Hitler Youth
Overview
 
For the SS division with the nickname Hitlerjugend see; 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend
12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend
The 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend was a German Waffen SS armoured division during World War II. The Hitlerjugend was unique because the majority of its junior enlisted men were drawn from members of the Hitler Youth, while the senior NCOs and officers were generally veterans of the Eastern...



The Hitler Youth (German: , abbreviated HJ) was a paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 organization
Organization
An organization is a social group which distributes tasks for a collective goal. The word itself is derived from the Greek word organon, itself derived from the better-known word ergon - as we know `organ` - and it means a compartment for a particular job.There are a variety of legal types of...

 of the Nazi Party. It existed from 1922 to 1945. The HJ was the second oldest paramilitary Nazi group, founded one year after its adult counterpart, the Sturmabteilung
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 (the SA). It was made up of the Hitlerjugend proper, for male youth ages 14–18; the younger boys' section Deutsches Jungvolk for ages 10–14; and the girls' section Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM, the League of German Girls
League of German Girls
The League of German Girls or League of German Maidens , was the girl's wing of the overall Nazi party youth movement, the Hitler Youth. It was the only female youth organization in Nazi Germany....

).
The first NSDAP-related organization of German youth was the Jugendbund
Jugendbund
The Jugendbund der NSDAP was a group similar to the Hitler Youth, and was indeed its predecessor. It was effectively the youth section of the Sturmabteilung and it existed between 1922 and 1923 when the NSDAP was banned following the failed Munich Putsch...

 der NSDAP.
Encyclopedia
For the SS division with the nickname Hitlerjugend see; 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend
12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend
The 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend was a German Waffen SS armoured division during World War II. The Hitlerjugend was unique because the majority of its junior enlisted men were drawn from members of the Hitler Youth, while the senior NCOs and officers were generally veterans of the Eastern...



The Hitler Youth (German: , abbreviated HJ) was a paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 organization
Organization
An organization is a social group which distributes tasks for a collective goal. The word itself is derived from the Greek word organon, itself derived from the better-known word ergon - as we know `organ` - and it means a compartment for a particular job.There are a variety of legal types of...

 of the Nazi Party. It existed from 1922 to 1945. The HJ was the second oldest paramilitary Nazi group, founded one year after its adult counterpart, the Sturmabteilung
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 (the SA). It was made up of the Hitlerjugend proper, for male youth ages 14–18; the younger boys' section Deutsches Jungvolk for ages 10–14; and the girls' section Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM, the League of German Girls
League of German Girls
The League of German Girls or League of German Maidens , was the girl's wing of the overall Nazi party youth movement, the Hitler Youth. It was the only female youth organization in Nazi Germany....

).

Origins

The first NSDAP-related organization of German youth was the Jugendbund
Jugendbund
The Jugendbund der NSDAP was a group similar to the Hitler Youth, and was indeed its predecessor. It was effectively the youth section of the Sturmabteilung and it existed between 1922 and 1923 when the NSDAP was banned following the failed Munich Putsch...

 der NSDAP. Its establishment by the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP, the German Nazi Party, was announced on 8 March 1922 in the Völkischer Beobachter
Völkischer Beobachter
The Völkischer Beobachter was the newspaper of the National Socialist German Workers' Party from 1920. It first appeared weekly, then daily from February 8, 1923...

, and its inaugural meeting was held on 13 May the same year. In April 1924 the Jugendbund der NSDAP was renamed Grossdeutsche Jugendbewegung (Greater German Youth Movement).

Another Youth group was established in 1922 as the . Based in Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

, Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

, it served to train and recruit future members of the Sturmabteilung
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 (or "Storm Regiment"), the adult paramilitary wing of the NSDAP.

Following the abortive Beer Hall Putsch
Beer Hall Putsch
The Beer Hall Putsch was a failed attempt at revolution that occurred between the evening of 8 November and the early afternoon of 9 November 1923, when Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler, Generalquartiermeister Erich Ludendorff, and other heads of the Kampfbund unsuccessfully tried to seize power...

 (in 1923), the Nazi youth groups were ostensibly disbanded but many elements simply went underground, operating clandestinely in small units under assumed names. Finally, on 4 July 1926, the Grossdeutsche Jugendbewegung was officially renamed Hitler Jugend Bund der deutschen Arbeiterjugend, (Hitler Youth League of German Worker Youth). This event took place a year after the Nazi Party itself had been reorganized. The architect of the re-organisation was Kurt Gruber
Kurt Gruber
Kurt Gruber was a Nazi politician and from 1926 to 1931 the first chairman of the Hitler Youth .-Career:...

