Moha Antani 20th Century Europe Final Exam The impact of the Hitler Youth on German society Historians

specializing in European History know the importance of the Hitler Youth in shaping the minds of young Germans during the inter-war period. Although starting out as a small and insignificant organization, the Hitler Youth (also known as the Hitler Jugend) soon became one of the largest youth institutions in the world. Through the analyses of various publications pertaining to this subject, one begins to gain an understanding of the ideologies of the Hitler Youth and the attitudes shared by the individuals. Some of these articles put a great emphasis on the generational gap and its impact on the formation of the Hitler Youth. These works also offer an insight into the education system under the Nazi regime and how the school¶s priorities completely altered. While most historians rarely dispute on certain aspects of this topic, the indecisive nature of the youths and their reasons for joining the Hitler Youth are still being debated. By reading these accounts, one begins to grasp the amount of power held by the Hitler Youth, and how this power aided them in overthrowing opposing religious youth organizations. To further their arguments and discussions, many of these sources use primary documents to validate their points on the effects of Hitler Youth on German society. Finally, these scholars illustrate the significance of their research in gathering a complete view of the Hitler Youth and its¶ implications on the development of German culture. One of the most noticeable factors the Hitler Youth had on society¶s individuals was their rigorous fitness curriculum. Hitler wanted men who surpassed any other race and ethnicity in their physical health to be the image of the Third Reich. Gerhard Rempel in his novel named Hitler¶s Children: The Hitler Youth and the SS, acknowledges the attractive nature of the ideal

the young individuals willingly participated in these strenuous activities as they offered an escape ³from the drudgery of everyday life [and] into a world of action and heroics´ (174). Hitler sought to transform this new generation into his new order. Peter Loewenberg psychoanalyzes the actions of the Nazi Youth and uses psychology to comprehend the nature of their exploits in his ³The Psychohistorical Origins of the Nazi Youth Cohort´. Rempel¶s discussion pertaining to the physical obsession of the Germans during the Third Reich begins to give one an understanding of the Hitler Youth and its effect on society. The youth movement did not just begin with the Hitler Youth²it had its roots way prior to the formation of the Third Reich. Rempel also shows an awareness of the adolescents¶ determination to succeed and maintain health. Researching the different types of physical exercises and sports. the National Sport Competition attracted more than 7 million competitors in 1939. Not only did fitness play a part in developing one¶s physique. Even though exercise and sports were a compulsory part of the education system of the Hitler Youth. economic . it also brought about a sense of patriotism. one knows the violence that was used to gather support for the National Socialist party. Even though many children were persuaded to join through this method. which comprised of almost 80% of teenagers (179). From having a general sense of Hitler¶s dictatorship. in fact. In his book. the people of Central Europe were left to recover from all the prolonged hunger. and thus ³eradicate the thousands of years of human domestication´ (Rempel 173). Authors tend to have different perspectives regarding the reasons behind the membership of the regime.physical being to the people of that era. He notes the fact that the Nazis emphasized the childhood as the prime time for creating soldiers who were fit to represent the Third Reich. After the First World War. Rempel demonstrates the complete effect it had on German youths. self discipline and obedience. historians have encountered upon various other motives of youths for joining the organization.

they were undoubtedly the most likely to be jobless. On the other hand. it is inevitable that he correlates the swarming of the youth into the hands of the Hitler Youth with the travesties they faced during the inter-war period. and other problems brought on by the war. thereby assuaging feelings of unworthiness and masochistic fantasies of rejection´(1492). Peter D. projecting all negative antinational or antisocial qualities onto foreign and ethnic individuals and groups´ (Loewenberg 1463). Instead of using psychological means to assess the youth and their decisions. one out of every three Germans was unemployed (1468). He specifically emphasizes the point of one¶s childhood being imperative in forming one¶s adult life and psyche. Stachura derives his reasoning from historical data and assumptions made based upon the data. a large part of the members of the Hitler Youth joined as a result of their built up aggressive nature and the desire to vent off their anger. Thus. their incentives for joining the Hitler Youth. Since the youth were the most inexperienced. and how they collectively as a group helped formulate the Third Reich. In his novel. as young people were easily persuaded by the National Socialist party and their promises for an improved future. he creates an established view of the German adolescents. presents one with another point of view in his book titled The German Youth Movement 1900-1945. Using psychological research pertaining to the effects of the absence of parental figures on the child. in 1932. Loewenberg comes to the conclusion that ³self-humiliation and selfcontempt were displaced onto the Jews and other supposedly inferior people. Stachura. According to Loewenberg. Like Loewenberg. Stachura also starts out by stating that the Hitler Youth was a result of the various German Youth movements that . another renowned historian. children began to vent out their frustrations ³with externalized violence. Because of the mental stress faced by a child during and after the war.depression. For example. These conditions played a major role in the future politics of Germany.

