The guiding light behind the Hitler Youth in the NAZI Government which seized power in 1933 continued to be Baldur Von Schirach, who was eventually tried at Nuremberg. Schirach was the leading NAZI in destroying independent youth organizations and in building the NAZI youth movement. Schirach, on behalf of the NAZI Government proceeded to destroy all independent youth
organizations or caused them to be absorbed within the Hitler Youth (Hitler Jugend). After the NAZIs seized political control of Germany, Schirach was aggressive in bringing the entire German youth within the NAZI orbit of control and domination. Schirach was unable to seize control of every German youth organizatioin and its assetts. The Catholic Centre Party before disbanded under NAZI pressure (July 5, 1933) obtained guarantees over catholic education and youth groups. There were also some natioinaslist groups that remained independent, but only for a while. Schirach indoctrinated youth with the Nazi ideology. Schirach states that: "It was my task to educate the youth in the aims, ideology and directives of the NSDAP, and beyond this to direct and to shape them." For this purpose the Hitler Youth had an elaborate propaganda apparatus which published numerous periodicals, ranging from a daily press service to monthly magazines. Through
liaison agents the Hitler Youth Propaganda Office had permanent contact with Dr. Goebbels' Propaganda Office of the NSDAP and with the Ministry of People's Enlightenment and Propaganda.
The guiding light behind the Hitler Youth in the NAZI Government which seized power in 1933 continued to be Baldur Von Schirach, who was eventually tried at Nuremberg. Schirach was the leading NAZI in destroying independent youth organizations and in building the NAZI youth movement. It was Schirach's task to perpetuate the Nazi regime through generations by inculcating NAZI principles in the minds of German youth. At Nuremberg it was suggested that the Hitler Youth and other NAZI youth programs helped to poison the mind of the German people a major step in preparing the German nation for aggressive wars. Schirach began the process with a series of lawless direction actions.
Schirach, on behalf of the NAZI Government proceeded to destroy all independent youth organizations or caused them to be absorbed within the Hitler Youth (Hitler Jugend). THis was done without any legal authority, but the police did not intervene. . After the NAZIs seized political control of Germany, Schirach was aggressive in bringing the entire German youth within the NAZI orbit of control and domination. Attacks on other groups increased. HJ boys attacked other groups in their camps, in the country side on excursions, or even in town centers. These attcks had occured before the NAZI seizure of power, but now increased in intensity abd the police were less likely to intervene. We do not know have specific details that Schirach orcestrated this, but it seems likely. The the major blow fell. A Hitler Youth commando (organized group of older boys)broke into the offices of the German Youth Movement in Berlin (April 5). Schirach explains what happened, "Now the problem was to apply the victory of the movement to the entire youth. Our cabinet ministers were overburdened with their new tasks and were working day and night. We could not wait until they could find time to solve the youth question by their own initiative. Therefore, we had to act ourselves. My co-workers met in my Munich apartment and advised me to occupy the Reichs Committee [Reichsausschuss] of the German Youth Leagues [Jugendverbaende]. I commissioned General [0bergebietsfuehrer] Nabersberg with 50 members of the Berlin HJ to make a surprise raid on the Reich Committee in the Alsenstrasse early the next morning. This was done and
at noon the press had the report that the HJ [Hitler Youth] had taken over the leadership of the Reich Committee." At this time he took the first major step toward creating one single youth movenent. He explains, "The Marxist youth as well as all political youth organizations I prohibited after the occupation of the Reich Committee. The one million members of the HJ which we had on 30 January 1933 had grown to a round 3,000,000. Only the two large professional groups, the Protestant and Catholic youth, were opposed to us."
Schirach was unable to seize control of every German youth organizatioin and its assetts.
The Catholic Centre Party before disbanded under NAZI pressure (July 5, 1933) obtained guarantees over catholic education and youth groups. There were also some natioinaslist groups that remained independent, but only for a while. This is a rather complicated topic which we do not fully understand at this time. The basic hold outs were the Catholics. The Catholics were more skeptical of the NAZIs than the Protestants. This reflected the Catholic attitudes toward government both in Imperial Germany and the Weimar Republic. The Catholic Center Party had been a major political party. Hitler while his hold on power was still tenous in the early years was willing to moive carefully against the Catholics. And this was reflected in the exception made for Catholic youth groups. Many nationalist groups eagerly joined the HJ after the NAZI seizure of power. A few apparantly remained independent for ashort period. There were many different groups of varying size so the details here are quite complicated.
