In the view of Hitler, the nations adults had been exposed to too many dangerous ideas over the years and had become accustomed to thinking and acting independently. German children.
The Hitler Youth: Origins and Development -
I begin with the young, Hitler said in a private talk with Hermann Rauschning. We older ones are used up. We are rotten to the marrow. We are cowardly and sentimental. We are bearing the burden of a humiliating past, and have in our blood the dull recollection of serfdom and servility. But my magnicent youngsters! Are there any ner ones in the world? Look at these young men and boys!
What material! With them, I can make a new world. This is the heroic stage of youth. Out of it will come the creative man, the mangod. The Fhrer went on: When an opponent says to me, I will not come over to your side, I reply calmly, Your child belongs to us already What are you? You will pass on.
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Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing but this new community. Before , Germanys educational system, from kindergarten to the university, had been admired throughout the world for its comprehensiveness. After the Nazi takeover, the system underwent an immediate and chilling change. During the rst few months of Hitlers rule, Jewish and politically unreliable teachers were dismissed, while female teachers were conned to domestic tasks. Not content with having persuasive control of the school system, the Nazis intruded even further into the lives of students, teachers and parents through the Hitler Jugend movement.
A law conrmed the existence of an institution which had been in place since the creation of the Nazi Party and the establishment of the Third Reich. The Hitler Jugend was Hitlers tool to ensure that the younger generations would be totally loyal to the Nazi regime and willing to ght in the upcoming war. Hitler believed that the youth were the only ones that he could trust without reservation. The Hitler Jugend was an important vehicle. The organizations boys were paramilitarily organized, deeply and fanatically indoctrinated in Nazi racist ideology.
The Hitler Youthand its female counterpart, the Bund deutscher Mdel League of German Girls BdM carried widespread appeal, initially appearing as a challenge to more conservative forms of authority and giving youth a sense of collective power. But gradually the organization was used to enforce the Nazi ideology and it became merely a nursery for military mobilization. Appealing to passion more than to reason, the Nazi system could easily exploit. A whole generation of children were fooled by the state.
The constant psychological indoctrination and the hard physical training to which German youth were submitted had declared aims: to brainwash the nations youth to think German and act German, and to ll the ranks of the army, the SS and the regimented labor force. They will never be free, Hitler said, for the rest of their lives. A note on the orthography maintained in this book: All German words and names are given in their exact German spelling with the sole exception that -- has been rendered -ss-. A convenient acronym, Nazi, was formed from how the word national is pronounced in German na-tsi-o-nal.
In July , Anton Drexler was kicked upstairs as honorary president and Hitler took command of the party. Drexler became a background gure in the Nazi Party and died, forgotten, in Munich in Hitlers anticapitalist, antiSemitic, extreme nationalist ideology was expressed in a point program drawn up in February and reafrmed after The main points were these: the rejection of the Versailles Treaty of , and formation of a strong national army the union of all Germans in a greater Germany the demand for additional territories for food production and settlement of excess German population Lebensraum living space the determination of citizenship by race no Jew was allowed to be a German citizen; the crude Nazi race theory desperately sought scapegoats for postWorld War I Germanys political, social and economic crisis the demand that all citizens work for the general good the conscation of all income not earned by work an anticapitalist clause never applied the nationalization of all large business.
Hitler Youth, 1922-1945 : an illustrated history
The Nazi program was constantly modied according to circumstances, and never offered the voter well-dened politics and economics. Vagueness was a deliberate basis of Hitlers ideology. Hitler achieved unprecedented personal power by systematically promising anything to anyone, while making secret deals with anyone who could be of some use to him, no matter how much difference there was between secret promises and public ofcial oratory. What the Nazis proposed and promised was not particularly new. The ideology was simple, even simplistic, and often contradictory, with the emphasis on antiSemitism, ultra-nationalism, the concept of Aryan racial supremacy, contempt for liberal democracy, and the principle of unique leadership.
Greatly inuenced by Mussolinis Fascism, the Nazi program was designed to appeal to everyone with a grievance of some kind. More than an intellectually constructed doctrine, it was a exible movement aiming at aggressive action, a kind of religion leaning on blind faith, on irrationality, and on exploitation of subconscious fears and basic instincts. The Nazi Party did not appeal to reason but to passion, and this was evident in its regalia and uniforms.
Hitler was perfectly aware of the impact of regalia, and one is struck by the extraordinary and elaborate minutiae of Nazi uniforms, emblems, insignia, armbands, daggers, swords, ags, banners and the like. Hitler had a good sense for symbols and knew something of colors, having in his early days of scratching for a living in Vienna painted aquarelles and posters for shopkeepers.
Hitler took such matters as the design of regalia and uniforms very seriously for he believed that the success of his nascent movement depended to a considerable extent on the use of strong symbols immediately comprehensible.
Arndt, H. Hegel, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Hans F. In addition, historical falsications were created and scientic facts were forged by Nazi philosophers notably Walther Darr and Alfred Rosenberg , and used to excuse brutality, ruthlessness, megalomania, and a complete disregard for democracy and individual rights, the only goal being the absolute power of Hitler toward the absolute hegemony of Germany.