, a law student and admirer of Hitler from Plauen, Saxony.

After a short power struggle with a rival organization - Gerhard Roßbach
Gerhard Roßbach
Gerhard Roßbach was a German Freikorps leader and organizer of nationalist groups after World War I....

's Schilljugend - Gruber prevailed and his Greater German Youth Movement became the Nazi Party's official youth organization. In July 1926, it was renamed Hitler-Jugend, Bund deutscher Arbeiterjugend (Hitler Youth, League of German Worker Youth) and, for the first time, officially became an integral part of the Sturmabteilung
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

.

By 1930, the Hitler-Jugend had enlisted over 25,000 boys aged 14 and upwards. It also set up a junior branch, the Deutsches Jungvolk
Deutsches Jungvolk
thumb|250px|DJ TroopThe Deutsches Jungvolk was the subdivision of the Hitler Youth for boys aged 10 to 14. It reinforced the National Socialist view of Aryan ideals and transmitted the Nazi idea of the Volksgemeinschaft...

, for boys aged 10 to 14. Girls from 10 to 18 were given their own parallel organisation, the Bund Deutscher Mädel
League of German Girls
The League of German Girls or League of German Maidens , was the girl's wing of the overall Nazi party youth movement, the Hitler Youth. It was the only female youth organization in Nazi Germany....

 (BDM), League of German Girls.

In April 1932, the Hitler Youth was banned by Chancellor Heinrich Brüning
Heinrich Brüning
Heinrich Brüning was Chancellor of Germany from 1930 to 1932, during the Weimar Republic. He was the longest serving Chancellor of the Weimar Republic, and remains a controversial figure in German politics....

 in an attempt to stop widespread political violence. But by June the ban was lifted by his successor, Franz von Papen
Franz von Papen
Lieutenant-Colonel Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen zu Köningen was a German nobleman, Roman Catholic monarchist politician, General Staff officer, and diplomat, who served as Chancellor of Germany in 1932 and as Vice-Chancellor under Adolf Hitler in 1933–1934...

 as a way of appeasing Hitler whose political star was ascending rapidly.

A further significant expansion drive started in 1933, when Baldur von Schirach
Baldur von Schirach
Baldur Benedikt von Schirach was a Nazi youth leader later convicted of being a war criminal. Schirach was the head of the Hitler-Jugend and Gauleiter and Reichsstatthalter of Vienna....

 became the first Reichsjugendführer
Reichsjugendführer
Reichsjugendführer was the highest paramilitary rank of the Hitler Youth. It was held first by Baldur von Schirach and later Artur Axmann. Originally, there was no insignia for the rank, and von Schirach can be seen in documentary evidence as wearing a Nazi Party brown jacket with Hitler Youth...

 (Reich Youth Leader), pouring much time and large amounts of money into the project.

Doctrine

The HJ were viewed as future "Aryan
Aryan race
The Aryan race is a concept historically influential in Western culture in the period of the late 19th century and early 20th century. It derives from the idea that the original speakers of the Indo-European languages and their descendants up to the present day constitute a distinctive race or...

 supermen" and were indoctrinated in anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism
Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

. One aim was to instill the motivation that would enable HJ members, as soldiers, to fight faithfully for the Third Reich. The HJ put more emphasis on physical
Body
With regard to living things, a body is the physical body of an individual. "Body" often is used in connection with appearance, health issues and death...

 and military training than on academic study. The Nationalsozialistischer Reichsbund für Leibesübungen
Nationalsozialistischer Reichsbund für Leibesübungen
The Nationalsozialistischer Reichsbund für Leibesübungen , more rarely "NSRBL", , known as Deutscher Reichsbund für Leibesübungen until 1938, was the umbrella organization for sports during the Third Reich.The NSRL was led by the Reichssportführer, who after 1934 was...

 (NSRBL), the umbrella organization
Umbrella organization
An umbrella organization is an association of institutions, who work together formally to coordinate activities or pool resources. In business, political, or other environments, one group, the umbrella organization, provides resources and often an identity to the smaller organizations...

 promoting and coordinating sport activities in Germany during the Nazi period, had the responsibility of overseeing the physical fitness development programs provided to the German youth.