intense propaganda. the membership of the Hitler Youth was just over 5 million members. one can come to the conclusion that the young people of Germany both willingly and unwillingly responded to the organization in a positive manner. Both Loewenberg and Stachura further our insight into the minds of the individuals and give us a background reason for the compliance of the German youth to the Third Reich. The young Germans also ³strove for commitment and identification with a cause´ (95) and thus wanted an organization that would make them feel as if it was solely for the young Germans. Stachura claims that the youth were lured into the organization through the ³HJ¶s unrelenting use of nationalism in trying to persuade youth that the best interests of Germany would be served by everyone¶s being united under one banner´ (123). expanding social and recreational amenities and government pressure had all proved insufficiently persuasive´ (133). Gerhard Rempel discusses why the gap . Evidently. they were distinct from the rest as their ideology and organization set them apart from previous youth groups of Germany. Moreover. Even though these factors were also present in the Hitler Jugend prior to 1933. a penchant for violence and sheer hooliganism. these movements ended up failing due to ³a lack of good leadership. Historians who have written about or studied on this topic realize the consequence of the generational gap on the growth of the Hitler Youth. the Hitler Youth expanded into the German Labour Front with the transfer of apprentices and factory workers into the organization. ³terror tactics. While there were other youth organizations such as the KJVD (Kommunisticher Jugendverband Deutschlands) and the SAJ (Verband der Sozialistische Arbeiterjugend Deutschlands). By analyzing the works of these two authors. and the absence of material assistance from the party´ (Stachura 112).had surfaced during the turn of the 20th century. crude propaganda methods. making it the largest youth organization in the world (131). In 1936.

³ µWe older ones are used up«. parents.We are rotten to the marrow«But my magnificent youngsters! Are there finer ones anywhere in the world? Look at these young men and boys! What material! With them I can make it a new world¶ ´ (Rempel 1-2). Although Rempel is well aware that calculating the influence of young people on teachers. they were likely to discuss their opposing sentiments in the privacy of their households. in fact. He begins by pointing out the obsession Hitler had with the youth as a political force.essentially played a major role in creating the Hitler Youth. Due to the insistence of this movement being youth oriented. in his book titled Hitler Youth. Michael H. and adults in general would be impossible. As previously mentioned when discussing Loewenberg¶s article. he still cannot deny ³that the uniformed army of teenagers had something to do with promoting the myth of Hitler¶s invincible genius´ (2). As Rempel brushes upon the spying and backstabbing nature of German children during that period. He uses Peter Loewenberg¶s psycho-analysis study to determine the factors behind the feelings of distance of the new generation from the old. concentrates on the effects of historical events on the generation conflict. he attributes the increasing generational gap on the ³caution and silence [that had] replaced candor and guidance as the twin commandments of family life´ (106). By using a direct quote of Hitler. While Rempel focuses on the youth¶s acquirement of modern ideas as the reason for the generational gap. the absence of parental units . Rempel talks about the disruptions in family life caused by child spies and informants. Krater. he quotes Hitler saying. and how the changing role of the youth thus would impact society. Rempel¶s information leads one to understand the underlying cause of the division between the generations as the youth themselves with their new ideas and opinions. Since many of the older generations did not share the same ideas as the Third Reich. Rempel makes clear the importance of young people in making this organization successful.

