Young People

Youth Movements

1. Hitler knew that loyalty from young people was essential if the Nazis were to remain strong.

2. Youth movements were a way of teaching children Nazi ideas - so they would be loyal to the Nazi Party when they grow up.

  • The Hitler Youth was founded in 1926. Boys aged 14 and over were recruited to the movement. It became compulsory in 1936 and lasted until 1945.
  • Boys wore military-style uniforms and took part in physical exercise preparing for war. High-achieving boys might be sent to Hitler Schools to be trained as loyal Nazi leaders.
  • They also went on camping trips and held sports competitions. Some of those who took part said the organisation was fun, made them feel valued and encouraged a sense of responsibility.
  • The League of German maidens was the female branch of the Hitler Youth, aimed at girls between 14 and 18.
  • Girls were trained in domestic skills like sewing and cooking.
  • Sometimes they took part in physical activities like camping and hiking. This gave girls new opportunities that were normally reserved for boys.

At the end of the 1930s, attendence decreased due to the military focus.

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Education across Germany was 'Nazified'

1. Education in schools meant learning Nazi propaganda. Most teachers joined the Nazi Teachers' Association and were trained in Nazi methods. Children had to report teachers who did not use them.

2. Subjects were rewritten to fit in with Nazi ideas. Children were taught to be anti-Semitic (prejudiced against Jews) - for example, Biology courses stated that Jews were biologically inferior to 'Aryans'. History courses explained that WWI was lost because of Jews and communists.

3. PE became more important for boys to prepare them for joining the army. They sometimes even played games with live ammunition.

4. In universities, students burned anti-Nazi and Jewish books, and Jewish lecturers were sacked. Jewish teachers were also dismissed from public schools.

German children were always being bombarded with Nazi propaganda. Erika Mann, a German who opposed the Nazis, described Nazi education in Germany. 'Every child says 'Heil Hitler!' from 50 50 to 150 times a day...[it] is required by law; if you meet a friend on the way to school, you say it; study periods are opened and closed with [it]...[The Nazis'] supremacy over the German child is...complete'.

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German Youth to Fighting the War

1. During WWII, members of the Hitler Youth contributed to the war effort - for example, helping with air defence work, farm work and collecting donations for Nazi charities.

2. Towards the end of the war, many Hitler Youth members ended up fighting alongside adults. They were known for being fierce and fanatical fighters.

The Nazis' attempts to impose their ideology on children weren't always effective.

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