The Hitler Youth (Hitler-Jugend in German or HJ) organization was founded by Adolf Hitler, the leader of the NSDAP in July 1926 and future dictator of Germany. It was a recreation of an earlier Nazi youth movement known as the Jungenbund der NSDAP. It was designed to integrate teenage boys and young men so that they might become Nazis. The Hitler Youth section for boys aged 10 to 14 was known as the Deutsches Jungvolk. The section for boys aged 14 to 18 was the Hitlerjugend proper. There was also another organization called the League of German Girls which trained young women in physical fitness, domestic duties and motherhood.
The Hitler Youth was modeled on similar organizations created by other Socialist parties in Germany from the 1920s onwards. The German Communist party had founded a similar movement in the 1920s, attempting to foster opposing, albeit still leftist, political views. It also had some basis from the Boy Scouts. However, from its conception the Hitler Youth was entirely a fascist organization. The leader of the Hitler Youth until August 1940 was Baldur von Schirach, who was a principal defendant of the Nuremberg Trials.
Members of the Hitler Youth were taught the official Nazi far left, racist and anti-Semitic doctrines. Prior to 1935 the Hitler Youth focused on outdoor activities, such as, camping and sports. With the re-introduction of military conscription in 1935, the training and events changed to mainly focus on military training. The future most encouraged was service in the German armed forces (Wehrmacht); especially the German Army (Heer). Thus most Hitler Youth activities were based on working as a team, fitness and strength, instead of intelligence. Younger boys in the Hitler Youth were occasionally physically abused by older boys; this was unofficially tolerated by the adult leaders who felt it toughened the mettle of the boys.
In 1936, membership in the Hitler Youth became compulsory for boys aged 10 to 18. In August 1940, Artur Axmann replaced Baldur von Schirach as National youth leader (Reichsjugendführer). Axman held that position until the end of the war. In March 1942, boys 16 to 18 had to undergo a three-week training course prior to their military conscription. By the end of the war Hitler Youth members were being used as soldiers; compelled to act as front line troops and stretcher bearers.
Most Germans of a certain age were members, some of the better known being Pope Benedict XVI, former head of the Catholic Church, Günter Grass, an anti-Israeli author and Prince Claus van Amsberg (born Klaus von Amsberg) of the Netherlands, husband of Queen Beatrix.
- McNab (2009)
- Road to Serfdom, Friedrich A. Hayek, Reader's Digest Condensed Version, April 1945, pp. 35-36.
- McNab (2009)
- McNab (2009)
- McNab, Chris. The Third Reich (2009)