Schirach for several years was unable to achieve the incorporation of the Catholic youth into the Hitler Youth, though he argued that: "No reasonable man in Germany can give a reason for the necessity of the existence of Catholic youth organizations in their present form." Schirach's objective of forcing all German youth into the Hitler Youth was finally accomplished by a decree in December 1936.
The Hitler Youth was one of the world's largest youth groups, uniformed or non-uniformed. The Soviet Young Pioneer movement may have been larger, but the training and activities program was much less intensive than the Hitler Youth. As Schirach states above, there were 1 million Hitler Youth members even before the NAZIs seized power and incorporating other youth groups into the Hitler Youth brought membership to 3 million after the NAZIs seized power in 1933. The Hitler Youth eventually enrolled nearly 97 percent of eligible German boys. The training these boys received, the skills and physical and psychological conditioning played an important role in Germany's war preparations.
The HJ until 196 was a voluntary organization. German children and their parents were put under increasing pressure to join, but it was not legally compulsory. A new law in 1936 changed this. The basic law concerning the Hitler Youth, which under Schirach's tutelage became an instrument of the Nazi State, declared:
The NAZI Government promulgated the First Hitler Youth Law December 1, 1936. The principal provision of the law was to make membership in the Hitlerjugend mandatory for all eligible German youths. The Law announced, "The future of the German people depends on its youth. Therefore, all of the German youth must be prepared for its future duties." The law was notable for its brevity, but stated, "All German youths within the borders of the German Reich will be incorporated into the Hitler Youth." This essentially made membership compulsory, but did not explicityl say so. Nor did the Law establish any penalties for non-complince. Based on the law, the HJ proceeded on the basis that all children, both boys and girls, should enter the HJ at age 10. Most families had already and membership did not increase substantially in 1937, although membership did increase about 2.5 million in 1938 and 39.
Schirach was mainly responsible for the indoctrination and training of German youth outside home and school. The law making compulsory the organization of all German Youth within the Hitler Youth declared that: "The task of educating the German
Youth through the Hitler Youth is being entrusted to the Reich Youth Leader in the NSDAP."
To make Schirach's sole competence even clearer, the first executive order concerning the basic youth law stated:
"The youth leader of the German Reich is solely competent for all missions of the physical, ideological, and moral education of the entire German youth outside of the house of the parents and the school."
Schirach was the principal NAZI to apply the Leadership principle to German youth. As a Reich Leader (Reichsleiter) in the NSDAP, Schirach was responsible only to Hitler or his deputy (Stellvertreter), Hess. In youth affairs he was at the top of the Nazi leadership pyramid, and under him German youth was directed by and completely subjected to the Leadership Principle. The Leadership Principle, one of the principal control-techniques of the Nazis was explained and glorified by Schirach as it applied to German youth:
"A single will leads the HJ. The power of authority of the HJ leaders, that of the smallest as well as of the largest unit, is absolute, i.e., he has the unlimited right to give orders because he bears the unlimited responsibility. He knows that the responsibility of the higher one comes before that of the lower ones. Therefore, he submits silently to the instructions of his leaders even if they are directed against him personally. To him as well as to all young Germany the history of the HJ is proof of the fact that a youth community also can only be successful if it unconditionally recognizes the authority of leadership. he success of National Socialism is a success of discipline. The structure of National Socialist Youth is built on the foundation of discipline and obedience. The teachings of the time of persecution apply even more to the period of victory and power.
Schirach indoctrinated youth with the Nazi ideology. Schirach states that: "It was my task to educate the youth in the aims, ideology and directives of the NSDAP, and beyond this to direct and to shape them."
