The Hitler Youth Explained

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1973-060-72,_Wandernde_Hitlerjungen.jpg. Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1973-060-72 / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1973-060-72,_Wandernde_Hitlerjungen.jpg. Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1973-060-72 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

In this article, we will be discussing the Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend in German) movement. This was a youth organization that was founded by Adolf Hitler in 1922 and served as the Nazi Party's official youth organization. The goal of the Hitler Youth was to indoctrinate young boys into becoming loyal Nazis, and to train them for future service in the military or other branches of the government. 

 

The Bund Deutscher Mädel was the female counterpart to the Hitler Youth, and both organizations were compulsory for children of Nazi Party members. All other German children were encouraged, but not required, to join. Finally, it did not accept Jews. Between the years 1930 and 1935, Jewish teenagers established their own youth organizations in Germany.

Background

In March 1922, the Hitler Youth League (Jugendbund der NSDAP) was formed. In 1924, it was named the Greater German Youth Movement, and then called the Hitler Youth, League of German Worker Youth (Hitler-Jugend, Bund deutscher Arbeiterjugend) in July 1926.

 

By 1931, it was divided into four sections, based upon gender and age: 

 

German Youngsters (Deutsches Jungvolk) for boys 10-14 years old; 

Young Girls' League (Jungmädelbund) for girls 10-14 years old; 

The League of German Girls (Bund Deutscher Mädel, or BDM) for girls 14-18 years old; 

Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend) for boys 14-18 years old.

In 1931, Baldur von Schirach was named head of the Hitler Youth movement, but in 1940, he became the Nazi Party leader of Vienna. Artur Axmann, a Hitler Youth leader aged 27, took his place.


The purpose of the group

The Hitler Youth was originally established as a way to instill Nazi values in the young people of Germany. The Hitler Youth was an important part of the Nazi regime, and played a significant role in indoctrinating young people into the Nazi way of thinking. 

 

The organizations accomplished this by controlling the lives of Germany's youth because membership in the organization required significant investment of their time. Its members were expected to participate in a variety of activities such as paramilitary training, political education, and outdoor camping trips. The Hitler Youth also ran its own schools and youth clubs, where members could learn about Nazi ideology and partake in physical fitness activities. 

 

The Third Reich's indoctrination policies severely eroded the impact of parents, teachers, religious authorities, and other authoritative figures. In fact, members were encouraged to submit reports about their leaders if they disagreed with Nazi ideology.

 

The Hitler Youth served as a training ground for future soldiers and leaders of the Nazi regime, teaching them how to use weapons, march, salute Nazi officials, and participate in political rallies and marches. Many young men who joined the Hitler Youth went on to serve in the German military during World War II.

Popularity

The Hitler Youth movement was extremely successful in its early years, growing from just a few hundred members in 1922 to over two million by 1933. This growth can be attributed to several factors, including the fact that membership was seen as a way to curry favor with the Nazi regime. 

 

Another factor was the appeal of the Hitler Youth's activities, which included camping trips, sports competitions, and other outdoor activities that appealed to young boys. 

 

Gleichschaltung, the Nazi policy of totalitarian control, also played a role in the Hitler Youth's success. This policy aimed to control all aspects of German society, and the Hitler Youth was seen as a way to indoctrinate young people into the Nazi way of thinking. 

 

In March 1939, a new regulation required all children between the ages of ten and 18 to join the Hitler Youth. The only legal youth organization in Nazi Germany from that point forward was the Hitler Youth. Those who did not comply would be fined or imprisoned.


Activities

The Hitler Youth was organised as a military organization. It was created to teach boys how to become future fighters and soldiers for the Nazi cause. The Hitler Youth had an enlisted military structure at the local, regional, and national levels as an official organization of the Nazi state.

 

In the summer months, boys trained in military techniques and learned to use weapons. In the summer months, they worked on farms and took part in competitive sports, particularly boxing. Some kids liked the physical strain, rivalry, and camaraderie that came with it. Others found it overwhelming and alienating to be constantly focused on preparing for war while sacrificing themselves for their country.

 

The League of German Girls was designed to teach young women how to be future wives and mothers. Girls also took part in physical activities, such as gymnastics. Individual girls' sports were less common than group sports. Activities such as these helped to illustrate the value of collaboration. The League educated young women on how to take care of their homes and families. Sewing, nursing, culinary arts, and domestic upkeep were just a few of the abilities that girls developed.

 

By the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the Hitler Youth had trained a generation of young people to fight and colonize foreign territory. Young men and women who became members of the Hitler Youth in the early 1930s had been taught useful skills as well as Nazi concepts. Those who were over the age of 18 utilized these skills to contribute to the German war effort. They served in the military, as police officers, secretaries, nurses, and doctors.


End of the program

The Hitler Youth movement began to decline in popularity after 1934, when membership became mandatory for all German boys aged 14-18. This change made many parents hesitant to allow their sons to join, as they did not want them to be forced into military service. 

 

The outbreak of World War II also led to a decline in membership, as many young men were drafted into the German military. The last major recruitment drive for the Hitler Youth was in 1944, when the Nazi regime began to collapse. 

 

By the end of World War II, the Nazi Youth were used as a last line of defense against the Allied forces. The Hitler Youth fought fiercely but were ultimately no match for the better, trained and, equipped soldiers of the Allies. 

 

The Hitler Youth movement officially ended in May 1945, when Allied troops occupied Germany. After the war, the Nazi Party, like other fascist organizations, was made illegal. The Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls were likewise banned.

 

In the aftermath of the war, many former members of the Hitler Youth were tried as war criminals. Others managed to avoid punishment by claiming that they had been forced to join the organization.