The Indoctrination of Hitler Youth
Hitler and the Nazis took control of all aspects of social life. This included the lives and education of German children. The Hitler Youth or Hitlerjugend was formed in 1926 subordinate to the Storm Troopers, but it was given independent status in 1932.(1) This did not mean the organization was free from the plans of Hitler. “The Hitler Youth organization strove to indoctrinate the youth of Germany with the ideological values of National Socialism.”(2) These values were patriotism, sense of community, and devotion to Hitler. Another piece of ideology was physical: the organization “stressed the importance of physical over intellectual education.”(3) Hitler’s ideal Aryan was physically strong, so he had this organization teach children that physical education was more important than intellectual education. The Hitler Youth was one more route for Hitler to raise his perfect Aryan race.
I already knew about the Hitler Youth before reading the sources for class, but I found that I learned a little more about the effects of this organization. It is astounding how Hitler used this organization to raise a generation of Germans who were unquestionably loyal to him. We learned in class that there were groups of children who did not yield to Hitler and his ideology, but the majority did yield to it. The Hitler Youth accomplished what it was created to do: it raised German soldiers who sided with Nazi ideology because they were raised with it. I have one question that we sort of touched on in class: how much conflict did this organization cause between children and their parents? We discussed in class how this organization emphasized obedience to Hitler over obedience to family, but I wonder how many children actually gave up on their families after being indoctrinated.
- Jackson Spielvogel, Hitler and Nazi Germany: A History (United States: Pearson Education, 2014), 162.
- Spielvogel, Hitler and Nazi Germany, 164.
- Benjamin Sax and Dieter Kuntz, Inside Hitler’s Germany: A Documentary History of Life in the Third Reich (Lexington: D. C. Heath and Company, 1992), 309.