Hitler Youth

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Hitler Youth uniform from the 1930s

The Hitler Youth or Hitler Youth (abbreviated HJ ) was the youth and youth organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP). It was named after Adolf Hitler from 1926 and expanded under the dictatorship of National Socialism in Germany from 1933 to the only state-recognized youth association with up to 8.7 million members (98 percent of all German young people).

"The HJ wants to cover both the entirety of the youth as well as the entire area of ​​life of the young German." This has been true for both sexes since the foundation of the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM), the female branch of the Hitler Youth, from June 1930. Under National Socialism, the Hitler Youth was one of the organizations that embodied the proclaimed national community in a special way .

The "youth service obligation" regulated by law since March 1939 affected all young people between 10 and 18 years of age and had to be completed two days a week. The focus of the organizations according to the “ leader principle ” was physical and ideological training; it included racist and social Darwinist indoctrination and joint hikes or marches and physical exercises in the open air. These were supposed to harden ten-year-old male youths and prepare them for military service in the long term : “What are we? Pimp ! What do we want to be? Soldiers! ”Practicing command and obedience, camaraderie, discipline and self-sacrifice for the“ national community ”was one of the primary educational goals. During the Second World War, Hitler Youth units provided social, police and military auxiliary services. From the beginning of 1943 they were partly used as flak helpers , in the last weeks of the war also in the Volkssturm ; many of the boys fell in the process. The soldiers drafted into the "Hitler Youth" SS division set up especially for them suffered heavy losses.

After it had effectively ceased to exist towards the end of the war in April / May 1945, the Hitler Youth was banned and dissolved by the Control Council Act No. 2 on October 10, 1945 together with all other organizations affiliated to the NSDAP, and its assets were confiscated. In the Federal Republic of Germany, with all its subdivisions, it is one of the unconstitutional organizations within the meaning of Section 86 of the Criminal Code . Their symbols and labels are subject to the prohibition of dissemination according to § 86a StGB.


The historical background of the Hitler Youth is formed by concepts for “youth care” in the empire , which generally provided for “military training” and national education of male youth between elementary school and barracks and which were introduced in state laws since 1888. At the end of 1916, the third OHL, as part of the Hindenburg program, initiated the law on patriotic auxiliary service, which in some cases affected minors . These militaristic concepts were continued after the November Revolution in the form of numerous "military sports groups" of right-wing parties and paramilitary associations. Military discipline was also a common part of the activities of most non-partisan youth organizations.

In March 1922, the "Youth League of the NSDAP" was founded as the party's first official youth organization in Munich . The initiative for this came from NSDAP member Adolf Lenk , not from the party leadership. The youth league was divided into “young teams” (14 to 16 year olds) and the “Jungsturm Adolf Hitler ” (16 to 18 year olds). The latter was directly subordinate to the SA and was considered their youth department. In the beginning, the young people therefore wore the same uniform as members of the SA. As a result, the youth association was barely perceived as an independent organization, publicly or within the party.

After the Hitler putsch in 1923, the NSDAP was initially banned. As a result, the youth association largely dissolved. After the party was re-admitted, various individual groups competed under code names for recognition as party youth: among them the " Schill Youth " founded by Gerhard Roßbach . Kurt Gruber in Plauen in Vogtland succeeded in 1926 in enlarging some of these groups and merging them into the "Greater German Youth Movement" (GDJB), which was initially limited to Saxony . After a short power struggle, Gruber prevailed against Roßbach and achieved that the GDJB was recognized as a party youth.

Development until 1933

In July 1926 in Weimar at the second party congress of the NSDAP, which had been re-established in 1925, the GDJB was renamed to “Hitler Youth, Bund deutscher Arbeiterjugend” at a special conference for youth issues in the club “Armbrust”. It was named after Hans Severus Ziegler , later deputy Gauleiter in Thuringia ; Julius Streicher successfully suggested the name. Gruber was appointed "Reichsführer" of the Hitler Youth and appointed to the party's Reich leadership.

The HJ was henceforth the most important youth organization of the NSDAP, but remained subordinate to the SA until 1932. You could become a member at the earliest at the age of 14, at 18 you had to join the NSDAP or (from 1927) the SA. All Hitler Youth leaders had to be confirmed in writing by NSDAP local group leaders. At first they did not do youth work, but took part in street fights and parades of the NSDAP. From 1928 onwards, home evenings, group trips, excursions, etc. were organized. From 1929, HJ student groups were formed, which Adrian von Renteln brought together in the National Socialist Student Union (NSS). The German young people from 10 to 14 year olds also came into being at that time. The "sororities", which had also been formed since 1926, were renamed the Bund Deutscher Mädel in 1930 .

On May 1, 1931, the Reich leadership of the Hitler Youth was relocated from Plauen to Munich. In October 1931, the office of " Reich Youth Leader " was set up within the SA leadership and was filled with Baldur von Schirach . Schirach, who had only acted as a reporter at the founding party congress, had led the National Socialist German Student Union (NSDStB) since 1929 , and exercised his new office while retaining his previous leadership position. He received the rank of SA group leader. The three NS youth organizations, HJ, National Socialist Student Union and NSDStB , were now subject to Schirach. The previous Reichsführer of the Hitler Youth, Gruber, resigned from his office on November 1, 1931 and was appointed to the youth committee of the Reich leadership of the NSDAP. Adrian von Renteln became the new Reichsführer of the Hitler Youth on November 1, 1931 . The previously independent Bund Deutsches Jungvolk was affiliated to the HJ: 15-year-olds had to switch to the actual HJ, 18-year-olds continued to switch to the SA.

In March 1932, Hitler canceled the integration of the HJ into the SA because the SA was threatened with a state ban. Nevertheless, the HJ was temporarily banned on April 13, 1932, but continued to work under the name NS youth movement. Schirach claimed that the HJ had gained 35,000 members in those months. After the SA and HJ ban was lifted, he took over the overall management of the NS youth work, integrated the NS student union into the HJ and centralized its structures. From September 1932, HJ company cells were also set up.

At the Reich Youth Day of the HJ in Potsdam on October 1 and 2, 1932, around 80,000 young people took part, who marched past Hitler in columns for seven hours. The Hitler Youth was surprisingly accepted into the Reich Committee of German Youth Associations , in which all German youth associations had voluntarily united.