After the boy scout movement
Scouting
Scouting, also known as the Scout Movement, is a worldwide youth movement with the stated aim of supporting young people in their physical, mental and spiritual development, that they may play constructive roles in society....

 was banned through German-controlled countries, the HJ appropriated many of its activities, though changed in content and intention. For example, many HJ activities closely resembled military training, with weapons training, assault course circuits and basic tactics. Some cruelty
Cruelty
Cruelty can be described as indifference to suffering, and even positive pleasure in inflicting it. If this is supported by a legal or social framework, then receives the name of perversion. Sadism can also be related to this form of action or concept....

 by the older boys toward the younger ones was tolerated and even encouraged, since it was believed this would weed out the unfit and harden the rest.

The HJ wore uniforms very like those of the SA
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

, with similar ranks and insignia
Ranks and insignia of the Sturmabteilung
The uniforms and insignia of the Sturmabteilung were Nazi party paramilitary ranks and uniforms used by SA stormtroopers from 1921 until the fall of Nazi Germany in 1945. The titles and phrases used by the SA were the basis for paramilitary titles used by several other Nazi paramilitary groups,...

.

Organization

The HJ was organized into corps under adult leaders, and the general membership comprised boys aged fourteen to eighteen. The HJ was also seen as an important stepping stone to future membership of the elite Schutzstaffel
Schutzstaffel
The Schutzstaffel |Sig runes]]) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi ideology, the SS under Heinrich Himmler's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II...

 (the SS). Members of the HJ were particularly proud to be bestowed with the single Sig Rune (victory symbol) by the SS. The SS utilized two Sig Runes as their mark, and this gesture served to symbolically link the two groups.

The HJ was organized into local cells on a community level. Such cells had weekly meetings at which various Nazi doctrine
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

s were taught by adult HJ leaders. Regional leaders typically organized rallies and field exercises in which several dozen Hitler Youth cells would participate. The largest HJ gathering usually took place annually, at Nuremberg
Nuremberg
Nuremberg[p] is a city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about north of Munich and is Franconia's largest city. The population is 505,664...

, where members from all over Germany would converge for the annual Nazi Party rally.

The HJ maintained training academies comparable to preparatory school
Preparatory school (UK)
In English language usage in the former British Empire, the present-day Commonwealth, a preparatory school is an independent school preparing children up to the age of eleven or thirteen for entry into fee-paying, secondary independent schools, some of which are known as public schools...

s. They were designed to nurture future Nazi Party leaders, and only the most radical and devoted HJ members could expect to attend.

The HJ also maintained several corps designed to develop future officers for the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

. The corps offered specialist pre-training for each of the specific arms for which the HJ member was ultimately destined. The Marine Hitler Youth, for example, was the largest such corps and served as a water rescue auxiliary to the Kriegsmarine
Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

 .

Another branch of the HJ was the Deutsche Arbeiter Jugend - HJ (German Worker Youth - HY). This organization within the Hitler Youth was a training ground for future labor leaders and technicians. Its symbol was a rising sun with a swastika.

The Hitler Youth regularly issued the Wille und Macht (Will and Power) monthly magazine. This publication was also its official organ and its editor was Baldur von Schirach.
Other publications included Die Kameradshaft (Comradeship), which had a girl's version for the BDM called Mädelschaft, and a yearbook called Jungen eure Welt (Youth your World).

Flags of the HJ and its branches

The basic unit of the Hitler Youth was the Bann (unit of the whole district, consisting of 2,400 to 3,600 members, with 4 Stamm/Stämmen each of 600 members or more), the equivalent of a military regiment. Of these Banne, there were more than 300 spread throughout Germany, each of a strength of about 6,000 youths. Each unit carried a flag of almost identical design, but the individual Bann was identified by its number, displayed in black on a yellow scroll above the eagle's head. The flags measured 200 cm long by 145 cm high. The displayed eagle in the center was adopted from the former Imperial State of Prussia. In its talons it grasped a white coloured sword and a black hammer. These symbols were used on the first official flags presented to the HJ at a national rally of the NSDAP in August 1929 in Nürnberg. The sword was said to represent nationalism, whereas the hammer was a symbol of socialism. The poles used with these flags were of bamboo topped by a white metal ball and spear point finial.
The flags carried by the HJ Gefolgschaft (Escort), the equivalent of a company with a strength of 150 youths, displayed the emblem used on the HJ armband: a tribar of red over white over red, in the centre of which was a square of white standing on its point containing a black swastika. The Gefolgschafts flag measured 180 cm long by 120 cm high with the three horizontal bars each 40 cm deep. In order to distinguish both the individual Gefolgschaft and the branch of HJ service to which the unit belonged, each flag displayed a small coloured identification panel in the upper left corner. The patch was in a specific colour according to the HJ branch. For example, there was a light-blue patch, a white Unit number, and a white piping reserved for the Flieger-HJ, or Flying-HJ. The flagpoles were of polished black wood and had a white metal bayonet finial.

