The HITLER YOUTH (German: Hitlerjugend (help ·info ), often
abbreviated as HJ in German) was the youth organisation of the Nazi
Party in Germany. Its origins dated back to 1922. From 1933 until
1945, it was the sole official youth organisation in
Germany and was
partially a paramilitary organisation; it was composed of the Hitler
Youth proper for male youths aged 14 to 18, the German Youngsters in
Hitler Youth (
Deutsches Jungvolk in der Hitler Jugend or "DJ",
also "DJV") for younger boys aged 10 to 14, and the League of German
Girls (Bund Deutsche Mädel or "BDM").
With the surrender of
Nazi Germany in 1945, the organisation de facto
ceased to exist. On 10 October 1945, it was outlawed by the Allied
Control Council along with other
Nazi Party organisations. Under
Section 86 of the Criminal Code of the Federal Republic of
Hitler Youth is an "unconstitutional organisation" and the
distribution or public use of its symbols, except for educational or
research purposes, is not permitted.
* 1 Origins
* 2 Doctrine
* 3 Uniform and emblems
* 4 Organisation
* 5 Membership
World War II
World War II
* 7 Post
World War II
World War II
* 8 See also
* 9 References
* 9.1 Informational notes
* 9.2 Citations
* 9.3 Bibliography
* 10 External links
Hitler Youth members performing the
Nazi salute at a rally at
Berlin , 1933
In 1922, the Munich-based
Nazi Party established its official youth
Jugendbund der NSDAP. It was announced on 8 March
1922 in the
Völkischer Beobachter , and its inaugural meeting took
place on 13 May the same year. Another youth group was established in
1922 as the Jungsturm
Adolf Hitler (help ·info ). Based in
Bavaria , it served to train and recruit future members of the
Sturmabteilung (SA), the main paramilitary wing of the
Nazi Party at
that time. One reason the
Hitler Youth so easily came into existence
stems from the fact that numerous youth movements existed across
Germany prior to and especially after
World War I
World War I . These youth
organisations were created for varying purposes; some were religious
in disposition and others were ideological, but the more important
among them were those formed for political reasons, like the "Young
Conservatives" or the "Young Protestants". Once Hitler came onto the
revolutionary scene, the transition from seemingly innocuous youth
movements to political entities focused on Hitler was swift.
Following the abortive
Beer Hall Putsch (in November 1923), the Nazi
youth groups ostensibly disbanded, but many elements simply went
underground, operating clandestinely in small units under assumed
names. In April 1924, the
Jugendbund der NSDAP was renamed
Grossdeutsche Jugendbewegung (Greater German Youth Movement). On 4
July 1926, the Grossdeutsche Jugendbewegung was officially renamed
Hitler Jugend Bund der deutschen Arbeiterjugend (
Hitler Youth League
of German Worker Youth). This event took place a year after the Nazi
Party itself had been reorganised. The architect of the
Kurt Gruber , a law student from
Plauen in Saxony.
After a short power-struggle with a rival organisation—Gerhard
Roßbach 's Schilljugend—Gruber prevailed and his "Greater German
Youth Movement" became the Nazi Party's official youth organisation.
In July 1926, it was renamed Hitler-Jugend, Bund deutscher
Arbeiterjugend ("Hitler Youth, League of German Worker Youth") and,
for the first time, officially became an integral part of the
Sturmabteilung . The name Hitler-Jugend was taken up on the suggestion
Hans Severus Ziegler . By 1930, the Hitlerjugend (HJ) had enlisted
over 25,000 boys aged 14 and upwards. They also set up a junior
Deutsches Jungvolk (DJ), for boys aged 10 to 14. Girls
from 10 to 18 were given their own parallel organisation, the League
of German Girls (BDM).
In April 1932, Chancellor
Heinrich Brüning banned the Hitler Youth
movement in an attempt to stop widespread political violence. But in
June, Brüning's successor as Chancellor,
Franz von Papen , lifted the
ban as a way of appeasing Hitler, the rapidly ascending political
star. A further significant expansion drive started in 1933, after
Baldur von Schirach was appointed by Hitler as the first
Reichsjugendführer (Reich Youth Leader). All youth organizations
were brought under Schirach's control.