During the Weimar Republic , a total of 24 members of the Hitler Youth lost their lives in violent political conflicts, most of them in the years after 1930. Among them was Herbert Norkus , who was killed by communists on January 24, 1932 during an advertising campaign for the NSDAP in Berlin-Moabit has been. In the period that followed, he was celebrated by the National Socialists as a “role model for the fighting commitment of the Hitler Youth” and as a “ blood witness of the movement”. In 1933 the propaganda film " Hitlerjunge Quex " was made, which transfigured Norkus' fate.

Synchronization of youth associations

Two members of the Hitler Youth laying field telephone cables as military training, 1933

At the beginning of 1933 the HJ had 108,000 members. Since Hitler took office on January 30, 1933, a huge advertising campaign has been going on to get the youngsters to join the Hitler Youth. It was advertised with rides and tent camps . The Reiter-, Motor-, Flieger-, Marine- , Nachrichten-HJ and other special units addressed the technically gifted and sporty youngsters; for the artistically talented there were fanfares and game groups . Celebrations such as the summer solstice or in memory of the “martyrs of the movement” promised community experiences.

On April 5, 1933, the Hitler Youth under Schirach occupied the office of the Reich Committee of German Youth Associations . Thereupon Hitler appointed him on June 17 the "youth leader of the German Reich". Schirach continued the Reich Committee until July 22, 1933 and appointed the disempowered association leaders to a "youth council". Some had protested against the occupation, but now accepted Schirach's appeal, including Erich Stange for the Reich Association of Protestant Young Men and the representatives of the Catholic Association of Young Men and the Youth Association.

After the banning of all political parties except the Nazi Party in July 1933 Schirach also asked the DC circuit of youth associations: "Like the NSDAP now is the only party, the HJ must be the only youth organization." By banning, dissolution, dissolution, conversion and acquisition other youth associations - among the first the Großdeutsche Bund - the HJ grew to almost four million members by 1935. The office of the Reich Youth Leader became a "Supreme Reich Authority", in which state youth policy and Hitler Youth leadership were united. Schirach managed it until 1940, followed by Arthur Axmann . Anyone who did not join the Hitler Youth was considered an outsider. Officials were required to send their children to the Hitler Youth.

The attempt to integrate the Protestant youth organizations was largely prevented by their self-dissolution. The unsuccessful harmonization of the Protestant youth intensified the church struggle within the German Evangelical Church in some regional churches .

Objective: Complete coverage of the young generation

The Hitler Youth was the core element of a comprehensive program for the organizational recording, control and indoctrination of the young generation. Hitler himself bluntly formulated this program in a much-quoted speech in Reichenberg ( Sudetenland ) in 1938, to the cheers of the young people who stood:

“These young people, who learn nothing else than to think in German, to act in German, and when these boys come into our organization at the age of ten and often get and feel fresh air there for the first time, then they come from the young people four years later into the Hitler Youth, and we'll keep them there for another four years. And then we certainly do not give them back into the hands of our old class and class producers, but then we immediately take them into the party, the labor front , the SA or the SS, the NSKK and so on. And if they have been there for two years or a year and a half and have not yet become full National Socialists, then they come to the labor service and are sanded there again for six and seven months ... And what then ... in terms of class consciousness or arrogance here or there should still be there, the Wehrmacht will take over for further treatment for two years (applause), and when they ... return, we will immediately take them back to the SA, SS and so on so that they do not relapse under any circumstances continue and they will no longer be free all their lives! (Applause)."

Ideological orientation

Declaration of entry into the Hitler Youth from 1938
HJ membership card

"The National Socialist state saw itself as the embodiment of 'young' Germany" and "saw in young people the most important vehicle for shaping the future politically and soldiers". The Hitler Youth was supposed to prepare the young people at an early stage for their intended role as a national race elite, to encourage them to despise and "stamp out" everything weak, and to prepare the young people for their versatile use in war.

In accordance with the overall orientation of the Nazi state, which was obedient to authority, Hitler's “Führer words” also had a trend-setting weight in education. Hitler had already developed his ideal of upbringing in his treatise Mein Kampf , which he wrote during his imprisonment in Landsberg and which was later given to the newlyweds for marriage. Accordingly, a physically and mentally “unspoiled sex” should be used, “which consciously finds its way back to the primitive instinct ” and had to fight everything that, according to Hitler's ideas, in the Western-Christian civilization led to “softening” and “decomposition” of the national Self-assertion had led.

In mass events, Hitler proclaimed his educational goals in a propagandistic way. In his speech on September 14, 1935 in front of around 50,000 HJ boys in the Nuremberg stadium, he demanded that they be "nimble as greyhounds, tough as leather, hard as Krupp steel":

“Nothing is given in the life of nations; everything must be fought for and conquered. [...] You have to learn to be tough, to accept hardships without ever collapsing. "

Physical activism was one of the primary characteristics of upbringing and was intended to purposefully channel the young people's urge to be active. With a wide range of different competitions and badges, the "selection of the most capable" was promoted and a combative attitude made mandatory. "Only fight and victory", it says in the dissertation of a Hitler Youth leader, "gives the individual as well as the whole people pride and self-confidence towards their adversaries."

In the HJ organizational framework, this performance and selection principle was brought into effect in a very pronounced system of ranks, promotions and badges of rank. According to Arno Klönne , the line “activism-performance-combat-sport-physical fitness” also gave access to the biological worldview of NS in the form of racial theory . On the other hand, little emphasis was placed on intellectual education in the traditional sense in Nazi education. Rather, the thrust was anti-intellectual. It would not do, Hitler had already said in “Mein Kampf”, to load the young brains with unnecessary ballast. School, he wrote, should “free up infinitely more time for physical exercise.” Boxing in particular should not be forgotten. This would train and develop an aggressive spirit, lightning-fast decisiveness and steely suppleness. “Of course, this may seem wild in the eyes of our intellectual fighters today. But the völkisch state does not have the task of raising a colony of peaceful aesthetes and physical degenerates. ”The fact that these goals had undesirable consequences emerges from the“ very devastating ”judgment after a 1942 survey of the 1925 class in the Franconian district of Ebermannstadt :

