Hitler Youth members seized the German Youth Ministry with a few weeks of Hitler's appointment as Chancellor (1933). Membership for a few years was more or less voluntary. This changes with the promulgation of three laws (1936, 39, and 41) which among other matters made membrship compulsory for all German children beginning at age 10 years. The First Hitler Youth 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 subsequent two Hitler Youth Laws were designed primarily to prevent families from evading the requirement to enroll their children in the HJ.
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 was very simple. It proclimed, "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.
The NAZIs promulgated the Seconf Hitler Youth Law March 25, 1939, a few months before World War II. The law is notable for the much greater detail defining membership in the HJ. The Law begins by declaring that "Service in the Hitler Youth is honorary service to the German people." The Law explicity states that German children must join the Hitler Youth at age 10 and serve through age 18 yerars. Penalties are privided for guardians who do not comply, including confinement. The Law also gives officials the authority to require participation. Quite a range of possble exemptions to participation are described in detail. These generally refer to poor health and inproper conduct. Children of Germans residing abroad can not be compelled to serve if in Germany for brief visits. Girls are allow to withdraw upon marriage. Children having difficulty with their school work can be exempted. Jews are specifically excluded, but no other racial exclusions are indicated. There are refrences to Danes and Poles residing in Germany, this would include some who are Germany citizens. Substantial numbers of both Danes and Poles lived in Germany. The apparanent leinancy toward Poles is interesting given the draconian actions taken against many Poles in the occupied area after the War was launched. This Law was promulgated before the War and thus does not refer to the occupation of those countries. It explicitly states that such children can not be compelled to join, but does not prevent them from doing so. The induction creemony is to be conducted once a year all over Gemany--April 20 (the Führer's birthday). The nature of the prvisions suggest that some guardians and some youths were trying to evade service. We have no idea how widespread this was, but clearly it was sufficently widespread to irritate NAZI officials. We have no data on the extent of evasions or the number of procecutions under the provisions of the Law, nor do we know if such data exists.
The NAZIs promulgated the Third Hitler Youth Law during World War II in 1941. We do not have details, but it was apperently designed to limit exemptions granted and to make the compliance for evasion more severe.
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