1942. I'm not sure if this was a program before the War. The older boys HJ boys actually manned the guns. The younger boys manned the searchlights and served as messengers. This meant that actual soldiers did not have o diverted from front-line service. This was a significant contribution to he War because by 1943 the Allies were intensifying th bombing and the Germans had developed a very extensive and highly effective anti-aircraft defense system.

Waffen SS

The Waffen-SS (weapons and protection squad) was the branch for the more military-oriented youth.

Others

Signal (Signal Hitler Youth), medical, and musical units were also options for the Hitler Youth boys.







HBU




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Created: December 11, 2000
Last updated: 2:14 AM 3/10/2008