“It seems to be the case that immediately after the national survey the schoolchildren don't do it anymore because of the sheer school holidays, state youth days (school-free Saturdays), all-day and half-days off, limited hours, sporting events, hikes, leave of absence, holding collections, etc. have come to learn to write and arithmetic, etc., first and foremost. "

The National Socialist educational model decreed by the Hitler Youth meant a complete turning away from the traditional lines of freedom that had been in effect in Germany since the Enlightenment and which, among other things, had developed in various ways in the educational reform approaches of the Weimar Republic . In the Hitler Youth, on the other hand, it was about the fight against everything that was considered “un-German” and “unsoldatic”, including the values ​​of humanism , general human rights and democracy . In addition to the internal social break, the cultural break also had a deliberately anti-Bolshevik and anti-Western direction. This generally concerned “decadent international Judaism ”, but also led specifically to the delimitation, for example, of American films apostrophized as degenerate art , from jazz and from modern art forms .

Enforcement of compulsory service

Former state youth school in Trier - Biewer

Baldur von Schirach, appointed by Hitler on June 17, 1933 as "Youth Leader of the German Reich", introduced a weekly " State Youth Day " on Saturday in the same year , on which all members of the Jungvolk and Jungmädeln for the HJ service were exempted from school lessons duration. As a side effect, the non-members were stimulated and socially pressured to join the Hitler Youth as well.

On December 1, 1936 the law on the Hitler Youth was passed ( Reichsgesetzblatt 1936, p. 993 ):

“The future of the German people depends on the youth. All German youth must therefore be prepared for their future duties. The Reich Government has therefore passed the following law, which is hereby promulgated.

§ 1 The entire German youth within the Reich territory is summarized in the Hitler Youth.
§ 2 The entire German youth is to be educated physically, mentally and morally in the spirit of National Socialism for service to the people and the national community, except in their parents' home and school. "

This made the HJ the only educational institution for all German young people from the age of 10, alongside family and school. Conventional youth work was made impossible for other organizations - including the church-based ones. As a result, the Hitler Youth grew to seven million young people by 1938. The State Youth Day was canceled again because a five-day school week brought disadvantages. School lessons on Saturday were instead limited to four school hours. Now more and more official duties were introduced for members of the Hitler Youth, including a “country year”, a “working year” and a “compulsory year for girls” in the age of conscripted men.

With the passing of the second implementing ordinance for the HJ law ( Reichsgesetzblatt 1939, p. 710 ), compulsory youth service was introduced on March 25, 1939 . Even the ten-year-old boys were obliged to join the “German Young People”, the girls into the “Young Girls' Association”. However, certain population groups were excluded from this; those who appeared unsuitable for service in the Hitler Youth could be wholly or partially exempted from service or postponed. The legal guardians were obliged, under threat of punishment, to register their children with the responsible Hitler Youth leadership; the young people could be forced to do their duty by police means ( § 12 of the regulation ). A total of 1.7 million young people were also recorded in the HJ. Compulsory youth service was not fully enforced everywhere, but objectors and their parents had to reckon not only with the statutory sanctions but also with considerable disadvantages in school and at work. So was z. For example, for young people who attended higher state schools or for young people who themselves or their parents were employed in the public service, a refusal is almost impossible.

Jewish mixed race ” and “Gypsy mixed race with predominantly German blood” were also compulsory in the general Hitler Youth; In 1941, however, the "first degree Jewish half-breeds" were removed from it. At the same time, children from “racially valuable, non-German families capable of Germanization” who had been given German citizenship upon revocation were admitted.

Along with the introduction of compulsory youth service, a first implementing ordinance was issued on March 25, 1939 ( Reichsgesetzblatt 1939, p. 709 ), which introduced a formal distinction between a general Hitler Youth and a “Stamm-Hitler-Jugend”. Anyone who had already belonged to the Hitler Youth on April 20, 1938, was considered a “voluntary and politically interested member” and was easily included in the “Stamm-Hitler-Jugend”, which was a division of the NSDAP and from which the future leadership should be recruited. Other young people who had performed well in the Hitler Youth for at least a year and who met the requirements according to their descent could voluntarily apply for admission to the “Stamm-Hitler-Jugend”.

The "service" of the members of the Stamm-Hitler-Jugend and the general Hitlerjugend took place in the same unit, the only difference was the status of the respective member.

Fields of activity of the Hitler Youth service

Shooting training for members of the Hitler Youth in a military training camp
Tent camp of the Hitler Youth, 1933

Until the war, the general duty roster provided for a two-hour "home afternoon" - always on Wednesdays - and a "sports afternoon" - often on Saturdays - for young people and young girls, and for those aged 14 and over, corresponding "home and sports evenings". The home afternoons and evenings were used for " ideological training ". Central areas of National Socialist ideology were dealt with here. For this purpose, the Reich Youth Leadership issued training booklets for all four HJ divisions: “Die Jungenschaft” (young people), “Die Kameradschaft” (HJ), “Die Jungmädelschaft” (Jungmädelbund) and “Die Mädelschaft” (BDM). The portfolios had titles such as “The way to the east”, “Keeping the blood clean”, “Arsonist Jew”, “The nation is on the peasants”, “Germany is bigger” and “Fight against the world enemy Bolshevism”. In addition, in the afternoons and evenings at home, there was reading, doing and handicrafts (including for the winter charity ) and the girls in particular singing a lot. The songs were not only used for entertainment, but were also an important instrument for indoctrination. For sport, the “State Youth Day” was set up on Saturday from 1934 to 1936, on which the Hitler Youth members were given free school. For the young people there were also “field service” and “shooting service”. Once a month, each of the four branches had to go to a “group roll call” in uniform, during which service instructions were passed on. The young people in special units also had to spend an evening for technical training and a Sunday for practical services. Each group of the four main divisions also went on a trip once a month. The daily schedule of the tent camps included drills , all kinds of sport, target practice, flag roll calls and cross-country marches.