Members of the
Hitler Youth chosen by the NSDAP Office of Racial
The members of the
Hitler Youth were viewed as ensuring the future of
Nazi Germany and were indoctrinated in Nazi ideology, including
Hitler Youth appropriated many of its activities of the
Boy Scout movement (which was banned in 1935), including camping and
hiking. However, over time it changed in content and intention. For
example, many activities closely resembled military training, with
weapons training, assault course circuits and basic tactics. The aim
was to instill the motivation that would enable its members to fight
Nazi Germany as soldiers. There was great emphasis on
physical fitness and hardness and military training than on academic
study. Sacrifice for the cause was inculcated into their training.
Former Hitler Youth, Franz Jagemann claimed for instance that the
Germany must live" even if they (members of the HJ) had to die
was "hammered" into them.
Hitler Youth were used to break up Church youth groups, and in
anti-Church indoctrination, used to spy on religious classes and Bible
studies, and interfere with church attendance. Education and
training programs for the
Hitler Youth were designed to undermine the
values of the traditional elitist structures of German society along
with their privileges; their training also aimed at an obliteration of
social and intellectual distinctions between the classes, so as to be
replaced and dominated by the political goals of Hitler's totalitarian
dictatorship. Besides promoting a doctrine of classlessness,
additional training was provided that linked state-identified enemies
such as Jews with Germany's previous defeat in the First World War ,
and societal decline. As historian Richard Evans observes, "The songs
they sang were Nazi songs. The books they read were Nazi books."
UNIFORM AND EMBLEMS
HJ uniform from the 1930s
Members summer uniform consisted of a black shorts and tan shirt with
pockets, worn with a rolled black neckerchief secured with a woggle ,
usually tucked under the collar. Headgear originally consisted of a
beret , but this was discarded by the HJ in 1934. One flag/symbol
used by the HJ was the same as the DJ, a white Sieg rune on a black
background, which symbolised "victory". Another flag used was a
red-white-red striped flag with a black swastika in the middle, inside
a white shaped diamond.
Hitlerjugend camp in China in 1935, with permission of the
Government of the
Republic of China
Republic of China
Hitler Youth was organised into corps under adult leaders, and
the general membership of the HJ consisted of boys aged fourteen to
Hitler Youth was organised into local cells on a
community level. Such cells had weekly meetings at which various Nazi
doctrines were taught by adult leaders. Regional leaders typically
organised rallies and field exercises in which several dozen Hitler
Youth cells would participate. The largest gathering usually took
place annually, at
Nuremberg , where members from all over Germany
would converge for the annual
Nazi Party rally. Since the HJ and BDM
were considered fully "Aryan" organizations by Nazi officials,
premarital sex was actually encouraged in their ranks.
Hitler Youth maintained training academies comparable to
preparatory schools, which were designed to nurture future Nazi Party
Hitler Youth also maintained several corps designed to
develop future officers for the
Wehrmacht (Armed Forces). The corps
offered specialised foundational training for each of the specific
arms for which the member was ultimately destined. The Marine Hitler
Youth (Marine-HJ), for example, served as an auxiliary to the
Kriegsmarine . Another branch of the
Hitler Youth was the Deutsche
Arbeiter Jugend – HJ (German Worker Youth – HY). This organisation
Hitler Youth was a training ground for future labor leaders
and technicians. Its symbol was a rising sun with a swastika.
Hitler Youth regularly issued the Wille und Macht (Will and
Power) monthly magazine. This publication was also its official organ
and its editor was Baldur von Schirach. Other publications included
Die Kameradschaft (Comradeship), which had a girl's version for the
BDM called Mädelschaft, and a yearbook called Jungen eure Welt (Youth
Another program entitled Landjahr Lager (Country Service Camp) was
designed to teach specifically chosen girls of the BDM high moral
character standards within a rural educational setting.
