Hitler Yourth Essay, Research Paper
The Hitler Youth movement was an essential element of Hitler?s plan, which grew and fell with the Third Reich. Although in the early 1930s the movement had great purpose, to bring Hitler to power, esprit de corps declined with the boredom of drill regimented activities and increased military focus. However, the coming of war and eagerness to defend the Fuhrer showed that the Hitler Youth was ultimately successful.
The Hitler Youth undoubtedly played a key role in the overall plan for the Third Reich. The movement was an invaluable source of zealous members for the NSDAP and affiliated organisations and later the main source of recruits for the SS. However the youth movement played an even more fundamental role in the Nazi plan. Hitler called the youth “the guarantee for the future”. The Nazi believed “those who have the youth on their side, control the future”. For these reasons, the Hitler Youth was considered vital and consequently emphasis was placed children?s education and indoctrination, which was extremely successful. Alfons Heck wrote, “I had been completely indoctrinated, and I truly believed the Jews were an international threat to us”
Leading to Hitler?s power, there was a strong sense of purpose and morale within the Hitler Youth movement – it was a successful organisation as Hitler had planned. The movement was an opportunity to get away from home and participate in camps, while developing leadership and a name for oneself . Members took part in regular weekend hikes during which they sang songs and were fed Nazi propaganda by older leaders. Hitler was moulding Germany?s youth to be “swift as a greyhound, as tough as leather and as hard as Krupp?s steel”. Children saw the hyprocy of the Weimer Republic and believed strongly in Nazi ideas and policy. Hence strong growth and popularity within the HY. Some members walked four hundred miles to be part of the annual Nuremberg rally, and show their support for the Nazis. Enthusiasm was also shown through fund raising efforts. Members collected donations during propaganda marches. Marches displayed esprit de corps ? with children singing Hitler Youth songs. Tireless propaganda activities of the movement which t helped enormously the Nazi party in the 1932 German elections, would not have been possible without strong morale within the movement. This implies that the German youth believed in Hitler.
Although, as Hitler?s power increased and the movement began to play a role in enforcing Nazi ideas, Hitler?s “guarantee for the future” was beginning to show signs of failure. By the end of the 1930s attraction to the once forefeeling Hitler Youth movement declined . Many youths didn?t want the regimented lifestyle or detested how every element of life was controlled. Alfons Keck writes that everything was competition based, different branches competed in every activity, from fund raising to singing . The Nazis believed “German youth must no longer be confronted with choice?it must ?shaped according to the principles of National Socialism”. This belief prompted resentment. Other youth groups or ?gangs? evolved. Street clashes between a Hitler Youth patrol and a gang, such as the Edelweiss Pirates were not uncommon. A ?swing? movement, which followed jazz music and dancing, also developed. Group sex and late night parties were protest to Nazi policy of sex separation and a nine o?clock curfew.
The war bought with it military drafting, and consequently the Hitler Youth lost many of its leaders to the war effort. This meant that young people were in-charge of large groups of boys. It was not uncommon for a sixteen-year-old to command seven hundred boys, and in one instance a seventeen year old Hitler Youth leader commanded 2, 800 others. For this reason the leadership deteriorated, while to movement dramatically increased in size, as the Third Reich absorbed surrounding countries. By 1939 membership was 7, 287, 470 or a total 8, 970, 000 ten of eighteen-year-olds.
The Second World War meant that the Hitler Youth had to play a key role in the war effort. Its success in doing this is evident through initiatives and tasks assigned to Germany?s reliable youth. At the beginning of the war the movement helped replace labour drafted to war. Members delivered ration cards and military notices. Wings of the Hitler Youth were key sources for well-trained soldier recruits. The Motor HJ was a source to motorised SS units, while the HJ?s aeronautical training provided the Luftwaffe with future pilots.
Although the Hitler Youth was vital, “You, my youth are our nations precious guarantee for a great future, and you are destined to be the leaders of a glorious new order under the supremacy of National Socialism. Never forget that one day you will rule the world” (Hitler), many youths did not want see their duties as exciting. The movement became part of daily routine ? collecting funds, delivering ration cards, and Hitler Youth military training and drill. However in 1942 WELS (Defence Strengthening Camps) were established, and gave older youths real weapon training. This was the beginning of the Hitler Youths real function within the war effort.
As the allied bombing campaign increased, the Nazis evacuated children to KLV camps in rural areas. A Nazi approved school teacher and a Hitler Youth section leader ran each camp. Life inside the camps was harsh and included military training, drill, hikes, marches and Nazi propaganda lessons. The camps were in keeping with Hitler?s belief in survival of the fittest. “He who would live must fight. He who does not fight?has no right to live”. Little and weak children were often bullied and in some cases, sexually abused.
The ultimate role of the Hitler Youth?s success and essential role in Nazi Germany was undoubtedly its efforts to save the Third Reich in a failing Germany. Hitler had trained and indoctrinated soldiers, eager to defend the Fuhrer and willing to kill for their country. In February 1943 Germany declared Total War. Consequently the Hitler Youth was to play a more direct role on the ?front line?. Due to dwindling manpower the 12th SS-Panzer Division was formed. 10,000 Hitler Youths arrived at training camp. Rank was occupied by ex-Hitler Youth members, recruited from existing SS units, however squad and section leaders were just youths who showed signs of good leadership. Among the troops high morale existed because unnecessary drill and routine were abolished and a more informal atmosphere was established. On June 6 1944 the division first did battle with Canadians in the Normandy Campaign. Allied troops were astounded how the youths fought to the end, against men old enough to be their farther. The reckless bravery of the Hitler Youth showed Hitler?s success in training Germany?s children to be fanatical boy-soldiers.
Hitler Youths created the last line of defence. In late 1944 the Flieger HJ unit was deployed in Eastern Germany to assist the construction of anti-tank traps. The Siegfried Line was entirely rebuilt by the Hitler Youth. However at this stage leaders were been promoted to the army. Consequently Hitler Youth leaders became younger and younger, just as their final sacrifise was at hand. In October 1944 all males aged 16 to 60 were required for Home Guard. Hitler Youth leaders were made in charge of World War One veterans. One such leader who was 17 at the time remarked about his troops,
“I stood in front of a platoon of the Volkssturm. Of the 45 men, only 10 were Hitler Youth members; the others were in their 40’s and 50’s. Herr Wolff, whose son had fallen as a sergeant in the Waffen-SS, was 65. I eyed them with some apprehension: undisciplined, over-aged, unfit civilians wearing black-red armbands with the inscription Deutsche Wehrmacht. I felt very self-conscious as their leader. Some were the fathers of my school friends.”
The Hitler Youth were the backbone of the Home Guard. Hitler?s military training was successful. Units would regularly ambush American infantry units. If they were cornered, they would fight until the last child. In April 1945, the Hitler Youth bravely defended the Havel River in Berlin, a last duty by Hitler?s loyal youths. After five days of fighting, only 500 able bodied youths remained.
The Hitler Youth, although hindered by poor morale during the late 1930s, was an invaluable tool and asset to both Hitler and Germany. They fought hard ? to bring Hitler to power, to train Germany?s youth, to assist the war effort, and untimely to risk their own lives and defend the Fuhrer. Ten years of military training and indoctrination gave Hitler a loyal youth, and had the Third Reich succeeded, Hitler would have controlled the youth ? his guarantee of the future.