A vital component of Nazism was the Fhrer principle, the cult of the leader whose ideas were crucial in dening the nature of Nazi eclecticism. Indeed, from the start, the ambitious Hitler thought big and wanted to turn the tiny local Bavarian group into a national movement.
Encouraged by the success of Mussolinis march on Rome in , Hitler made a bid for power by force. On November 9, , Hitler and a group of followers tried to seize power in Munich with the intention of sparking the takeover throughout Bavaria and Germany. The ill-prepared coup, known as Marsch auf die Feldherrnhalle or the Munich Beer Hall putsch, was bloodily repressed by the Munich police.
Sixteen Nazi members were killed, the party was oulawed, and Hitler was arrested, tried for conspiracy, and sentenced to ve years prison. Apparently his political career was broken and nished. While the leader was in prison, the Nazi Party fell into disarray. Although the Hitler Jugend hereinafter not italicized would become the only youth organization of Germany shortly after the NSDAP came to power in , it was certainly not the rst attempt to formally organize German youth along political, social, or religious lines.
It was also not the only youth organization in existence at the time of its formation. German youth had been a major focus of numerous groups during the early s including both leftand right-wing political parties, as well as groups generally benign in nature. German youth had always been highly organized, but the phenomenon of youth organizations in the beginning of the twentieth century was not limited to Germanythey were found in nearly all parts of the world.
The Boy Scout movement, still active today, was founded in the United States in , and ofcally chartered by Congress in In fascist Italy, paramilitary Ballilas uniformed groups of children aged 8 to 12 were organized by Mussolini and very popular in the s. In communist Soviet Union from to , children aged were indoctrinated in the so-called Komsomol or Communist Union of Youth. In the years after and during the time of the Weimar Republic, the number of youth groups in Germany exploded.
Some were political groups but many others were not political at all. To generalize about these groups is not possible, for they included a wide scale of attitudes and philosophies; some were comparatively large and open to all, others small and restricted to an elite membership. Many groups emerged spontaneously, not as the result of intellectual reection.
Some of them were basically apolitical forms of opposition to a society that had little to offer the young generation, a protest against the lack of vitality, warmth, emotions, and ideals. Some of these groups wanted to develop sincerity, decency, and open-mindedness, to free members from petty egoism and careerism, to oppose to articial conventions, snobbery, and affectation, by hiking together, participating in common activities, and forming lasting friendships.
Other groups were overtly patriotic, with the focus on nationalism, tradition, and occasionally chauvinism and racism. Others were against blind industrialization, materialist consumerism, and soulless society, and stressed the need to return to nature, to a simpler and healthier life. Some groups were individualistic, composed of young people who had no other motive than to live their own lives, and who had no clear aims, and no program; but other groups had dened goals, hierarchy, written manifestos and conventions, ofcial ideology, political aims, and relations with political parties.
Some had books and periodicals commenting on and announcing ideals and activities. Germany had traditionally been a country marked by a quest for the unconditional and absolute, the unwillingness to accept reality, to compromise and live with imperfection, which has been at the root of most of its highest achievements and the cause of many of its greatest disasters. Against this romantic background youth organizations developed, which were always the move-. Accurate gures do not exist, but it seemed likely that the German Bnde, from till , never exceeded 60, It was on the whole bourgeois in its social composition.
Members of the youth movements were as a rule between 12 and 19 years of age. The history of youth movements from the end of the nineteenth and the begining of the twentieth centuries until is very complex, and even the limited scope of those that existed exclusively in Germany is nearly impossible to fully document. But as complex as the subject may be, no study would be complete without a mention of some of them, as they were direct or indirect forerunners to the Hitler Youth.
Wandervogel The Wandervogel roughly, bird of passage or migratory bird was a small movement created by a certain Karl Fischer in , in Steglitz, a suburb of Berlin. Its focus was youth-led nature hikes and excursions.
The concept of youth-oriented nature hikes was by no means unique, but what was new was that they were now being led by other youth and not adults. The Wandervogel was in its truest form a movement against the values of the time the Wilhelmine period and an attempt to reevaluate the social situation with the idea of creating a better human condition. This was a noble and lofty goal indeed, but one in direct response to the conditions experienced by many lower- and middle-class youth.
The Wandervogel movement was at rst a romantic and rather innocent protest against a society in which young people were superuous. It was also a very limited and completely unofcial affair. It consisted of teenagers meeting to discuss ways to break free of the seemingly repressive system of values dominant in Germany at the time. It is often said that the countercultural hippie movement of the s nds its historical.
Anyway, the migratory birds were annoyed by the fact that many Germans had emigrated from the countryside to the big cities, and they decided to reverse the process.
They organized treks to explore the vast German countryside in attempts to both free themselves of parental control and to gain a better sense of values through the experience of friendship, hardship and raw nature. They were disgusted with the materialism andprotesting against the burgeoning industrial lifethey communed with nature in mountains and the woods.