"Leistungsbuch" (Performance booklet) of a
Hitler Youth /
Deutsches Jungvolk member. The symbol in the upper right, based on the
Sowilo rune , reads "For accomplishments in the DJ (Deutsches
Jungvolk)". The symbol in the lower left, based on the
Tiwaz rune ,
reads "For accomplishments in the HJ (Hitler Jugend)". Hitler
Youth at rifle practice, c. 1943
In 1923, the youth organisation of the
Nazi Party had a little over
1,200 members. In 1925, when the
Nazi Party had been refounded, the
membership grew to over 5,000. Five years later, national membership
stood at 26,000. By the end of 1932, it was at 107,956. The Nazis
came to power in 1933, and the membership of Hitler Youth
organisations increased dramatically to 2,300,000 members by the end
of that year. Much of these increases came from forcible takeovers of
other youth organisations. The sizeable Evangelische Jugend
(Evangelical Youth), a Lutheran youth organisation of 600,000 members,
was integrated on 18 February 1934. In 1934, a law declared the
Hitler Youth to be the only legally permitted youth organisation in
Germany, and stated that "all of the German youth in the Reich is
organised within the Hitler Youth".
By December 1936,
Hitler Youth membership had reached over
five-million. That same month, membership became mandatory for Aryans
, under the Gesetz über die Hitlerjugend (
Hitler Youth Law). This
legal obligation was reaffirmed in March 1939 with the
Jugenddienstpflicht (Youth Service Duty), which conscripted all German
youths into the Hitler Youth—even if the parents objected. Parents
who refused to allow their children to join were subject to an
investigation by the authorities. From then on, the vast majority of
Germany's teenagers belonged to the Hitler Youth. By 1940, it had
eight million members.
Students who did not join were frequently assigned essays with titles
such as "Why am I not in the Hitler Youth?" They were also the
subject of frequent taunts from teachers and fellow students, and
could even be refused their diploma —which made it impossible to be
admitted to university. A number of employers refused to offer
apprenticeships to anyone who was not a member of the Hitler Youth. By
Hitler Youth had a monopoly on all youth sports facilities
in Germany, effectively locking out non-members. As time went on, a
number of boys chafed under the regimented nature of the organisation;
some even dropped out and only rejoined when they learned they could
not get a job or enter university without being a member.
Hitler Youth constituted the single most successful
of all the mass movements in the Third Reich.
There were a few members of the
Hitler Youth who privately disagreed
with Nazi ideologies. For instance,
Hans Scholl —the brother of
Sophie Scholl and one of the leading figures of the anti-Nazi
resistance movement Weiße Rose (
White Rose )—was also a member of
the Hitler Youth.
WORLD WAR II
16-year-old Willi Hübner being awarded the
Iron Cross in March
1945. Members of a Hitlerjugend company of the
the German-Soviet front in
Pomerania , February 1945
On 1 May 1940,
Artur Axmann was appointed deputy to Schirach, whom he
Reichsjugendführer of the
Hitler Youth on 8 August 1940.
Axmann began to reform the group into an auxiliary force which could
perform war duties. The
Hitler Youth became active in German fire
brigades and assisted with recovery efforts to German cities affected
from Allied bombing . The
Hitler Youth also assisted in such
organisations as the Reich postal service, the Reich railroad services
, and other government offices; members of the HJ also aided the army
and served with anti-aircraft defense crews.
By 1943, Nazi leaders began turning the
Hitler Youth into a military
reserve to replace manpower which had been depleted due to tremendous
military losses. The idea for a
Waffen-SS division made up of Hitler
Youth members was first proposed by Axmann to Reichsführer-SS
Heinrich Himmler in early 1943. The plan for a combat division made
Hitler Youth members born in 1926 was passed on to Hitler for
his approval. Hitler approved the plan in February and Gottlob Berger
was tasked with recruiting.
Fritz Witt of SS Division Leibstandarte
(LSSAH) was appointed divisional commander.