The Deutsches Jungvolk (DJ) was the junior branch of the HJ, for boys aged 10 to 14. DJ Jungbann flags generally followed the same style as those of the HJ. The differences were: the DJ flag had an all-black field; the DJ-eagle was the negative of the HJ-eagle (white with a black swastika); the scroll above the eagle's head was in white with the unit number in black; and the sword, hammer, beak, talons, and left leg of the eagle were in silver-grey colour. The flags eventually measured 165 cm long by 120 cm high. The flagpoles were of black polished wood topped with a white-metal spearhead-shaped finial. It displayed on both sides an eagle bearing on its breast the HJ diamond.

In contrast, the DJ Fähnlein flag, that of the name of the unit, equivalent to a troop or company, was of a very simple design. It displayed a single runic S in white on an all-black field. The Fähnlein number appeared on a white patch sewn to the cloth in the top left-hand corner. It was piped in silver and had black unit numbers. The size was 160 cm long by 120 cm high. The flagpoles were of polished black wood with a white metal unsheathed bayonet blade. A "Fähnlein" however, was not so much the flag, but the name of the DJ unit itself, a term which had been taken over from ancient Landsknecht
Landsknecht
Landsknechte were European, predominantly German mercenary pikemen and supporting foot soldiers from the late 15th to the late 16th century, and achieved the reputation for being the universal mercenary of Early modern Europe.-Etymology:The term is from German, Land "land, country" + Knecht...

 denominations.

Membership

The HJ was originally Munich-based only. In 1923, the organization had a little over 1,000 members. In 1925, when the Nazi Party had been refounded, the membership grew to over 5,000. Five years later, national HJ membership stood at 25,000. By the end of 1932 (a few weeks before the Nazis came to power) it was at 107,956. At the end of 1933, the HJ had 2,300,000 members. Much of these increases came from the more or less forcible merger of other youth organizations with the HJ. (The sizable Evangelische Jugend, a Lutheran youth organisation of 600,000 members, was integrated on 18 February 1934).

As an example, in the class of Hans J. Massaquoi, 100% of the Aryan pupils in his class became Pimpf. However many of his classmates joined because of their parents or teachers or to be like everybody else.
After several months many of the children became inactive and almost all left after one or two years.

By December 1936, HJ membership stood at just over five million. That same month, HJ membership became mandatory for Aryan
Aryan
Aryan is an English language loanword derived from Sanskrit ārya and denoting variously*In scholarly usage:**Indo-Iranian languages *in dated usage:**the Indo-European languages more generally and their speakers...

s, under the Gesetz über die Hitlerjugend law. This legal obligation was re-affirmed in 1939 with the Jugenddienstpflicht and HJ membership was required even when it was opposed by the member's parents.
Massaquoi claims, though, that the war did not allow the law to go very far.
From then on, most of Germany's teenagers belonged to the HJ. By 1940, it had eight million members. Later war figures are difficult to calculate, since massive conscription efforts and a general call-up of boys as young as 10 years old meant that virtually every young male in Germany was, in some way, connected to the HJ. Only about 10 to 20% were able to avoid joining.

There were a few members of the Hitler Youth who privately disagreed with Nazi ideologies. For instance, Hans Scholl
Hans Scholl
Hans Fritz Scholl was a founding member of the White Rose resistance movement in Nazi Germany.-Biography:...

, the brother of Sophie Scholl
Sophie Scholl
Sophia Magdalena Scholl was a German student, active within the White Rose non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany. She was convicted of high treason after having been found distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich with her brother Hans...

 and one of the leading figures of the anti-Nazi resistance movement White Rose
White Rose
The White Rose was a non-violent/intellectual resistance group in Nazi Germany, consisting of students from the University of Munich and their philosophy professor...