According to the motto “youth should be led by youth”, boys and girls in the lower units were led by only slightly older children and young people in the HJ. The senior management positions were held by adults, often teachers. This changed during the war, when young people were given high offices because of the lack of leaders. Schirach gave the line that “character formation through experience” should be rated higher than “formal mind training.” In contrast to the youth movement of the Weimar period, these youth leaders were determined from above and could not be called to account by the Hitler Youth members under them. Arno Klönne sums up:

“The leadership structure of the Hitler Youth was thus completely hierarchical; a formal responsibility of the leadership was only given upwards [...] The command channels, service areas and competencies were regulated down to the last detail according to the military model. "

The higher management ranks from the position of the ban leader and the ban girl leader were active full-time, the main heads of the ban staff were paid, in the area management almost the entire staff. Michael H. Kater judges:

"This leadership principle may have seemed tempting to young Germans at the time, but it opened the door to incompetence, abuse and corruption."

Karl-Heinz Janßen described the mechanisms of action from his own experience as Pimpf as follows:

“Twelve-year-old horde leaders shouted ten-year-old Pimpfe together and chased them all over schoolyards, meadows and fields. The slightest rebellion, the most harmless deficiencies in the uniform, the slightest delay were immediately punished with punitive exercises - impotent subordinates let their anger out on us. But the chicane had a method: From childhood we were drilled into toughness and blind obedience [...] How did we endure it for only four years? Why did we swallow our tears, our pain bitter? Why never complain to parents and teachers about what bad happened to us there? I can only explain it this way: We were all ambitious, wanted to impress the subordinates through exemplary discipline, toughness, and jagged demeanor. Because those who were capable were promoted, were allowed to adorn themselves with cords and braids, were allowed to command themselves, even if only for the five minutes in which the 'Führer' had disappeared behind the bushes. "

One of the main tasks of the Hitler Youth was the "physical fitness" of the youth. Since 1934 she carried out the two-hour weekly compulsory school sport for young people. In the same year membership in a sports club was linked to membership in the HJ, which brought many new members to the HJ. On August 1, 1936 (the day the Olympic Games opened ), she took over all extracurricular voluntary sport for 10- to 14-year-olds by dissolving the youth departments of the sports clubs organized in the Reichsbund für physical exercises . With the "Law on the Hitler Youth" in December 1936, she declared herself responsible for competitive sports and from then on organized all youth sports competitions. The youth departments of the Reichsbund were now headed by Hitler Youth leaders and ensured that the sports clubs had young talent. The contract with the Reich Sports Leader Hans von Tschammer und Osten ensured that the sporting youth work was not neglected, as the activity of the instructor was now recognized as a party service. In the competitions, however, the athletes initially continued in their previous and not in Hitler Youth jerseys, as this could not be organized otherwise for the team sports. There were large numbers of participants in annual competitions such as the Reich Sports Competition and the Reich Professional Competition for apprentices of all professions.

Scrap metal collection of the Hitler Youth in Worms, 1938

With this, as well as with harvest work, land and health services, the Hitler Youth occupied a large part of the youth's free time. It was not important to the Hitler Youth leaders to encourage independent and critical thinking in the children. The aim was solely the physical fitness and military discipline of the members. Above all, the children's feelings and feelings should be addressed, they should "take with them" an overall experience from the excursions and trips together.

In addition, the members of the young people and the HJ were called in to help the Winter Relief Organization (WHW): collecting donations with collection cans on the street with badges, sorting and packing donations in kind. The tasks also included the regular collection of scrap metal and paper for reuse in the Nazi economy. There was also an initially voluntary Reich Labor Service (RAD) for young people. From 1935 this became mandatory for the male and from 1939 for the female youth. This service was used, among other things, in the construction of roads, canals and fortifications such as the Siegfried Line.


Flag of the Hitler Youth
Emblem of the Hitler Youth

The Hitler Youth, originally affiliated to the SA, came increasingly under the influence of the SS after the Röhm Putsch in 1934. Some 17-year-old Hitler Youth were already included in the SS elite unit " Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler ".

In addition to the breakdown by age and region, there were a large number of HJ special units to record the 14 to 18-year-old boys with regard to their talents and interests and to bind them to the regime.

Age distribution and regional structure

As early as July 1933, Schirach issued appropriate provisions for the "HJ divisions":

  • The German Jungvolk (DJ) now comprised the 10 to 14 year old boys, called Pimpfe ,
  • the Jungmädelbund (JM) comprised 10 to 14 year old girls,
  • the actual Hitler Youth comprised the 14 to 18 year old boys,
  • the Association of German Girls (BDM) the 14 to 18 year old girls. The BDM was later limited to a maximum age of 17 years, and it followed
  • the BDM work Faith and Beauty for 17 to 21 year old girls.

The structures of the four main divisions had different names, but were structured in the same way. Below the Reich Youth Leadership , the Reich area was divided into - depending on the time - between 20 and 42 areas (for DJ and actual HJ) or Obergaue (for JM and BDM), which in turn were more and more finely subdivided, right down to small groups organized according to place of residence ten members each, who were referred to as boys' union (DJ), comradeship (actual HJ), young girls' body (JM) or girls' body (BDM).

Hitler Youth (HJ)
… male … Female
German Young Folk (DJ) Hitler Youth Jungmädelbund (JM) Association of German Girls (BDM)
area Obergau
spell Untergau
Line / from 1938 young line Unterann / from 1938 trunk Jungmadelring Girl ring
Flag Allegiance Jungmaedel group Group of girls
Young train Crowd Young girls crowd Girls crowd
Boyhood Camaraderie Young girls Girlhood

Below the level Jungstamm / Stamm / ... the subdivisions of the HJ each comprised three to four units of the next lower level, above the scope was dependent on geographical conditions, a ban or Untergau consisted of four to six young tribes / tribes / ..., the areas or Obergaue from about 20 spells or Untergaue. A young tribe / tribe / ... comprised an average of around 600 members, a Bann or Untergau comprised between 2400 and 3600 members.

In 1934 the German Reich was subdivided into five upper regions and 19 regions or Obergaue, and in 1938 a sixth upper region was added with the annexation of Austria . By 1942 the number of territories or upper meadows rose to a total of 42, plus four command posts in the occupied states ( Reich Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia , General Government , Netherlands , East for Eastern and Southeastern Europe). In the Reich area, the boundaries of the areas were based on the regional division of the NSDAP .

