“He who owns the youth gains the future.”
-Adolf Hitler (Keeley 10)
The Hitler Youth was an organization, formed in 1922 by the Nazi Party, whose main purpose was to train and educate boys and girls, from ages 10 to 18, to become loyal followers of the Nazi Party as well as future members of the German military. The Youth accomplished this mainly by means of indoctrinating nationalism, pride, and devotion to the Nazi Party, Germany, and Adolf Hitler, into Germany’s Aryan youth.
Not all German children were allowed in the elite group that was the Hitler Youth. There were very strict requirements that the children had to meet before being accepted for a trial period. To be accepted, four standards had to be met: 1. Racial purity, in other words, only pure Aryan blood, meaning Nordic or Caucasian people with no mixture of Jewish ancestry; blond hair and blue eyes distinguished the purest Aryans, teaching the children segregation. Since not everyone in Germany was Aryan, not everyone could join. 2. A child could not have any hereditary diseases in their family. For example, for a child to be considered eligible, they could not have any prostitutes in their family, or epileptics, or schizophrenics (shown by moodiness or temper tantrums in young children, indifferent housekeeping in women, and irregular work patterns in men), or any homosexuals. However, some boys and girls were allowed to join a special section of the Youth, The Disabled and Infirm Hitler Youth, as long as they passed racial tests and did not have any mentally handicaps 3. Children could not have any ‘objectionable’ political views, they had to show excitement about Nazi ideals, and finally, 4. All eligible children had to be physically fit (Keeley 14). If all four of these requirements were met, the child was eligible for a trial period with the Hitler Youth. During the trial period, children had to pass physical as well as mental tests: “We were required to dive off the three-meter board headfirst into the towns swimming pool,” said Alfons Heck, “There were some stinging belly flops, but the pain was worth it when our leader handed us the coveted dagger with its inscription BLOOD AND HONOR. From that moment on, we were fully accepted.” (Bartoletti 27). The official Youth initiation ceremony was normally held on April 20 each year, as Hitler’s birthday present the newly accepted children took this oath: “In the presence of the Blood Banner, which represents our Fuhrer, I swear to devote all my energies and my strength to the savior of our country, Adolf Hitler. I am willing and ready to give up my life for Him, so help me, God.” (Bartoletti 24)
The Hitler Youth, one must keep in mind, had many sub-groups within it. The group a child was placed in depended upon their gender and age. The Jungvolk and Jungmadel, were meant for boys and girls, respectively, and those were divided into even more categories. The Jungvolk mainly prepared boys mentally and physically for military service, the Jungmadel mainly prepared girls to be good wives and mothers. Depending upon which group a child was in, they would participate in different activities, all of which were competitive, most physically straining. After all, Hitler felt that “The weak must be chiseled away. I want young men and women who can suffer pain. A young German must be as swift as a greyhound, as tough as leather, and as hard as Krupp’s steel,” (Trueman).
Activities that the children participated in were rigorous, and were meant to make the children strong, both physically and mentally, as well as to eliminate weakness. The activities for younger Hitler Youth members were: sports, singing, hiking, camping, going on Nazi marches, and collecting materials such as rubber, scrap metal, and paper for the war effort. Writer J.R. Tunus wrote about the Hitler Youth in 1936, and stated that part of the older boys “military athletics” included marching, bayonet drills, grenade throwing,...
Cited: Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow. New York: Scholastic Inc., 2005. Print.
Keeley, Jennifer. Life in the Hitler Youth. San Diego: Lucent Books, 2000. Print.
“Sophie Scholl.” U*X*L Biographies. Detroit: U*X*L, 2003. Gale Student Resources in Context. Web. 5 Apr. 2012.
Trueman, Chris. “The Hitler Youth.” History Learning Site. 2012. Web. 24 March 2012.
Van Ells, Mark D. “Americans for Hitler.” America in WWII. 2007. Web. 11 April 2012.
Zapotoczny, Jr., Walter S. “Hitler Youth.” World Book Advanced. World Book, 2012. Web. 21 Mar. 2012.
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