For this purpose the Hitler Youth had an elaborate propaganda apparatus which published numerous periodicals, ranging from a daily press service to monthly magazines. Through
liaison agents the Hitler Youth Propaganda Office had permanent contact with Dr. Goebbels' Propaganda Office of the NSDAP and with the Ministry of People's Enlightenment and Propaganda.
Schirach, together with Dr. Robert Ley, established the Adolf Hitler Schools in January 1937. These schools, according to the joint statement of Reich Leaders (Reichsleiter) Schirach and Ley, were open to outstanding and proven members of the Youth Folk (Jungvolk), the junior section of the Hitler Youth organization. The Adolf Hitler Schools were destined to train youth free of charge for responsible positions in National Socialist Germany. These schools were units of and under the jurisdiction of the Hitler Youth. Schirach shared with Reich Organization Leader (Reichsorganisationsleiter) Ley the general supervision of the contents of the teaching, the curriculum, and the staff of the Adolf Hitler Schools (2653-PS). Schirach encouraged a close relation between members of the Hitler Youth and the German League for Germandom abroad (Verein fuer das Deutschum im Ausland, or "VDA" An agreement between Schirach and the leaders of the VDA in 1933 states:
Schirach's acts in accomplishing the Nazis' complete control over German youth are described above. These acts were of notable assistance to the Nazi conspirators in acquiring
complete control of Germany during the pre-war years. Schirach's own words in 1938 leave no doubt as to his own feeling of personal responsibility in this connection: "the struggle for the unification of the German youth is finished. I consider it as
my duty to conduct it in a hard and uncompromising manner. Many might not have realized why we went through so much trouble for the sake of the youth. And yet: The National Socialist German Workers' Party, whose trustee I felt I always was and always will be, this Party considered the struggle for the youth
as the decisive element for the future of the German nation"
He added: "And I promise the German public that the youth of the German Reich, the youth of Adolf Hitler, will accomplish its duty in the spirit of the man to whom alone their lives belong."
Schirach claims to have been the principal Nazi responsible for driving the entire Nazi ideology into the minds of German youths, many of whom grew up to be fanatical
Nazis like Schirach himself. From Hitler, in 1938, came boastings of the accomplishments of the Hitler Youth in military training. Through the vast propaganda work of the Reich Youth
Leadership, through the Adolf Hitler Schools, through the minute regimentation of youth and its subjection to the Leadership Principle, and through the military training of German youth,
Schirach fulfilled the edict of the basic law concerning the Hitler Youth: "The future of the German nation depends on its youth, and the German youth shall have to be prepared for its future duties"
Schirach thus subscribed to the "racial-political task" of the NSDAP and extended his jurisdiction even beyond the border of the German Reich. His encouragement and approval of anti-Jewish terror played a key role in the Holocaust.
The Nureberg Tribunal found that Schirach bears
responsibility for providing many, if not most, of the Death Head (Totenkopf) members of the SS, who, in the main, administered
the concentration camps. As
particularized above, the SS, by agreement between Himmler and Schirach, took "its
replacement primarily" from Streifendienst members of the Hitler Youth and only upon
special permission could a non Hitler Youth become an SS man. Nor can Schirach escape
responsibility for his assistance in implanting in youth the Nazi ideology, with its tenets of a
master race, "sub-human" peoples, and world domination. For such notions were the
psychological prerequisites for the instigation and toleration of the atrocities which zealous
NAZIs committed throughout Germany and the occupied countries.
The Hitler Youth played a prominent role in NAZI Party rallies and events, especially the annual ralley and Party Congress at Nuemberg. The Nuremberg festivities lasted a week. Some 60,000 young Germans participated in the
mass rallies in some years. There were games,
exhibitions, and speeches, culminating in a
speech given by Hitler and a massive ovation for him afterwards.
Through the Hitler Youth, Schirach assisted the Nazi conspirators in developing
leaders and members of the NSDAP and its affiliated organizations, including the SA
and the SS. Sometime before the launching of aggressive wars, the Hitler Youth had become the principal source of zealous members for the NSDAP and its affiliated
organizations. Orders of the Party Chancellery concerned with "successor problems" of the
Party emphasize constant attention to Hitler Youth members as future Nazi leaders, thus
attempting the perpetuation of the Nazi regime and Nazi ideology for the immediate future
and even into future generations. Only Hitler Youth members who distinguished themselves
were to be admitted to the Party. Nazi leaders were instructed to use "properly qualified full-time Hitler Youth leaders for the continuation of their political work in the Party
service," so that a necessary succession of full-time leaders in the Leader Corps (Fuehrerkorps) of the Party would be secured.