Special units

In the following years, special units were set up for "special training" in the Hitler Youth, which were attractive to young people with certain talents or areas of interest:

Most of these special units were subordinate to the Bannführer, but were also set up as special troops, followers and tribes depending on local conditions. With the imparting of specialist knowledge, especially in technical and military areas, the Hitler Youth activities went far beyond normal youth work.

As a special form, the crowd should also be mentioned: choirs, orchestras and fanfare groups for the DJ and minstrels and music groups for the Hitler Youth. Musically gifted young people were organized here, who played at events, gave concerts and called on people to sing along with so-called "open singing" on streets and squares. During the war they were also used in hospitals, resettlement camps and barracks. Particularly good game groups were affiliated with the Reich broadcasters as radio game groups and designed musical radio broadcasts. In addition, well-known children's choirs such as the Regensburger Domspatzen or the Vienna Boys' Choir were officially run as a play group, even if they retained their organizational and musical independence.

In the BDM, according to the National Socialist image of women, there were initially only "play units" and "health service troops" as special units. Telecommunication services, housekeeping and medical services were added during the war. Units trained in this way were specifically grouped together and deployed in emergencies, with the girls being released from their schooling or vocational training.


The ranks of the Hitler Youth describes NS ranks . In addition, there was the HJ school leader in higher schools .

HJ ranks no.jpg

  • 1 Hitler Youth
  • 2 Rottenführer
  • 3 Oberrottenführer
  • 4 comradeship leaders
  • 5 senior comradeship leaders
  • 6 squad leaders
  • 7 Oberscharführer
  • 9 Supreme Succession Leader
  • 10 principal followers
  • 11 regular leaders
  • 12 chief tribe leaders

HJ Adult Ranks.jpg

  • 13 spell leaders
  • 14 Supervisor
  • 15 chief ban leaders
  • 16 area guides
  • 17 Chief Area Leader
  • 18 staff leader of the Reich Youth Leadership
  • 19 Reich Youth Leader

Position of the Hitler Youth in the state and society

Marching drum, badges and printed works of the Hitler Youth (Childhood and Youth Collection, Stadtmuseum Berlin )
Youth memorial , Leipzig 1938

In relation to the party and the state, writes Klönne, the HJ presented itself relatively independently at the lower level, "but in fact the HJ was completely dependent on the leadership of the regime in its leadership and was merely an educational executive". Within the Hitler Youth itself, the full-time management cadre were again decisive.

HJ toy figure

On the basis of the HJ law of 1936, school and parental home were formally guaranteed as educational authorities alongside the HJ, albeit with extremely limited autonomy, since the entire educational right was “primarily for the 'people', i.e. the 'Führer' and the Nazi regime entitled ", was true. A leading Nazi youth rights activist summed this up as saying that the völkisch state, as the highest power, leaves “[...] the family the völkisch offspring in loyal hands.” Schirach's radio addresses to parents and Hitler Youth evenings gave rise to the regime’s claim to internal family affairs Effect underlined. The Hitler Youth, on the other hand, sought “not without success”, as Klönne says, “by promoting a certain kind of self-confidence and independence on the part of the young people” to keep the “influence of the parents low”.

In relation to school and teachers, the independence and special role of the Hitler Youth was clearly emphasized by the Nazi leadership by declaring teaching and leadership to be fundamentally different things, so that, in Schirach's words, teachers were not better suited to youth leaders from the outset “than anyone else Volksgenosse . "In the schools themselves, among other things, the function of the" school youth administrator "was created as a special Hitler Youth trust teacher. In the course of the implementation of the requirements of the school administration and due to the almost complete occupation of the headmaster's posts with Nazi educators, the higher schools played an important role in the registration of the Hitler Youth as well as in sanctions and coercive measures against unadjusted persons and those who refused to work.

A separate church youth work, which went beyond religious instruction, was rejected and opposed by the Hitler Youth as well as the work of denominational youth associations. The repressive measures were accompanied by more frequent polemics in newspapers and magazines of the Hitler Youth against "political confessionalism". In the realm of legal youth work, the churches were actually eliminated in this way.

The most concentrated form of parent-independent and largely school-independent educational influence on the HJ offspring was represented by the Kinderland Deportation Camps (KLV) set up during the Second World War KLV subordinated to the HJ leadership apparatus, the "KLV location leaders" or "main camp team leaders", who in turn were subordinate to the area leaders of the HJ.

The independent design options available to the Hitler Youth leaders on site in the period up to 1933 were increasingly lost due to the assumption of sovereign functions not only in the deportation of children, but also in the HJ patrol service , the HJ land service and the Reich professional competition. The Hitler Youth career became the essential basis for later assumption of higher functions, for example in the NSDAP, in the SS or in the Reich Labor Service . In addition, the Hitler Youth played an increasingly important role in general management of young professionals between 1938 and 1945. The assessment cards for school leavers created by the HJ became the basis for career counseling and apprenticeship placement by the employment offices, which had their own HJ clerks. The Hitler Youth also maintained close relationships with youth welfare offices and courts. According to a decree of the Ministry of Justice, criminal offenders from the ranks of the Hitler Youth had to be reported to those responsible for the Hitler Youth, so that there were parallel HJ disciplinary proceedings.

The Hitler Youth in World War II

Award of the 16-year-old Hitler Youth Willi Huebner with the Iron Cross 2nd class in March 1945
Hitler Youth in action, 1943

With the attack by the National Socialist German Reich on Poland in September 1939, the Hitler Youth was confronted with the very situation for which it had been trained ideologically and practically. 314 full-time Hitler Youth leaders who were drafted into the military fell victim to this first campaign. These and the subsequent war losses were conveyed in the Hitler Youth as manifestations of propagated heroism: “The horrors of war didn't bother us boys, they attracted us. That our fathers should be called up seemed only right and proper. And the 'heroic death' was part of it. Many of the songs that we learned in school and later in the Hitler Youth were about the honor of dying for the fatherland: the flags waved in the dawn and shone for early death, holy fatherland was in danger, might we die, Germany would not die and far from Narvik there was a cool grave. "

Youth organizations oriented towards the Hitler Youth were founded in the occupied territories, such as the Belarusian Youth Organization .

