11 July 2012
Hitler is probably one of the most hated people in history. No one can think about what he did without getting sick to their stomach. He was on the other hand a psychotic genius. He was able to take an entire generation and successfully brainwash them into his ideology. I am of course talking about Hitler’s Youth also known as Hitler’s Jugend or HJ for short. “The Hitler Jugend, the NAZI party’s youth movement, indoctrinated German youth to perpetuate the ‘1000 year Reich.’ The Hitler Jugend movement emphasized activism, physical training, NAZI ideology, especially nationalism and racial concepts and absolute obedience to Hitler and the NAZI party.” (Weidner, 1998)
I have chosen to use a website called Historical Boy’s Uniforms authored by Dennis M. Weidner. He has taken much time and effort to put together a website that includes many historical boys’ uniforms; the one in particular that I am talking about is of course HJ’s. Even though his website is dedicated to uniforms I am not going to be discussing the uniforms of the Hitler Jugend, rather I have chosen to discuss the Hitler Jugend as a whole. I will begin with a short biography of Mr. Dennis M. Weidner.
Mr. Dennis M. Weidner served in the Peace Corps from 1966-67, the US Army during the Korean War 1969-71. He has a BA in History and Political Science from Davis and Elkins College; he also has a MA in International Relations from University of South Carolina. He was a teacher in South Carolina and a member of the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission. Finally Mr. Weidner worked for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (1975-2001): Researching issues associated with Latin American fisheries and diplomatic relations associated with Latin American fisheries, publishing numerous works on these subjects. Now that we know a little about Mr. Weidner let’s begin our discussion of the Hitler Jugend.
Hitler’s Jugend was directed at youths aged between 14 and 18 and was founded in 1922. When this was initially founded it was called Youth League of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, but in 1926 it was renamed the Hitler Youth. (Evans, 2004, pp. 213-214) Although the program at first did not have much success just like the NAZI party it would soon evolve into a major part of Germany. In the beginning there were around 1000 members and by 1940 over 8 million members. (Weidner, 1998)
Now comes the rise of the NAZI party in 1933. Adolf Hitler was named Chancellor in January of 1933 and shortly thereafter seized control of Germany. Shortly after Hitler was appointed Chancellor, Baldur von Schirach organized a NAZI takeover of the German Youth Ministry. (Weidner, 1998) Many groups or clubs were either disbanded or absolved into Hitler Jugend; two such groups were the Boy Scouts and the Young German Orders. (Evans, 2004, p. 388) He idolized Hitler and was an almost immediate convert to Nazism. He would turn the German Youth programs into what we now know as Hitler Jugend. (Evans, 2004, p. 214)
Hitler had always known that a strong youth program was necessary for the NAZI program and Hitler relied heavily on Schirach to indoctrinate the youth in preparation for war. (Weidner, 1998) Hitler derived considerable pleasure from being with his Hitler Youth, and his attitude toward them frequently tended to be more that of a woman than of a man. (Langer, 1972) This tendency has also brought into question in the eyes of many historians Hitler’s sexual preferences’. It has long been suspected that Hitler was in fact a homosexual, and that he had intimate relations with at least two members of the Hitler Youth.
It is fascinating to me to think that Adolf Hitler had the mindset to understand that getting the German youth to be part of this organization was going to empower the NAZI party. If you look all through history you can find many people that said the youth of our nation is important to the future of our nation. Few have in fact ever put action of this philosophy into action. Hitler on the other had put his beliefs into action and was incredibly successful.
By 1935 membership had risen to 60 percent of the German youth. At first membership was not mandatory and you could get away with not being a member, by 1939 laws started being passed that would eventually require youth participation. (Weidner, 1998) Membership was not only for boys, girls were members too, although there were separate groups for the boys and girls. It was a honor to become a member. If you were not part of it you were an outcast.
Hitler realized that he would not be able to convert the whole of Germany to Nazism and so he was fixed on making the youth of his country his supporters. If he could get the youth to desire to be part of the NAZI party he could win. “It was his special desire that every mother can give her son to the SA, to the party, or to the Hitler Jugend, without fear that he might be morally injured there.” (Toland, Adolf Hitler, 1976, p. 361) Hitler was exceptionally great at bending his countrymen to his will. When Hitler spoke people listened, sometimes out of fear and sometimes out of love and loyalty.
