Secondary Sources

Indoctrination in Nazi Girls’ Groups

One of the more interesting aspects of Nazi youth organizations was the continued impact that membership had on the lives of children of the time  extending into adulthood and long past the fall of Nazi Germany. It’s been observed that this phenomenon was at least partially the result of political and ideological indoctrination taking place in these organizations, but also due to the sense of community established by the party during this time. Though a lot of  research has been done on boys organizations, delving into the League of German Girls (translated from Bund Deutscher Madel, BDM for short). Its effects proved to be long-lasting, as illustrated by Michelle Mouton:

“Many women recalled their time in the BDM with pleasure; for some it even stood out as the “best time of my life.” They remembered donning their uniforms, marching in political parades, and competing in sporting events. They described long nights sitting around campfires, hiking through the German hills, and working together to help with the harvest…One woman, who described her participation in the BDM passively during the interview, later asked me to turn my tape recorder back on so she could emphasize how much she had genuinely enjoyed the BDM. She then telephoned several days after the interview to reinforce for me her happy memories of the BDM.

The National Socialists used youth organizations like these to establish a base for their future. Women who were involved in the BDM, Mouton argues, would be more likely to assume traditional gender roles as mothers and housewives for the future, established Third Reich. In this way the Nazis were able to use community to entrench ideology and societal roles in the youth of its nation.

Online citation: Moulton, Michelle.  “Sports, Song, and Socialization: Women’s Memories of Youthful Activity and Political Indoctrination in the BDM.”  Journal of  Women’s History 17, no. 2 (2005).

Propaganda Inciting Hatred Against Jews

It is important to remember that before 1933 the Nazi campaign against the Jews had not been popular; despite rampant antisemitism, which cannot be denied, many German citizens saw the campaign as unnecessary (and hurting the German economy in instances such as the trade boycott called for by the SA in 1933), cruel, or mere spectacle used as a distraction from larger problems. Michael H. Kater talks about this in detail, explaining how the Hitler Youth was used as a tool through which young minds could be shaped to believe whatever they needed it to about the Jews:

“More important to the HJ leadership was exposing its charges directly to the melees of Kristallnacht, which were to serve as an example of how to treat the Jews – a first or second step in an ever escalating sequence leading up to the Holocaust. Many boys and girls, already ideologically formed, found the spectacles as fascinating as they found them justified. Some Hitler Youths struggled with it all, attempting an argument or seeking an explanation from their leaders, particularly after soul-searching discussions with parents. Others were disturbed, choosing nevertheless to close their eyes and then to accept what they thought to be unavoidable.”

By indoctrinating those in the Hitler Youth into antisemitism at a young age the Nazis accomplished several things. First, they were given impressionable minds who had not yet become entirely knowledgeable about politics or the world, and therefore were easier to persuade. Second, they once again established that there was a greater threat than their own oppression to the German people, always allowing their actions to seem justifiable. And lastly this greater outside threat encouraged unity, argues Kater, keeping the Hitler Youth tightly bonded and supporting Nazi ideals.

Citation: Michael H. Kater,  Hitler Youth, (Massachusetts: Harvard Publishing, 2004), p.63

Son’s of the Führer

“Because they knew nothing but the glorification of Hitler and Germany as they were taught in schools and the strict work ethic and behavior taught in youth groups, this generation of children was selflessly devoted to Hitler and the Nazi regime. This army of followers had a major effect on Nazi Germany politically, economically, and socially.”

Hitler Youth was vital to Nazi rule in Germany because, it lead the impressionable children to have complete faith in Hitler and his ideas. The children joined the Youth groups for many different reasons, however, this was the only group outside of school they could join. Hitler Youth  gave the children a sense of pride that they were bettering their country. Since the children were inadvertently forced to join a Hitler Youth group by the age of 10 and had to stay in a group until 18 they could never create their own thoughts of Hitler’s regime. Propaganda for the Hitler Youth movement was important to increase the number of children involved in the organization.

Citation:  “Effects of the Hitler Youth.”  University of Michigan.

Nazi Educational Propaganda 

“Education in the Third Reich served to indoctrinate students with the National Socialist world view”

Under the Nazi Regime educational programs were enacted to further propagate National Socialist views on the youth of Germany. Propaganda concealed under the guise of ‘pseudo educational science’ became an essential pillar in justifying superiority of the Aryan Race.

 “In the classroom and in the Hitler Youth, instruction aimed to produce race-conscious, obedient, self-sacrificing Germans who would be willing to die for Führer and Fatherland.”

The ultimate purpose of the new educational campaigns enacted in primary and secondary school was complete control over the youth of Germany. By instilling the concepts of race, obedience and sacrifice the Third Reich sought to craft a generation that did as told without question.

“While censors removed some books from the classroom, German educators introduced new textbooks that taught students love for Hitler, obedience to state authority, militarism, racism, and anti-Semitism.”

The Nazi Party strictly enforced the control of information through censorship and ‘pseudo science’ within academia. The ultimate purpose was to instill deep-rooted hatred for all races considered non-Aryan. Integrating this concept within the core beliefs of German youths created the mindset that achieving the “ideal Aryan nation” was acceptable under any conditions. After all under the Nazi hierarchy of racial classes those races deemed non-Aryan were only “subhuman” or “animalistic” so why should the youth of Germany worry about any races rights other than Aryan.

Online citation: “Indoctrinating Youth.” United States Holocaust Museum.  Last modified January 6, 2011. 2011

Hitler Youth Speakers and Propaganda

 “The HJ is establishing the foundation for reaching the people through the enthusiasm and conviction of the spoken word.”

The Hitler Youth (Hitler Jugend) speaker was also known as the “expert” speaker.    These children knew the thinking of the National Socialism movement and were able to speak to the public about politics.  Hitler Youth Speakers were trained on different levels and many preached National Socialism before 1 January 1933, when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany.

“By agreement between the Reichspropagandaleitung and the press and propaganda Office of the Reich Youth Office, the Hitler Youth received official permission to establish its own speaking staff, which organizationally is part of the expert speaker system of the NSDAP.”

Hitler Youth speakers were divided into 3 groups and maintained training similar to preparatory schools: Reich, Regional, or Unit (Bann) speakers.  This depended on a variety of factors but a couple were “ability and date of joining the party or HJ.”  HJ speakers attended Gau speaker schools and expert speakers attended RPL’s Reich speaker school.

“Until now, only a few have been both expert HJ speakers and speakers of the NSDAP. After the 1936-1937 Winter Campaign, however, the best of the 100 expert speakers will join the ranks of party speakers.”

In 1923 the HJ group had just over 1,000 members, over 2 million by the end of 1933, and by 1940 the group had 8 million members and rising. One can see that a key goal for the Nazi Party was to indoctrinate young Germans in National Socialist ideology.  Hitler Youth was controlled completely by the Nazis and could shape the future generation of Germans and help spread Nazi propaganda.

Online citation: Fehlberg, Erich.  “Hitler Youth Speakers.”  Calvin College, N.p, n.d.

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