The Party manual also discusses the Hitler Youth as a recruitment agency for future Nazi leaders and members of affiliated organizations of the NSDAP: "To secure for the Party valuable and trained recruits for leadership, suitable Hitler Jugend boys of over 17 can be assigned for education and training to leaders from local unit leaders on upwards." Schirach explained that
"Besides the above mentioned conditions for selections in general, a process of elimination results from the fact that from youth on the German is cared for, guided, and educated by the Party. First they are assembled in the Young Folk [Jungvolk] from which the young people are transferred into the HJ. The boy of the HJ enters the SA, the SS, the NSKK or the NSFK or participates in the work of the affiliated organizations of the Party. After labor and army service, he returns for service to the Party and its affiliates, respectively."
Special arrangements existed between Himmler's SS and Schirach's Hitler Youth concerning the recruiting of members of
the Hitler Jugend for later service in the SS. Within the Hitler Youth was a special group
called the Streifendienst (Patrol Service). Concerning this special group, an official handbook
on youth laws states:
Shortly afterwards, on 17 December 1938, Schirach and Himmler entered into and signed another agreement for recruiting SS members from the ranks of the Hitler Youth:
"To secure full success for the common effort of the SS and the Hitler Youth by strict cooperation, to stem the flight from the land, to build a new peasant class, to bring the best part of the people into contact with the earth of the homeland the following arrangement has been made in connection with the agreement of August 26, 1938:
- "1. The farm service of the Hitler Youth is according to education and aim, particularly well suited as a recruiting organization for the Schutzstaffel (general SS and the armed sections of the SS; SS special troops and SS death head battalions).
- "2. Boys who suit the special demands of the SS according to physical conditions and moral attitude are preferably admitted into the farm service of the Hitler Youth."
- "5. All farm service members who pass the general admission test of the SS will be taken over into the general SS after leaving the farm service."
Thus, by the end of 1938, the Hitler Youth had become the main source for future SS members. (For the criminal activities the SS formations for which Hitler Youth members were recruited.
German boys before going on to university entering the military did a year of labor service in the Reich Labor Service (RAD). This was not part of the Hitler Youth program. It was necessary to gain uivrsity admission. It was a program in some ways similar to the American Civilian Conservation Corps. Both programs were Depression era projects to provide jobs to unemployed youths after school. The American program was voluntary. The German program was not.
Schirach actively engaged in militarizing the Hitler Youth. In June 1933, under an agreement between Hitler and Franz Seldte, which was negotiated in the presence of the
Reich Minister of War, the "Steel Helmet League of Front Line Soldiers" (Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten) was incorporated into the Nazi movement. The Scharnhorst, the youth
organization of the Stahlhelm, was integrated into the Hitler Youth.
A pictorial dictionary for German children learning French has some images. One page shows youth groups. It was published in Leipzig during 1937. Labels show the French words for the uniforms and equipment. A are
scouts, B Hitler Youth (La jeunesse nationale-socialist in the French text). It calls the boy on the left (with the drum) a “pimpf” -- the term for the younger boys belonging to the “Deutsches Jungfolk” (boys age 10 to 14). It also shows a girl a member of the “Bund Deutsher Madel” and
a member of the Hitler Youth (jeunesse Hitlerienne in French). Group C and D are “Wandervogel”. I assume this is presented as a historical image as all German youth groups were incorporated into the Hitler Youth in 1933. E and F show youth at a Youth Hostel. I believe the Youth Hostel Movement started in Germany as part of the “Outdoor” movement in the 1920's, but have little information on the movement. German Hostels were incorporated into the Hitler Youth movement in 1933.
Laqueur, Walter. Young Germany: A History of the German Youth Movement.
von Schirach, Baldur. Ich glaubte an Hitler ("I believed in Hitler").
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