Use in the "home"

At the beginning of the Second World War, Schirach ordered that “all work should only serve the purpose of waging war”. With the arrival of all men fit for military service, the Hitler Youth also lost many management staff. The Hitler Youth leaders who moved up were often no older than their subordinates. This brought the hierarchical structure and discipline among the other associations into a crisis. The Nazi regime reacted to this on May 9, 1940 with a "Police Ordinance" "For the Protection of Young People", which increased and tightened the provisions and regulations relating to the Hitler Youth. The Hitler Youth patrol duty should also take on police duties. Under the label of “self-management”, existing facilities for securing young talent were closed.

The introduction of compulsory service hardly changed the tasks of Hitler Youth at first. In the first years of the war, they mainly replaced the workers of men drafted for military service and performed e.g. B. harvest operations, collecting campaigns, messenger and courier services, helped with the mail delivery, the Red Cross and the authorities. Boys were exempted from service obligations in foreign locations up to the age of 16, girls up to the age of 18 and retained the right to vacation.

Since 1940 the number of Allied bombing raids on German cities has increased. Now members of the Hitler Youth were increasingly entrusted with air protection tasks. Already 15-year-old Hitler Youth leaders were hired as managers at Kinderlandverschickung (KLV). Together with a teacher, they ran camps for children and adolescents in the countryside and were responsible for the non-teaching time.

Use in the end of the war

Around 20,000 young people were mobilized as volunteers for the “final victory” in “military training camps”. In 1943, attempts by the Reich Youth Leadership to model the service processes of the pupils who were required to serve as flak helpers based on the model of the Hitler Youth service failed ; the flak helpers remained formally members of the HJ, this was recognizable by the addition in the official designation " Luftwaffe helper (HJ)" and by the HJ armband, which was prescribed as part of the uniform . With the increase in daytime attacks by the Allies in the final phase of the war, the losses of flak helpers also increased, but exact figures are not known. In 1943, based on an idea by Reich Youth Leader Axmann, Schirach's successor, elite units of 16 to 18-year-old Hitler Youths were set up: for example, in July 1943 a Panzer Grenadier Division named "Hitler Youth", which was transferred to the 12th division under SS Brigadefuehrer Kurt Meyer in October 1943 . SS Panzer Division "Hitler Youth" was transferred. It consisted of poorly trained and inadequately armed young people and suffered great losses in Normandy in the summer of 1944. The few survivors surrendered to the US armed forces in May 1945.

The Volkssturm was set up in September 1944 . Sixteen-year-old Hitler Youth boys did military service here alongside men who were not members of the Wehrmacht for up to 60 years. Training and equipment were mostly inadequate. The Volkssturm took part in skirmishes, especially on the Eastern Front, and suffered heavy losses.

Members of the Hitler Youth were finally recruited for the Werwolf organization , but it was no longer very active.

Research trends

With the " coming to terms with the past " of the Nazi era, the processing of the Hitler Youth issue in post-war Germany only began after decades. Until the 1960s, there was little more than the experience reports of those affected. According to Michael H. Kater, culpable joint responsibility for Nazi crimes was only very rarely admitted in the files and records from the first post-war years . Young Nazi officers in particular rejected the re-education program with which, for example, the victorious British power wanted to restore a democratic culture among the Germans in its zone of occupation and its prisoner-of-war camps. Anyone who showed willingness to cooperate with them was vilified as “ dirtiers ”.

In the course of the student movement , the German public began to grapple more intensively with the Nazi past and its consequences from around 1965. A lack of knowledge of Nazi school students, xenophobic or anti-Semitic attitudes, the more frequent occurrence of right-wing extremist youth groups and a latent hostility towards democracy in parts of the population also contributed to this. Now the social and depth psychological conditions and authoritarian attitudes were reflected more strongly, which had made possible and accompanied the rise and rule of the NSDAP, especially the mass crimes of the Nazi era. The social sciences no longer primarily researched the actions of the Nazi and Hitler Youth leadership, but rather the everyday life of the population during the Nazi era “from below”. For Focke / Reimer it was necessary to show "how the Nazis pressed the young people into their organizations, practically abolished their free time and stuffed them with their ideology."

A second wave of experience reports and memoirs by former Hitler Youth members was now included. They conveyed a more complex picture of the situation of young people during the Nazi era and also showed forms of refusal to adapt. Hangover closes:

“The traumatic knowledge of the tyranny and intolerance generated by a totalitarian dictatorship had prevented these people from remembering as long as the shame and the catastrophe were too close to them. In old age it was easier for them to face the memories and to see again where their place had been in this reign of terror and what they had contributed to it [...]. "

The more recent research moved away from the image of the monolithic block that the Nazi leadership had designed and successfully propagated for the German youth of the time. According to Klönne, many young people at the time failed to socialize with the Nazis : youth gangs withdrew from the HJ drill, and illegal youth groups that were opposed to the opposition continued to exist. In some places, threatened penalties for refusal to serve did nothing. In the Bavarian district of Landsberg, for example, it was found in mid-1942 that there had been no Hitler Youth service for two to three years. On the other hand, the HJ according to Klönne seemed to meet widespread expectations of the time before and around 1933, especially for groups that were “underprivileged” (that is, barely covered by the youth movement), such as rural youth and most of the female youth. "Social gaps, urban-rural differences or gender-related differences" now seemed to be put aside.

The long-term effect of the HJ indoctrination on those affected can be determined individually rather than generally. Rolf Schörken points out that nationwide "courses" and "curricula" were only introduced in 1936 and could only be implemented to a limited extent from 1939 due to the war. In many cases it was up to the individual Hitler Youth leader to determine the extent of the ideological instruction. The Adolf Hitler Schools built from 1937 and subordinated to the Hitler Youth had no more than 2027 students in 1943 and stagnated as the war progressed due to a lack of funds.