German youth came to the Hitler Youth as more of a clean slate which were much more vulnerable to ideological manipulation. The Hitler Youth was a program that the NAZI’s could completely control. Not only did the Hitler Youth provide the vehicle which the future generation of Germans could be shaped, but the youth could be used in many other ways by Hitler and the NAZIs. (Weidner, 1998)
The Hitler Youth mission was to bring together young people from all walks of life and break any ties to communism and indoctrinate them into Nazism. After this was done the mission was to build them physically, educate them politically and train them to work for the Fuhrer and nation. (Toland, Adolf Hitler, 1976, p. 435) An important aspect of Hitler Jugend system was that “youth must be led by youth”. (Weidner, 1998)
There were two sections to the boys units of the Hitler Jugend, the first was Deutsche Jugend for the younger (10 to 14) boys and the Hitler Jugend proper for the older boys (15 to 18). (Weidner, 1998) Each member of Hitler Jugend was given a members book which was entitled Mitgliebs. The first page of the book had the diamond shaped logo of the Hitler Youth and the membership number of the boy. This book also had basic information about the person who owned it.
When a member graduated into the Hitler Jugend he was given a dagger and upon it these words were written “Blood and Honor.” (Giblin, 2002) With the dagger he would be able to defend the Fuhrer and the nation if called to do so. Hitler Jugend members were encouraged to report to authorities any activities that deviated from Party policies. This gave these young Hitler Jugend members the idea that they were superior to the common civilian and often times caused problems. Hitler Jugend members would beat, and harass civilians that were not supporters or that they thought did not show enough support.
Hitler Jugend members played huge roles in Kinderlandverschickung (KLV) which operated from 1939 to 1945. Kinderlandverschickung literally means Nazi evacuation scheme for children. Schools and the Hitler Jugend were involved in organizing the KLV. School children had to go to rural areas on "holiday" but really they were sent out of the cities and towns that had difficulties feeding them and were being bombed by the Allies. Hitler Jugend members would accompany teachers and would watch the children. It was like a summer camp for the children and the counselors were Hitler Jugend members.
The Hitler Youth organization played an important role in the German World War II war effort. Many Hitler Youth boys did more than just home front war work, but actually saw military service. The Hitler Youth was important in the German military effort. This was accomplished by Hitler Jugend members being part of anti-aircraft batteries, being part of the Volksstrum also known as the Home Guard or People’s Militia and many other ways.
Hitler Jugend also participated in the Battle for Berlin which started on 20 April 1945 and lasted till morning of 02 May 1945. The German defenses were mainly led by Helmuth Weidling and consisted of several depleted, badly equipped, and disorganized Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS divisions, the latter which ironically included many SS foreign volunteers, as well as many Volkssturm and Hitler Youth members. (Nasuti, 2006) Hitler himself would thank the Hitler Jugend for their gallantry in the battle for the capital. (Toland, Adolf Hitler, 1976, p. 976) He personally gave awards to Hitler Jugend members for their gallantry in this battle. This would be one of the last times that anyone outside of his inner circle would ever see Hitler alive.
“The NAZIs surrendered May 8, 1945. This meant that a youth organization of over 7 million children ceased to exist. The reaction of the children varied. Some children, mostly boys resisted the occupation. This reaction, however, seems limited for an organization that had so effectively steeled millions of boys for war.” (Weidner, 1998)
The Hitler Jugend was in all aspects brainwashing to an extreme the world had never seen before and probably never will again. They loved the Fuhrer and the German Nation. They gave everything that they had in order to support and defend NAZI Germany. Hitler used his power of manipulation to take an entire generation and achieve ultimately what he wanted to achieve. He set out to ensure that the young people of Germany loved him, their nation, and Nazism and he was very successful.
Evans, R. J. (2004). The Coming of the Third Reich. New York: The Penguin Press.
Giblin, J. C. (2002). The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler. New York : Clarion Books.
Langer, W. C. (1972). The Mind of Adolf Hitler: The Secret Wartime Report. New York: Basic Books, Inc.
Nasuti, G. (2006, 12 03). The Hitler Youth: An Effective Organization for Total War. Retrieved 07 21, 2012, from Military History Online: http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/wwii/articles/effectiveorganization.aspx
Toland, J. (1976). Adolf Hitler (Vol. I). Garden City: Doubleday Company, Inc.
Toland, J. (1976). Adolf Hitler (Vol. II). Garden City: Doubleday Company, Inc.
Weidner, D. M. (1998, November 15). Hitler's Youth. Retrieved July 14, 2012, from Historical Boys' Uniforms: http://histclo.com/youth/youth/org/nat/hitler/hitler.htm
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