Gustav Adolf Lenck started the Hitler Youth in 1922; he had first tried to join the Nazi Party but was considered underage, so he formed a Youth league called the ‘Hitler Youth. ‘ The League was aimed at Aryan Germans aged between fourteen-eighteen. Once Hitler came to power, he banned all the other groups apart from the Hitler Youth, because he only wanted young people to hear one message, his! He wanted complete control of Germans Youth from the moment they were born. Hitler’s plan was to re-build Germany in order to achieve ‘Lebransraum’ part of this plan was the Hitler Youth.
The activities, which the young Germans had been experiencing, soon changed once Hitler came to power. All the activities had a focus on military exercise and creating tough fighting machines out of the boys and mothers out of the girls. Hitler wanted to create a ‘Master’ race of Aryan Germans; the Hitler Youth was the way forward. Young people were very important to Hitler’s plans because he based the Hitler Youth on competition; physical fitness and military training for this you need young people.
He also saw young people as the leaders of tomorrow. You could describe it as ‘cradle to the grave’ this means having control of young people right from the beginning and until the end. By introducing the Hitler Youth, Hitler could indoctrinate young people from an early age. Hitler thought it was vital to take control of the German youth movement and schools. The reason for this was because he wanted the young people to be loyal and enthusiastic supporters of the Nazi state. Also it was easier to use propaganda on young minds.
Hitler used the schools to reinforce Nazi ideas and to teach young people about such things as racial hygiene, the glories of Germanys past and the benefits of physical fitness. It was only later that teachers discerned a decline in academic performance resulting from an over-emphasis upon physical activities. Lessons began and ended with the teacher and the students raising one arm and saying ‘Heil Hitler. ‘ Hitler had such great control that many parents were worried about the effects of so much propaganda on young minds.
As children grew older, the spirit of independence, which Hitler Youth had given them often, surfaced, causing them to challenge the views and authority of their parents. Some parents even became afraid of their children and worried that they might report them to the Gestapo. Denunciation of parents by children was encouraged not least by schoolteachers who set essays entitled “What does your family talk about at home? ” The changed characters of their children prompted well-heeled families to reflect on the value of personal and political freedom. Their children became strangers contemptuous of the monarchy or religion.
In some cases, children appeared to have become more brutal, fitter and stupider then they were. Gradual brutalisation of manners, impoverishment of vocabulary and rejection of traditional values alarmed parents. It was enough to make those with children envious those without. In Nazi Germany, education meant indoctrination. Hitler used the schools to reinforce Nazi ideas. The school curriculum was dominated by subjects, which served the Nazi purpose. Physical education, Biology, German and History were given special emphasis; Nazi themes were presented through every subject.
Science focussed on chemical warfare and explosives, Maths dealt with social issues and artillery calculations and Geography lessons were used to show how hostile neighbours surrounded Germany. Textbooks were re-written to reflect and promote Nazi ideas. Teachers were made to teach their pupils that Jews, socialists and other ‘undesirables’ were the cause of all Germanys problems. It made confirmation classes an ordeal especially if the local schoolmaster was indoctrinating children with Nazi views; ‘ The Jews hated Jesus Christ, so we must also hate the Jews.
Priests who spoke sympathetically of the Jews were publicly vilified as ‘Friends of the Jews. ‘ One of the major purposes of the Hitler Youth was to turn the young boys into strong fighters to build up a ‘Wehrmacht’ (army). Hitler thought that in order to do this they had to train them from a young age. There was the ‘Pimpfen’ for six to ten year olds; ‘Deutches Jungvolk’ for ten to fourteen year olds and ‘Hitlerjugend’ for fourteen to eighteen year olds. After this the young adults would join either the ‘Reich Labour service’ or the ‘Wehrmacht’.
Hitler had complete control over every single stage in the young Germans lives. There was also a patrol service (SRD) who would check that all the members of the Hitler Youth were looking smart and that they were carrying a clean handkerchief and comb. The key factor that took precedence over anything else, was that the boys were fir. The Hitler Youth concentrated on boxing, shooting, marching, club throwing (which would be useful later when using the hand grenade), athletics and military exercises basically any activity, which involved body contact and aggression!
The boys were even encouraged to play military style games, such as war games. Team games were also encouraged because it gave the boys a sense of unity; one of Hitler’s aims. The boys were made to take proficiency tests, part of these tests involved marches and overnight stays in hostels. There was the 36 hour journey called the ‘Kleinefahrt’ and the ‘Grossfahrt’ which lasted one month and may include a boat or train journey. On average the boys had to march 15 miles a day.
The main point of the journeys was to teach the young boys the history of their ancestors. The greatest march of the year would end in Nuremberg, where the rallies were held and more indoctrination would take place. Both boys and girls would go to summer camp, which for most was the highlight of the year. The point of these summer camps was to encourage the young people to unify and work as a team. The girls on the other hand were indoctrinated into thinking they had to follow the 3Ks: Kinder (Children); Kirche (Church), and Kiche (Kitchen).
While the boys had to become strong fighters and prepare for war, the girls had to learn first aid and help on the land. As well as that their main aim was to reproduce! Hitler wanted to create a ‘master’ race, so he encouraged women to produce Aryan babies, so that they could be racially pure. Like the boys the girls could join in the ‘Jung Madel’ if they were aged between 10 and 14 and ‘Bund Deutscher Madel’ for 14 to 18 year olds. After that they were in the ‘Glaube und Schonheit’ the Faith and Beauty School for 18 to 21 year olds.
So just like the boys every stage of the girls lives were controlled by their Fuhrer. The young children would have the Nazi ideas influencing them at all times, not only whilst they were at school but also from films, music, media, friends, church and family. Even whilst they were in Nuremberg at the rallies, they would be shown films of last years rallies and how the older generation were enthusiastic supporters of the Nazi State. Hitler made a speech at the Nuremberg Rally, 14 September 1935, which tells of the exact nature and purpose of the Hitler Youth. What we look for from German youth is different from what people wanted in the past. In our eyes the German youth of the future must be slim, slender, swift as the greyhound, tough as leather and hard as krupp steel. ” They were indoctrinated with the idea that they had to sacrifice themselves for the good of the nation and the Fuhrer. The Hitler Youth was “Youth led by youth,” the young boys would be lectured to by boys who were only a few years older. The older boys would read to the younger boys, not always understanding what they were reading themselves.
When questioned by the younger possibly slightly more intelligent boys, the older boys would not be able to answer, because they were just reading, without believing or understanding it themselves. The nature and purpose of the ‘Hitler Youth’ was to enforce “Cradle to Grave” control, in order to create the Nazis of the future and indoctrinate them into thinking that they had to sacrifice themselves for the good of the nation. The positive reasons for joining the Hitler Youth were that there were children from all classes of families, though mainly middle class and workers; there were no social or class distinctions.
There was also no direct or obvious political indoctrination until later – after Hitler came to power. Also the appeal of the Hitler Youth was the novelty, the drill, the uniform, the camp life and the fact that school and parental control and home took a back seat compared to the community of young people. The main aim of the Hitler Youth was to create a ‘Master’ race of Aryan Germans, so Hitler used and changed the organisation of the youth movement to pursue his own goals.