The Hitler-Youth; Hitler-Jungen and the Bund Deutscher Madel
In the period between 1925 -1945 in Nazi Germany the Hitler-Jungen was formed and developed, this group for girls, boys, and teenagers, ages 10-18 indoctrinated German youth in Nazi ideology, and trained them to function within the society of the Third Reich. This paper will outline the history of the Hitler-Jungen. The Hitler-Jungen was varied and complex ; it differed based on region, time period, class status of members, ideological beliefs, and ideas about gender, race, and goals. Because of the complexity of the history and significance of this group I will present them separately after a general introduction to the conditions that shaped the Hitler-Youth; starting with the Hitler-Jungen for boys, and then the Bund Deutscher Madel (League of German Girls).
Both the Hitler-Jungen (HJ) for boys, and the Bund Duetscher Madel (BDM) for girls started in 1926 at a time when Hitler was just gaining power and trying to consolidate his control of Germany. The Hitler-Youth served as a way of indoctrinating youth into both the mental and physical/practical
applications of Nazism. Youth learnt the basic ideological tenets; belief in the Fuhrer, in the racial superiority of Aryans, in the necessity of following your leaders in a hierarchical system, in the goal of a German World Empire,' and they also underwent all of the physical preparation and training for combat. Naturally the preparation for boys and girls differed in that girls did not undergo military training; instead they were prepared to be good homemakers and child-bearers, to be passive, and not to participate in politics.
Membership in the Hitler-Youth did not become compulsory until March 25th 1939, but the unofficial pressure on youth to join, and on their parents and teachers to encourage them to join was very great before and after 1939. If you were not a member you could not go to the University, you were denied certain jobs, could not inherit a farm, or be a member of the Nazi Party; you also risked arrest on false charges and threats from the SS, and from members of the Hitler-Youth. If you became a member and missed meetings you could also be jailed for short periods, and have other various consequences enforced.
The percentage of youth ages 18-30 in 1933 was 1/3 of the total population, this meant that in a period of economic instability, (after the collapse of the Weimar Republic) competition for jobs was fierce, and many youth joined the HJ to gain the added possibilities for mobility and advancement. Generational conflict was strong in this period, as many of the youth's fathers had fought in World War One, many youth did not know or understand their fathers well, (also many of their fathers had died at the front) and the youth often rebelled from their overworked mothers. Many youth found a stable, "protective" father figure in Hitler. The youth sought independence from their families, and the Hitler-Youth movement encouraged this by describing the older generation and teachers, as old-fashioned and lacking proper authority/knowledge. The youth found security, status, power, and community by joining the HJ. Some youth even reversed their allegiances entirely, from family to HJ, and in some cases would even report their parents for suspicious activities, Bertold Brecht wrote of this is in his play "Fear and misery of the third Reich." Later Orwell would also describe this in "1984" in relation to Stalinism. (See Appendix) Uncooperative teachers were dismissed, and unsupportive parents could lose their jobs or in rare cases arrested.
Germany had a long history of many types of youth groups, from radical left, to centrist, to radical right. From 1900 on they tended to be Bunde (leagues) of young, costly males. They were often apolitical and formed of the upper classes, for hiking and philosophical discussion. Many of these groups especially the "wandervogel" supported World War...
Bibliography: Burleigh, Michael. The Third Reich. Hill and Wang, 2000.
Levi, Primo. Survival in Auschwitz. Touchstone, 1958.
3) From the First Leaflet (1942) of the Weisse Rose (White Rose) Youth Resistance Group:
Nothing is so unworthy of a civilized nation as allowing itself to be governed without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct
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