the younger generation was given their jobs and responsibilities. ideas ³alien to their parents¶ experience´ (8). causing great chaos among . For example. the Hitler Youth made an attempt at dissolving all the existing youth movements. the return of the parents and elder cohort brought the youth to feel ³cheated out of whatever chances they had thought were theirs and [thus] increasingly looked to radical alternatives´ (Kater 6). Similar to Rempel¶s ideas. In trying to gain power. Therefore. However. The German youth hence joined several groups such as the Jungnationaler Bund. By connecting the psychology of the youth with their role in the Hitler Youth. By involving themselves into this aspect of society. which offered a refuge from all the problems they faced with their elders.during the child¶s prime years along with the immediate following of an economic depression. You Old Ones!¶ ´ (10). including the powerful religious organizations. they were able to create an even bigger gap in society between the young and the old. the intergenerational conflict became the prime explanation for the development of the numerous German youth movements in the early 1900s. built up a lot of animosity within the German youth. Kater develops a full understanding of the effects of the generation gap. Such methods illustrated the skill of the Hitler Youth in exacerbating ³the existing generational tensions to their own ends´ (10). He relates the generation clash to the rise of the National Socialist movement among the youth. they were interfering in non-political affairs. When the older generation was at war. Kater also notes that the young people wanted freedom and the choice to live life beyond ³urban confines´ (7). Because of the Hitler Youth¶s clever tactics. as the Nazi party uses propaganda schemes to deepen this disparity. They became enchanted by the notions of romanticism and mysticism. one of their old war slogans was ³ µMake Way. even before the Hitler Youth was formed. which Kater uses as the title of a chapter in this book thus highlighting the importance of the phrase.

Hitler¶s administration overlooked this agreement and proclaimed that any ³ µprivate concern of the churches. However. which was unmatched by any other sector of the German youth movement´ (127). Stachura inputs his positive thoughts on the Catholic organization and how the group demonstrated its willpower through their resistance. The result of this was a Concordat between the National Socialists and the Vatican. Stachura makes it a point to acknowledge the perseverance of the Catholic youth as the fact that they were able to hold out till the Second World War is ³ample testimony to the inherent strength and wholesomeness of Catholic youth life. The Protestant movement welcomed the Third Reich and its ideologies²they felt they could work together with the Hitler Youth in order to expand both their beliefs. The Catholic youth were ³prepared to make its contribution to national rejuvenation. the Catholics were determined to resist the control of the Third Reich using any means necessary. provided its religious and educational interests were respected by the regime´ (126). they did not want to disband their youth movement especially after hearing of the anti-Christian sentiments made by the Hitler Youth leader.the people. .000 members. Although they created a new organization in 1933 called the Evandelische Jugendwerk Deutschlands which comprised of 700. Stachura explains the history of the Hitler Youth in trying to take control of the Protestant and Catholic organizations and subtly adds his own opinions comparing the two religious units. the leader of pro-National Socialist German Christian group. Nevertheless. as Reich Bishop (Stachura 125). Unlike the Protestant movement. which was supposed to unite the two groups. Through his words. However. Stachura emphasizes the ³deep divisions in the Protestant Church´ (126) and how this also added to their submission to the Hitler regime in 1934. the resistance of the Protestant group came to an end with the appointment of Ludwig Muller. von Schirach. is in itself an intolerable situation¶ ´ (127).

however. in his findings. both Kater and Stachura view the Hitler Youth as expanding into areas which did not concern them.Michael H. the Hitler Youth made it entirely impossible for people to continue their practices without being suspected or harassed. Protestant groups felt they could upkeep some of their previous traditions. Kater¶s take on the Catholic youth group outlines their struggle against the Hitler Youth. The Hitler Youth did not just expand into the religious sectors of society²they also invaded the entire education system in Germany. Both the authors illustrate the power of the Hitler Youth in taking over the religious aspect of German life. Through their studies. as they went as far as to make proclamations against the Concordat. To the Protestants. sees that the National Socialist party regarded the teaching of scientific and objective knowledge as low priorities²they stressed more on the . On the other hand. Where he differs from Stachura¶s view is that he does not point out the superiority of any particular system compared to the other. Stachura. historians have found the existence of resentment and opposition from the teachers and many Germans. ³Hitler appeared as having been directly sent by God in order to save Germany´ (Kater 21). Kater communicates the same historical background of the two religious organizations as Stachura. and its wrongdoings in interfering with non-political factors. With their easy submission. the only reason for the Protestant youth resisting was to keep their ³institutional freedom´ (21) rather than to uphold their religious beliefs. they are able to accurately make judgments concerning the ³voluntary´ nature of the organization. Through their research. Kater highlights the lack of trust the Hitler Youth had for religious institutions. and their constant attempts at keeping their group alive. Undoubtedly. but instead gives one an objective view on this subject. which was set forth by the Vatican itself. Kater proclaims. According to Kater. as the youth spent most of their lives in schools. Several scholars tend to put great emphasis on this aspect of the Hitler Youth.

