Opposition to the Nazis by Young People

Opposition to the Nazis by Young People

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Opposition to the Nazis by Young People

  • Many people were attracted to the Nazi youth movements by the leisure opportunities they offered
  • There weren't really any alternatives as all other youth groups had been absorbed or made illegal
  • Even so only half of German boys were members in 1933 and only 15% of girls
  • In 1939 membership of a Nazi youth movement was made compulsory and by this time the youth movements were going through a crisis
  • Many of the experienced leaders had been drafted into the army and others had been replaced by keener Nazis
  • Many of the movements were lead by older teenagers who rigidly enforced Nazi rules and forbade teenagers to meet informally with there friends
  • As the war progressed the activites in the youth movement focused on the war effort and military drills
  • The popularity decreased and an Anti- Hitler youth movement was created
  • The Nazis identified two groups of young people who they were worried about: the Swing movement and the Edelweiss Pirates
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The Swing Movement

  • This was mainly made up of middle class teenagers
  • They went to parties where they listened to English and American music and sang English songs
  • They danced American dances such as the jitterbug to banned jazz music
  • They accepted Jews at their clubs 
  • The Nazis issued a handbook helping the authorities to identify these degenerate types
  • Some were shown with unkempt, long hair and exaggerated English clothes 
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The Edelweiss Pirates

  • They were working class teenagers
  • They were not an organised movement and groups in various cities had different names - Nazis classified them under one name as the groups had a lot in common
  • They were aged between 14 and 17 and included both boys and girls
  • At weekends they went camping and sang songs like the Hitler Youth did but they changed the lyrics to mock Germany and taunted the Hitler youth and sometimes attacked them
  • There activities caused serious worries to the Nazis in some cities and in 1942 the Gestapo broke up 28 groups of them
  • The Nazis approach to them was different to other minorities - as long as they needed future industry workers and soldiers they couldn't exterminate them or put them in concentration camps so they ignored or arrested them
  • In 1944 Pirate activity escalated - they helped to shelter army deserters and escaped prisoners. They stole armaments and took part in an attack on the Gestapo during which a chief was killed - the Nazi response was to round up the ringleaders and twelve were publicly hanged
  • Neither anti Hitler groups had strong political views and were not political opponents of the Nazis but they resisted Nazi control of their lives
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