See also


until 1933
  • Peter D. Stachura : Nazi Youth in the Weimar Republic. Clio Books, Santa Barbara (California / USA) 1975 (= Studies in comparative politics, 5), ISBN 0-87436-198-2 , pp. 20-40 (English).
  • Hannsjoachim W. Koch : History of the Hitler Youth. Their origins and their development 1922–1945. 2nd edition, Schulz-Verlag, Percha am Starnberger See u. a. 1979, ISBN 3-7962-0070-2 (German translation; English original title: The Hitler Youth, Origins and Development 1922-45 . Macdonald and Jane's, London 1975, ISBN 0-356-04697-4 ).
  • Werner Klose : Generation in lockstep. The Hitler Youth. A documentary report. New edition updated and extended by an epilogue in the appendix, Stalling, München u. a. 1982, ISBN 3-7979-1365-6 .
  • Karl-Heinz Huber: Youth under the swastika. Unabridged edition, Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main a. a. 1986, ISBN 3-550-07959-1 .
  • Christoph Schubert-Weller: Hitler Youth. From the "Jungsturm Adolf Hitler" to the state youth of the Third Reich. Juventa-Verlag, materials for historical youth research, Weinheim u. a. 1993, ISBN 3-7799-1123-X .
  • Arno Klönne : Youth in the Third Reich. The Hitler Youth and their opponents. 3rd, expanded and improved edition, Papyrossa Verlagsgesellschaft, Cologne 2008, ISBN 3-89438-261-9 .
  • Michael Buddrus : Total education for total war. Hitler Youth and National Socialist Youth Policy. 2 parts, Saur-Verlag, Munich 2003 (= texts and materials on contemporary history, 13), ISBN 3-598-11615-2 .
  • Michael H. Kater: Hitler Youth. Licensed edition, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2005, ISBN 3-534-17673-1 (English original title: Hitler youth ; review )
  • Michael H. Kater: Bourgeois Youth and Hitler Youth in Germany from 1926 to 1939 . In: Archive for Social History 1977, pp. 127–174 ( full text (pdf) )
  • Heinz Schreckenberg : Upbringing, living environment and war effort of the German youth under Hitler. Notes on the literature. Lit Verlag, Münster 2001, ISBN 3-8258-4433-1 . ( limited preview in Google Book search)
  • Virginie Schneider: National Socialism in the Autobiography: Melita Maschmann: Conclusion. No attempt at justification. Mein Weg in der Hitlerjugend, Strasbourg, 1993, OCLC 493606424 (Dissertation (Mém. Maitr.) Université de Strasbourg 2, Etudes allemandes, 1993, 114 pages)
  • Matthias von Hellfeld , Arno Klönne: The deceived generation. Youth in fascism. Pahl-Rugenstein, Cologne 1985, ISBN 3-7609-0954-X .
  • Kathrin Kollmeier: Order and exclusion. The disciplinary policy of the Hitler Youth , Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2007, ISBN 978-3-525-35158-1 .
Comparative studies