and did not understand the importance of the National Socialist movement. Stachura makes known his own distaste of the education system under the Third Reich: ³Instead of being led to the µnew man¶ in a new paradise based on humanitarian principles. and therefore did not have any academic agenda. they were designed to produce the future of the Third Reich. These schools were created outside of the state school sector. During this period. After describing all the facts and details of their takeover of German education. However. This particular decline in academic standards is discussed at length by Stachura. the German youth became less knowledgeable about academic things as they would be too tired to concentrate on their studies after Hitler Youth activities. When the National Socialist party began to gain more power.building of race-consciousness. As the influence of the Hitler Youth became even more apparent. as they thought old ones were too backward. were vulnerable to losing their job. putting great emphasis on the ³youth´ factor. tried to replace old teachers with new ones. Clearly. instead. as well as how this lack of knowledge caused the youth to be even more susceptive to the dictatorship. von Schirach saw it as the key time to establish the Adolf-Hitler Schulen (AHS) in 1937. and a proper understanding of history (Stachura 145). German youth was led to untold misery and . ³the HJ had shown itself to be both a revolutionary force for destroying established sources of authority and a counter-revolutionary regime´ (152). Teachers who therefore acted out against the Fuhrer or just voiced their disagreement of the Third Reich were immediately kicked out and replaced. character building. teachers began to feel resentment towards the Hitler regime. feeling like puppets of the larger movement. The Hitler Youth. Stachura makes it known that even those teachers who did swear allegiance to the Fuhrer. ³the regime was determined to abolish what it considered to be the liberal and humanitarian educational system of the Weimer Republic´ (144). Although knowing that politics entering into the education sector of German life was a bad idea.

He also brings up the generational conflict which was previously mentioned. and his poor performance in school as the reason for the future antiintellectual education system he creates. the NSS became even more active. students refused to comply. and sought out to eliminate opposing teachers asserting that ³the school belongs to us. Horn¶s analysis is interesting in that it puts much of the responsibility of the overthrowing of the education system upon the students themselves. Daniel Horn¶s excerpt ³The Hitler Youth and Educational Decline in the Third Reich´ is a much more focused study in that it contains specific details regarding the educational decline. Moreover. After the Third Reich gained control. Even before the ascendance of Hitler into power in 1933. Many members of the Hitler Youth felt that ³teacher were too old to have any understanding for them´ and thus pushed for ³younger and more dynamic teachers [to] be appointed´ (429). and how it negatively impacted German youth during the Third Reich. He begins by mentioning Hitler himself. However. which used terror tactics and propaganda to persuade students to go against educational authority. Through this and other similar reasons.humiliation´ (168). and states how the Nazi leaders made it their point to play upon this gap in order to achieve what they wanted. instead of the Third Reich leaders. even when younger and Nazi party affiliated teachers took over. students had created a group called the National Socialist Students League (NSS). Stachura¶s particular emphasis on the academic loss gives one an understanding of the importance of education. The extreme euphoria felt by the youth towards this new regime brings Horn to note out that their actions were on the verge of anarchy as they were given too much freedom. making up ridiculous excuses in order to keep their control. to no one but us because we are the state´ (Horn 427). teachers ³had little choice but to come to terms with the Hitler Youth by placing . Unlike Stachura who gives one a complete overview of the education system.