 (Weiße Rose), was also a member of the Hitler Youth. This fact is emphasised in the film The White Rose
Die Weiße Rose (film)
Die Weiße Rose is a 1982 German film about the White Rose resistance to the Nazi authorities led by a group of Christian students in Munich in 1942-1943 whose members were caught and executed in February 1943, shortly after the German capitulation at Stalingrad...

 which depicts how Scholl was able to resist Nazi Germany's ideology while being a member of the Nazi party's youth movement. The 1993 Thomas Carter
Thomas Carter (film director)
Thomas Carter is an American film and television director known for Swing Kids, Save the Last Dance with Julia Stiles, and Coach Carter with Samuel L...

 film Swing Kids
Swing Kids (film)
Swing Kids is a film produced in 1993, directed by Thomas Carter and starring Christian Bale, Robert Sean Leonard and Kenneth Branagh. The runtime is approximately 112 minutes. The film is considered as being part of the Lindy Hop revival of the 1980s and 1990s...

 also focuses on this topic.

In World War II

In 1940, Artur Axmann
Artur Axmann
Artur Axmann was the German Nazi leader of the Hitler Youth from 1940 through war's end in 1945.-Early life:Axmann was born in Hagen on 18 February 1913...

 replaced Schirach as Reichsjugendführer and took over leadership of the Hitler Youth. Axmann began to reform the group into an auxiliary force which could perform war duties. The Hitler Youth became active in German fire brigades and assisted with recovery efforts to German cities affected from Allied bombing. The Hitler Youth also assisted in such organizations as the Reich Postal Service, Deutsche Reichsbahn
Deutsche Reichsbahn
Deutsche Reichsbahn was the name of the following two companies:* Deutsche Reichsbahn, the German Imperial Railways during the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich and the immediate aftermath...

, fire services, and Reich radio service, and served among anti-aircraft defense crews.

By 1943, Nazi leaders began turning the Hitler Youth into a military reserve to draw manpower which had been depleted due to tremendous military losses. In 1943, the 12.SS-Panzer-Division Hitlerjugend
12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend
The 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend was a German Waffen SS armoured division during World War II. The Hitlerjugend was unique because the majority of its junior enlisted men were drawn from members of the Hitler Youth, while the senior NCOs and officers were generally veterans of the Eastern...

, under the command of SS-Brigadeführer
Brigadeführer
SS-Brigadeführer was an SS rank that was used in Nazi Germany between the years of 1932 and 1945. Brigadeführer was also an SA rank....

 Fritz Witt
Fritz Witt
Fritz Witt was a German Waffen-SS officer who served with the 1.SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler before taking command of the 12.SS-Panzer-Division Hitlerjugend...

, was formed. The Division was a fully equipped Waffen-SS
Waffen-SS
The Waffen-SS was a multi-ethnic and multi-national military force of the Third Reich. It constituted the armed wing of the Schutzstaffel or SS, an organ of the Nazi Party. The Waffen-SS saw action throughout World War II and grew from three regiments to over 38 divisions, and served alongside...

 panzer
Panzer
A Panzer is a German language word that, when used as a noun, means "tank". When it is used as an adjective, it means either tank or "armoured" .- Etymology :...

 division
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

, with the majority of the enlisted cadre being drawn from Hitler Youth boys between the ages of 16 and 18. The division was deployed during the Battle of Normandy against the British and Canadian forces to the north of Caen
Caen
Caen is a commune in northwestern France. It is the prefecture of the Calvados department and the capital of the Basse-Normandie region. It is located inland from the English Channel....

. During the following months, the division earned itself a reputation for ferocity and fanaticism. When Witt was killed by allied naval gunfire, SS-Brigadeführer Kurt Meyer
Kurt Meyer (Panzermeyer)
Kurt Meyer, nicknamed "Panzermeyer", served as an officer in the Waffen-SS during the Second World War. He saw action in many major battles, including the Invasion of France, Operation Barbarossa, and the Battle of Normandy.Meyer was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and...

 took over command and became the youngest divisional commander at age 33.

As German casualties escalated with the combination of Operation Bagration and the Lvov-Sandomierz Operation in the east, and Operation Cobra
Operation Cobra
Operation Cobra was the codename for an offensive launched by the First United States Army seven weeks after the D-Day landings, during the Normandy Campaign of World War II...

 in the west, members of the Hitlerjugend were recruited at ever younger ages. By 1945, the Volkssturm
Volkssturm
The Volkssturm was a German national militia of the last months of World War II. It was founded on Adolf Hitler's orders on October 18, 1944 and conscripted males between the ages of 16 to 60 years who were not already serving in some military unit as part of a German Home Guard.-Origins and...

 was commonly drafting 12-year-old Hitler Youth members into its ranks. During the Battle of Berlin
Battle of Berlin
The Battle of Berlin, designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, was the final major offensive of the European Theatre of World War II....