In 1944, the 12th SS-Panzer-Division Hitlerjugend was deployed during
the Battle of Normandy against the British and Canadian forces to the
Caen . Nearly 20,000 German youths participated in the
attempt to repulse the D-Day invasion; while they knocked out some 28
Canadian tanks during their first effort, they ultimately lost 3,000
lives before the Normandy assault was complete. During the following
months, the division earned itself a reputation for ferocity and
fanaticism. When Witt was killed by allied naval gunfire,
SS-Brigadeführer Kurt Meyer took over command and became the
divisional commander at age 33.
As German casualties escalated with the combination of Operation
Bagration and the
Lvov-Sandomierz Operation in the east, and Operation
Cobra in the west, members of the Hitlerjugend were recruited at ever
younger ages . By 1945, the
Volkssturm was commonly drafting
Hitler Youth members into its ranks. During the Battle of
Berlin , Axmann's
Hitler Youth formed a major part of the last line of
German defense, and were reportedly among the fiercest fighters.
Although the city commander, General
Helmuth Weidling , ordered Axmann
to disband the
Hitler Youth combat formations, in the confusion this
order was never carried out. The remnants of the youth brigade took
heavy casualties from the advancing Russian forces; only two survived.
POST WORLD WAR II
Hitler Youth was disbanded by Allied authorities as part of the
denazification process. Some
Hitler Youth members were suspected of
war crimes but, because they were children, no serious efforts were
made to prosecute these claims. While the
Hitler Youth was never
declared a criminal organisation , its adult leadership was considered
tainted for corrupting the minds of young Germans. Many adult leaders
Hitler Youth were put on trial by Allied authorities, and
Baldur von Schirach was sentenced to 20 years in prison, never having
revealed anything worthwhile about the collaboration between the SS
and the HJ. However, he was convicted of crimes against humanity for
his actions as Gauleiter of Vienna, not for his leadership of the
Hitler Youth, because
Artur Axmann had been serving as the functioning
leader of the
Hitler Youth from 1940 onward. Axmann only received a
39-month prison sentence in May 1949, but was not found guilty of war
crimes. Later, in 1958, a West
Berlin court fined Axman 35,000 marks
(approximately £ 3,000, or $8,300 USD), about half the value of his
property in Berlin. The court found him guilty of indoctrinating
German youth with National Socialism until the end of the war, but
concluded he was not guilty of war crimes.
German children born in the 1920s and 1930s became adults during the
Cold War years. Since membership was compulsory after 1936, it was
neither surprising nor uncommon that many senior leaders of both West
Germany had been members of the Hitler Youth. Little effort
was made to blacklist political figures who had been members, since
many had little choice in the matter. These German post-war leaders
were nonetheless once part of an important institutional element of
Nazi Germany. Historian Gerhard Rempel opined that
Nazi Germany itself
was impossible to conceive without the Hitler Youth, as their members
constituted the "social, political, and military resiliency of the
Third Reich" and were part of "the incubator that maintained the
political system by replenishing the ranks of the dominant party and
preventing the growth of mass opposition." Rempel also reports that a
large percentage of the boys who served in the HJ slowly came to the
realization that "they had worked and slaved for a criminal cause",
which they carried for a lifetime; some of them recalled a "loss of
freedom" and claimed their time in the HJ "had robbed them of a normal
childhood." Historian Michael Kater relates how many who once served
in the HJ were silent until older age when they became grandparents,
and while they were eventually able to look back at their place in "a
dictatorship which oppressed, maimed, and killed millions", he
maintains that an "honest" appraisal should lead them to conclude that
their past contributions to the regime had "damaged their own souls."
Nazi Germany was defeated by the Allied Powers, the Hitler
Youth—like all NSDAP organisations—was officially abolished by the
Allied Control Council
Allied Control Council on 10 October 1945 and later banned by the
German Criminal Code.
German Youth Movement
* National Socialist German Students\' League
* National Socialist Schoolchildren\'s League
Opera Nazionale Balilla – Italian Fascist youth movement
* ^ Historian Richard Evans reported an even lower number of only
18,000 members of the HJ in 1930.