Web links

Commons : Hitler Youth  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Hitler Youth  - explanations of meanings, origin of words, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. cf. Law on the Hitler Youth of December 1, 1936 (RGBl. I p. 993)
  2. § 1 Paragraph 2 No. 2 of the Youth Service Ordinance of March 25, 1939 (RGBl. I p. 710)
  3. Hans-Helmut Dietze: The legal form of the Hitler Youth , Berlin 1939, p. 88; quoted from Arno Klönne: Youth in the Third Reich , licensed edition, Munich 1995, p. 19.
  4. Norbert Götz. Unequal siblings: the construction of the National Socialist Volksgemeinschaft and the Swedish Volksheim . Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2001. pp. 288–323
  5. Martin Broszat, Norbert Frei (Ed.): The Third Reich at a Glance. Chronicle - Events - Connections , Munich 1992, ISBN 3-492-11091-6 , p. 253.
  6. ^ Motto of the young people according to Michael H. Kater: Hitler-Jugend , Darmstadt 2005, p. 30.
  7. Christoph Schubert-Weller: Hitler Youth. From “Jungsturm Adolf Hitler” to the state youth of the Third Reich , Juventa, Munich 1993, p. 9 ff.
  8. ^ Arno Klönne: Youth in the Third Reich. The Hitler Youth and their opponents. PapyRossa Verlag, Cologne 2008, p. 18.
  9. a b c Article Hitler Youth , in: Christian Zentner , Friedemann Bedürftig (Ed.): Large Lexicon of the Third Reich , Südwest Verlag, Munich 1985, ISBN 3-517-00834-6 , p. 264 f.
  10. Christoph Schubert-Weller: Hitler Youth. From the "Jungsturm Adolf Hitler" to the state youth of the Third Reich . Juventa-Verlag, Weinheim 1993, p. 64.
  11. Juliane Wetzel: Hitler Youth Quex . In: Wolfgang Benz , Hermann Graml and Hermann Weiß (eds.): Encyclopedia of National Socialism . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1997, p. 514.
  12. Christoph Schubert-Weller: Hitler Youth. From the "Jungsturm Adolf Hitler" to the state youth of the Third Reich. Part 4, Weinheim u. a. 1993.
  13. ^ Hilde Kammer, Elisabeth Bartsch (Ed.): Jugendlexikon Nationalozialismus , article Hitlerjugend , Rowohlt, Reinbek 1982, ISBN 3-499-16288-1 , p. 91.
  14. Quoted from: Michael Grüttner : Brandstifter und Biedermänner. Germany 1933–1939 , Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2015, p. 288 f.
  15. Rolf Schörken 1998, pp. 203 ff.
  16. ^ Wilhelm Heussler: Structure and tasks of the NS youth movement , Würzburg 1940, p. 25 f .; quoted from Arno Klönne: Youth in the Third Reich , licensed edition, Munich 1995, p. 78.
  17. ^ Arno Klönne: Youth in the Third Reich , 1995, p. 78.
  18. ^ Adolf Hitler: Mein Kampf , 85. – 94. Edition, Munich 1934, p. 454.
  19. quoted from Harald Focke / Uwe Reimer: Everyday life under the Hakenkreuz , Reinbek 1979, p. 115.
  20. Kater 2005, p. 29.
  21. Article Hitler Youth , in: Wolfgang Benz, Hermann Graml u. a. (Ed.): Encyclopedia of National Socialism , Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-608-91805-1 , p. 513.
  22. As an example of sanctions against refusers in secondary schools: MITTEILUNGEN DER KARL-MAY-GESELLSCHAFT , No. 188, June 2016, p. 1: Interview with Claus Roxin (former chairman, born in 1931) Quote: "At least I have myself. .. temporarily withdrawn from the young people (until I was threatened with a failure to transfer). "
  23. Kathrin Kollmeier: Order and Exclusion. The disciplinary policy of the Hitler Youth. Göttingen 2007, ISBN 978-3-525-35158-1 , p. 203.
  24. Kathrin Kollmeier: Order and Exclusion. The disciplinary policy of the Hitler Youth. Göttingen 2007, ISBN 978-3-525-35158-1 , pp. 199-200.
  25. Kathrin Kollmeier: Order and Exclusion. The disciplinary policy of the Hitler Youth. Göttingen 2007, ISBN 978-3-525-35158-1 , p. 199.
  26. ^ Karin Stoverock: Music in the Hitler Youth. Organization, development, contexts. Uelvesbüll 2013, vol. 2.
  27. ^ Arno Klönne: Youth in the Third Reich. The Hitler Youth and their opponents. PapyRossa Verlag, Cologne 2008, p. 45.
  28. Kater 2005, p. 50.
  29. Quoted from Arno Klönne: Youth in the Third Reich. The Hitler Youth and their opponents. PapyRossa Verlag, Cologne 2008, p. 144 f.
  30. Arnd Krüger : "There was basically no sports lesson that, apart from gestures, would have been different from before and after." Reality and reception of National Socialist sport, in: MV SCHÖNEBECK (Hrsg.): From dealing with the subject of music education with its history. Essen: Blaue Eule 2001, pp. 231 - 253. http://www.pedocs.de/volltexte/2014/9578/pdf/AMPF_2001_Band_22.pdf
  31. Christoph Schubert-Weller: Hitler Youth. From the "Jungsturm Adolf Hitler" to the state youth of the Third Reich. Part 4.3, Weinheim u. a. 1993.
  32. Kater 2005, p. 56.
  33. ^ Arno Klönne: Youth in the Third Reich , Diederichs, Cologne 1982, p. 42 ff. (Status 1939) as well as organization book of the NSDAP, ed. Reichsorganisationsleiter der NSDAP, Munich 1936 and 5th edition 1938, p. 440 f.
  34. Christoph Schubert-Weller: Hitler Youth. From the "Jungsturm Adolf Hitler" to the state youth of the Third Reich. Part 4.2, Weinheim u. a. 1993.
  35. Werner Klose: Generation in step. A documentary report. Stalling, Oldenburg 1964. p. 271.
  36. Karin Stoverock: Music in the Hitler Youth. Organization, development, contexts. Uelvesbüll 2013, pp. 94-99.
  37. Christoph Schubert-Weller: Hitler Youth. From the "Jungsturm Adolf Hitler" to the state youth of the Third Reich. Part 4.3, Weinheim u. a. 1993.
  38. ^ Klönne: Youth in the Third Reich , licensed edition, Munich 1995, p. 19.
  39. ^ Arno Klönne: Youth in the Third Reich. The Hitler Youth and their opponents. PapyRossa Verlag, Cologne 2008, p. 52 f.
  40. Hans-Helmut Dietze: Die Rechtsgestalt der Hitler-Jugend , Berlin 1939, p. 199; in: Arno Klönne: Youth in the Third Reich. The Hitler Youth and their opponents. PapyRossa Verlag, Cologne 2008, p. 53.
  41. ^ Arno Klönne: Youth in the Third Reich. The Hitler Youth and their opponents. PapyRossa Verlag, Cologne 2008, p. 55.
  42. Baldur von Schirach: The Hitler Youth, Idea and Shape , Leipzig 1934, p. 169 f .; quoted n. Arno Klönne: Youth in the Third Reich. The Hitler Youth and their opponents. PapyRossa Verlag, Cologne 2008, p. 53 f.
  43. Klönne: Youth in the Third Reich , licensed edition, Munich 1995, p. 53 f.
  44. ^ Klönne: Youth in the Third Reich , licensed edition, Munich 1995, p. 50.
  45. ^ Klönne: Youth in the Third Reich , licensed edition, Munich 1995, p. 54 f.
  46. ^ Klönne: Youth in the Third Reich , licensed edition, Munich 1995, p. 129.
  47. ^ Klönne: Youth in the Third Reich , licensed edition, Munich 1995, p. 49.
  48. Kater 2005, p. 153.
  49. ^ Karl-Heinz Janßen, quoted from Arno Klönne: Youth in the Third Reich , licensed edition, Munich 1995, p. 137.
  50. Christoph Schubert-Weller: Hitler Youth. From the "Jungsturm Adolf Hitler" to the state youth of the Third Reich. Part 5, Weinheim u. a. 1993.
  51. ^ Hermann Weiss : Air Force Helper. In: the same, Wolfgang Benz and Hermann Graml (eds.): Encyclopedia of National Socialism . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1997, p. 575 f.
  52. Kurt Schilde : Hitler Youth (HJ) . In: Wolfgang Benz, Hermann Graml and Hermann Weiß (eds.): Encyclopedia of National Socialism . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1997, p. 514.
  53. Volker Riess: Hitler Youth (HJ). In: Wolfgang Benz, Hermann Graml and Hermann Weiß (eds.): Encyclopedia of National Socialism . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1997, p. 788.
  54. Kurt Haß (Ed.): Youth under fate - life reports of young Germans , Hamburg 1950.
  55. Kater 2005, p. 213 f., Refers u. a. on Helmut Schmidt: Childhood and Youth under Hitler , Berlin 1992 2 , p. 203.
  56. ^ Arno Klönne: Youth in the Third Reich , licensed edition, Munich 1995, p. 9.
  57. Harald Focke, Uwe Reimer: Everyday life under the Hakenkreuz , Reinbek 1979, p. 9.
  58. Kater 2005, p. 226.
  59. Arno Klönne: Youth in the Third Reich , 2008, p. 142.
  60. Kater 2005, p. 28.
  61. Arno Klönne: Youth in the Third Reich , 2008, p. 285 f.
  62. ^ Rolf Schörken: Youth , in: Hermann Graml, Wolfgang Benz u. a. (Ed.): Encyclopedia of National Socialism , 1998, pp. 203 ff.
  63. Kater 2005, p. 46.