, Axmann's Hitler Youth formed a major part of the last line of German defense, and were reportedly among the fiercest fighters. Although the city commander, General Helmuth Weidling
Helmuth Weidling
Helmuth Otto Ludwig Weidling was an officer in the German Army before and during World War II...

, ordered Axmann to disband the Hitler Youth combat formations; in the confusion, this order was never carried out. The remnants of the youth brigade were "mowed down" by the advancing Russian forces; only two survivors remained.

Post World War II

The Hitler Youth was disbanded by Allied authorities as part of the denazification
Denazification
Denazification was an Allied initiative to rid German and Austrian society, culture, press, economy, judiciary, and politics of any remnants of the National Socialist ideology. It was carried out specifically by removing those involved from positions of influence and by disbanding or rendering...

 process. Some HJ members were suspected of war crimes but, as they were children, no serious efforts were made to prosecute these claims. While the HJ was never declared a criminal organization, its adult leadership was considered tainted for corrupting the minds of young Germans. Many adult leaders of the HJ were put on trial by Allied authorities, and Baldur von Schirach
Baldur von Schirach
Baldur Benedikt von Schirach was a Nazi youth leader later convicted of being a war criminal. Schirach was the head of the Hitler-Jugend and Gauleiter and Reichsstatthalter of Vienna....

 was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He was, however, convicted of crimes against humanity for his actions as Gauleiter of Vienna, not his leadership of the HJ.

German children born in the 1920s and 1930s became adults during the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 years. Since membership was compulsory after 1936, it was neither surprising nor uncommon that many senior leaders of both West
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 and East Germany had been in the HJ. Little effort was made to blacklist
Blacklist
A blacklist is a list or register of entities who, for one reason or another, are being denied a particular privilege, service, mobility, access or recognition. As a verb, to blacklist can mean to deny someone work in a particular field, or to ostracize a person from a certain social circle...

 political figures who had been youth members of the HJ, since many had had little choice in the matter.

Despite this, several notable figures have been "exposed" by the media
News media
The news media are those elements of the mass media that focus on delivering news to the general public or a target public.These include print media , broadcast news , and more recently the Internet .-Etymology:A medium is a carrier of something...

 as former HJ Youth members. These include Stuttgart mayor Manfred Rommel
Manfred Rommel
Manfred Rommel, Hon. CBE is a German politician , who served as Lord Mayor of Stuttgart from 1974 until 1996. He is one of the most popular local politicians of the CDU....

 (son of the famous general Erwin Rommel
Erwin Rommel
Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel , popularly known as the Desert Fox , was a German Field Marshal of World War II. He won the respect of both his own troops and the enemies he fought....

); former foreign minister of Germany
Foreign Minister of Germany
The Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs is the head of the Federal Foreign Office and a member of the Cabinet of Germany. The current office holder is Guido Westerwelle...

 Hans-Dietrich Genscher
Hans-Dietrich Genscher
Hans-Dietrich Genscher is a German politician of the liberal Free Democratic Party . He served as Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor of Germany from 1974 to 1982 and, after a two-week pause, from 1982 to 1992, making him Germany's longest serving Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor...

; philosopher Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his theory on the concepts of 'communicative rationality' and the 'public sphere'...

 and the late Prince Consort of the Netherlands Claus von Amsberg
Claus von Amsberg
Prince Claus of the Netherlands was the prince consort of the current Queen regnant of the Netherlands, Queen Beatrix.-Biography:...

.

Allegations against Pope Benedict XVI

In his 1996 autobiography Salt of the Earth, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

) revealed that he was a member of Hitler Youth when he was 14 years old. The disclosure is not unexpected since during World War II, membership was mandatory for almost every teenage male in Germany. However, in a May 2009 trip to Israel, Benedict's spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi
Federico Lombardi
Federico Lombardi, SJ is an Italian Roman Catholic priest and the current director of the Holy See Press Office.-Early life and ordination:...

 told reporters that Ratzinger was never in the Hitler Youth, actually being in the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

 as an air force assistant. According to the Pope's brother, Monsignor Gregor Ratzinger, Josef was automatically placed on the Hitler Youth membership rolls on turning 14, as was required by law, but "did not attend meetings." In 1943 Ratzinger was conscripted into the Flakhelfer, teenage boys who assisted the crews of Luftwaffe antiaircraft guns; he eventually deserted and made his way to the American lines. The Ratzinger family, according to those who knew them, were very religious and hated the Nazi regime.