* ^ At the 1936
Nuremberg Rally, where there were some 100,000
participants of the HJ and Girls' League present, upwards of 900 girls
between fifteen and eighteen years of age returned home pregnant.
* ^ "Wille und Macht." germaniainternational.com. Retrieved: 1
* ^ "Other HJ publications." germaniainternational.com. Retrieved:
1 February 2010.
* ^ This fact is emphasised in the film The
White Rose which
depicts how Scholl was able to resist Nazi Germany's ideology while
being a member of the Nazi Party's youth movement.
* ^ The 1993 Thomas Carter film Swing Kids also focuses on this
* ^ Meyer was later sentenced to death by a Canadian court after
his capture for ordering the HJ to shoot 64 British and Canadian POWs
(making them complicit in a war crime).
* ^ The
Hitler Youth and their related symbology was connoted as
unconstitutional in the German Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch) (StGB):
§ 86 StGB: Verbreiten von Propagandamitteln verfassungswidriger
Organisationen (Dissemination of Propaganda Material of
Unconstitutional Organizations) and by § 86a StGB: Verwenden von
Kennzeichen verfassungswidriger Organisationen (Use of Signs of
Unconstitutional Organisations). See:
* ^ A B Lepage 2008 , p. 21.
* ^ Mühlberger 2004 , pp. 30–32.
* ^ A B Zentner & Bedürftig 1991 , p. 431.
* ^ Koch 1996 , p. 40.
* ^ Koch 1996 , pp. 40–41.
* ^ Lepage 2008 , pp. 21–23.
* ^ Klee 2005 , p. 694.
* ^ Stachura 1975 , pp. 114–115.
* ^ Evans 2006 , p. 271.
* ^ A B Zentner & Bedürftig 1991 , pp. 431, 434.
* ^ Kater 2004 , p. 16.
* ^ Zentner & Bedürftig 1991 , pp. 431, 835.
* ^ Kater 2004 , pp. 48–59.
* ^ Zentner & Bedürftig 1991 , pp. 432–435.
* ^ A B Zentner & Bedürftig 1991 , pp. 434–435.
* ^ Evans 2006 , p. 273.
* ^ Rees 2012 , p. 135.
* ^ Bonney 2009 , p. 139.
* ^ Koch 1996 , p. 220.
* ^ Rempel 1989 , p. 102.
* ^ Hildebrand 1984 , p. 45.
* ^ Kater 2004 , pp. 62–69.
* ^ Evans 2006 , p. 274.
* ^ Stephens 1973 , p. 43.
* ^ Stephens 1973 , p. 8.
* ^ Stephens 1973 , p. 73.
* ^ Koch 1996 , pp. 63, 68, 72, 105.
* ^ Mühlhäuser 2014 , p. 170.
* ^ Grunberger 1971 , p. 280.
* ^ A B McNab 2009 , p. 155.
* ^ Littlejohn 1988 , p. 55.
* ^ Shirer 1990 , pp. 254–255.
* ^ A B C Rempel 1989 , p. 266.
* ^ Koch 1996 , p. 89.
* ^ Priepke 1960 , pp. 187–189.
* ^ Shirer 1990 , p. 253.
* ^ Rempel 1989 , p. 268.
* ^ Stachura 1998 , p. 478.
* ^ Müller 1943 , pp. 87–89.
* ^ United States Holocaust Memorial Museum 2007 , p. 35.
* ^ Stachura 1998 , p. 479.
* ^ A B Evans 2006 , p. 272.
* ^ Fulbrook 2011 , pp. 140–142.
* ^ Williamson 2002 , p. 55.
* ^ Kater 2004 , pp. 122–123.
* ^ Hamilton 1984 , p. 247.
* ^ Stein 1984 , pp. 205–206.
* ^ Rempel 1989 , p. 68.
* ^ Dear -webkit-column-width: 30em; column-width: 30em;">
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* Media related to Hitlerjugend at Wikimedia Commons
* Neville Chamberlain writes to