By making a thorough study of the schooling methods during the Third Reich. Although this group was a way to gain more active members. Horn also brings up facts concerning the impact of this education intervention upon German learning and the disruption in society¶s routine ways. While the youth were in training in military ways. and whenever the Hitler Youth leadership needed them for inspiration at its own political and disciplinary exercises´ (32).at its disposal greater blocks of time´ (432). Evidently. they were also surrounded by several specialized units of extracurricular activities. These musical groups ³performed at public recitals. Even though the leaders of the Hitler Youth knew of this happening. Amongst the historians who have delved into this subject. and more and more kept on failing. Kater also mentions the existence of a musical choir for those artistically inclined members of the Hitler Youth. giving young people a variety of hobbies to choose from. the Hitler Youth extended its control and influence amongst all aspects of German life. . Units such as the Marine HJ. Besides taking over the entire education system of Germany. as part of the Nazi educational canon´ (32). Michael Kater discusses several unknown and less talked about areas where the Hitler Youth presented itself. the Hitler Youth leadership used this activity to formulate a greater and more submissive youth following. Horn captures the importance of students themselves in making the transition to a more Hitler Youth controlled environment possible. they felt that it was more important to focus on the activities of the organization. and the Communications HJ also existed. The Fliers HJ. the Equestrian HJ. offered ³courses in model-plane construction´ for ³eager young pilots´ while the Motor HJ concentrated on ground training with motorcycles and automobiles provided by the HJ (Kater 32). He makes note of the declining academic standards of the students as fewer and fewer were being accepted into universities. for example. Kater also adds that ³the repetitious use of song helped in the numbing of young minds.

Kater relates the participation in such activities to the help it would bring in the future during the Second World War as youths ³would know those territories and how to exploit them´ (34). The girls in essence acted as domestic housewives as they were ³to help. By looking over Kater¶s research. thus having their ideologies engraved into their brains. young individuals who were tired of their current circumstances sought out this organization as a way to bring hope for the future. Kater¶s description demonstrates the difference between the two sexes and shows the inferiority of women to men. Undoubtedly. Their main activities consisted of being fit to bear a son. Through this activity. The youthful Nazis took part in organized agricultural service by ³helping on the farms and in the fields. With these clubhouses. Some of these scholars make it clear that not all the effort was credited to the Hitler Youth. where they were needed«to stitch flags and brown shirts. whether this involved harvesting.Aside from these specific groups. the Hitler Youth indirectly controlled the youth. the female equivalent to the Hitler Youth. and teach him the Nazi values. When stating that the Hitler Youth managed all aspects of society and culture of the German youth. cook meals. or milking cows´ (34). especially during the wintertime. cutting wood. Kater was not exaggerating. lend medical first aid and post guard at some political demonstrations and pass along warnings´ (77). Although most if not all of these endeavors were targeted towards the male species. in fact. All these sources help one in understanding just how big of an impact the Hitler Youth had on the young individuals. Through their . and the almost inevitability of submitting to the organization. Kater mentions that girls also held a very important role in the Bund Deutscher Madel (BDM). the Hitler Youth established ³clubhouses´ as a place where the young boys and girls would spend much of their time in. the adolescents remained physically fit and benefitted the economy at the same time. one can finally realize just how much of a German youth¶s life comprised of the Hitler Youth.

these scholars successfully convey the effects of the Hitler Youth on young individuals in particular. as well as the impact the group as a whole had on German society. .vast research.

2004. American Historical Association. . 425-447. Hitler Youth. 76. 1976.. 1457-1502.´ History of Education Quarterly. Kater. Rempel. Loewenberg. Martin¶s Press. History of Education Society. pp. Peter.Citations Horn. Peter D. Daniel. New York: St. Stachura. Hitler¶s Children: The Hitler Youth and the SS. Winter. 1981. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. pp.´ The American Historical Review. ³The Psychohistorical Origins of the Nazi Youth Cohort. Vol. ³The Hitler Youth and Educational Decline in the Third Reich. London: The University of North Carolina Press. No. Gerhard. The German Youth Movement 1900-1945. Michael H. 5 (Dec. 1989. 1971).

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