See also

  • Der Marsch zum Führer
  • Der Pimpf
    Der Pimpf
    Der Pimpf was the Nazi magazine for boys, particularly those in the Deutsches Jungvolk, with adventure and propaganda. It first appeared in 1935 as Morgen, changing its name to Der Pimpf in 1937; its frequency went down with the war....

  • Falange
    Falange
    The Spanish Phalanx of the Assemblies of the National Syndicalist Offensive , known simply as the Falange, is the name assigned to several political movements and parties dating from the 1930s, most particularly the original fascist movement in Spain. The word means phalanx formation in Spanish....

  • German Youth Movement
    German Youth Movement
    The German Youth Movement is a collective term for a cultural and educational movement that started in 1896. It consists of numerous associations of young people that focus on outdoor activities. The movement included German Scouting and the Wandervogel...

  • Glossary of Nazi Germany
  • Herbert Norkus
    Herbert Norkus
    Herbert Norkus was a Hitler Youth member who was killed by German Communists. He became a role model and martyr for the Hitler Youth and was widely used in Nazi propaganda, most prominently as the subject of novel and movie Hitler Youth Quex.- Background :Born to a working class family in the...

  • Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow
    Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow
    Hitler Youth: Growing up in Hitler's Shadow is a non-fiction children's book written by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, and published in 2005. It received the Newbery Honor medal in 2006....

  • Hitler Youth Knife
    Hitler Youth Knife
    The Hitler Youth Knife was a knife sold to and carried by boys of the paramilitary youth organization of the Nazi Party that existed from 1922 to 1945. The Hitler Youth wore knives as part of their uniform, which was very similar to the uniforms worn by the Sturmabteilung or SA...

  • Bund Deutscher Mädel
    League of German Girls
    The League of German Girls or League of German Maidens , was the girl's wing of the overall Nazi party youth movement, the Hitler Youth. It was the only female youth organization in Nazi Germany....

    - League of German Girls
  • List of Nazi Party leaders and officials

  • Mocidade Portuguesa
    Mocidade Portuguesa
    The Mocidade Portuguesa was a Portuguese youth organization under the right-wing regime of the Estado Novo. Membership was compulsory between the ages of 7 and 14, and voluntary until the age of 25....

  • National Socialist German Students' League
    National Socialist German Students' League
    The National Socialist German Students' League was founded in 1926 as a division of the NSDAP with the mission of integrating University-level education and academic life within the framework of the National Socialist worldview...

  • National Socialist Schoolchildren's League
    National Socialist Schoolchildren's League
    The National Socialist Schoolchildren's League , known under the acronyms NSS and also, more rarely NSSB, was a National Socialist organisation for primary school pupils providing a student council and child protection system in Germany from 1929 till 1933.-History:The league began roughly around...

  • Nationalsozialistischer Reichsbund für Leibesübungen
    Nationalsozialistischer Reichsbund für Leibesübungen
    The Nationalsozialistischer Reichsbund für Leibesübungen , more rarely "NSRBL", , known as Deutscher Reichsbund für Leibesübungen until 1938, was the umbrella organization for sports during the Third Reich.The NSRL was led by the Reichssportführer, who after 1934 was...

  • Opera Nazionale Balilla
    Opera Nazionale Balilla
    thumb|240px|A young balilla in [[Piazza Venezia]].Opera Nazionale Balilla was an Italian Fascist youth organization functioning, as an addition to school education, between 1926 and 1937 .It was named after Balilla, the moniker of Giovan Battista Perasso,...

    - Italian Fascist youth movement
  • Reichskolonialbund
    Reichskolonialbund
    The Reichskolonialbund was a collective body that absorbed all German colonial organizations during the time of the Third Reich...

  • Vorwärts! Vorwärts! schmettern die hellen Fanfaren
    Vorwärts! Vorwärts! schmettern die hellen Fanfaren
    Vorwärts! Vorwärts! schmettern die hellen Fanfaren was a marching song of the Hitler Youth, which was also known as their banner song...



External links

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