Die hier gezeigten Abzeichen sind zu edukativen Zwecken dargestellt, aus diesem Grund sind sie nicht abgedeckt. Weiterhin möchte ich auf den folgenden Discliamer aufmerksam machen:
Disclaimer: Die hier gezeigten Abbildungen aus der Zeit des "Dritten Reiches", u.a. mit dem damals obligatorischen "Hakenkreuz", dienen der Berichterstattung über Vorgänge des Zeitgeschehens, der staatsbürgerlichen Aufklärung sowie Forschung und Lehre (§ 86a, 86 StGB)
„The one who wants to rule Germany has to have the support of the youth.“ - this statement was made by Adolf Hitler in his „Mein Kampf“.
The Nationalsocialists embraced this motto making it one of their ambitions to lead Germany´s youth and to educate them in their political believes. At the end of 1932 the Hitlerjugend (Hitleryouth, short HJ) counted less than 100.000 members. In September 1933 they were 1.5 million strong. Other youth organisations, except the catholic ones, were simply taken over by the HJ and by 1939 every German between the age of 10 and 18 years had to be a member of the Hitlerjugend by law.
Education by parents, school, church and state was reduced to education by the party. Baldur von Schirach was in charge and even given the power by law to exempt parents and school. Hitler was to become more than an idol to the young Germans by Schirach´s doings and words like:
„Serving Adolf Hitler, the Führer, is serving Germany and serving Germany is serving God!“
In 1933 the HJ was still based on loose formations and groups. The NSDAP soon changed that and a structural foundation was brought in - „Youth has to be lead by youth,“. Disciplin became harsher and different kind of courses educated the young boys very much in the spirit of Lord Baden Powell, to do a good deed a day. Comradeship, the uniforms, the drill and basic outdoor exercises were very popular with the youngsters.
At the age of 10 years a boy would join the „Jungvolk“ as a Pimpf after passing a test. In this test the boy had to recite nationalsocialist basic believes, all verses of the Horst Wessel song, read maps, take part in an outdoor exercise and collect old paper, metall or any other goods of value for the war effort. Furthermore a physical test had to be passed. Running 60 meters within 12 seconds, jumping a distance of 2,75 meters and taking part in a one and half day long march. On passing these tests the boy would receive a dagger and become a full member of the HJ.
Practical training in fixing bicycles or shooting for example, was to educate the young boy up to the age of 14 years, then he would join the „real HJ“. Most of the 14 to 18 year old youngsters had already left school to work or do an apprenticeship, having had 4 years of drill and military style exercises in the Jungvolk.
The female equivalent was the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM). The activities of the 10 to 14 year old Jungmädel was much the same as for the boys, except for the shooting and military drills, which were replaced by duties of social nature and female activities like knitting.
„ Grandmother had bought the black skirt, the white blouse, the black scarf and the brown leather knot – symbols of honour. The scarf and the knot were handed in, to receive them back in a ceremonial hour. Flags flying in the wind, everyone standing in one line, the oath of truth. They acknowledged me as a member, although all of this did not mean anything to me. Just a lot of noise, a show which I did not want to analyse. I went to one meeting, than I just did not go anymore. No one came around to fetch me. Obviously even the HJ had more important things to do in 1940.“
The impressions the people had of the BDM were not always as pure and beautiful as the „Schönheit und Glaube“ movement ( an extra BDM group that was voluntary for girls 17 through 21 years of age, not mandatory )wanted them to be. While the press advertised the blond, long haired beauty in the late 30´s, others made up slogans like:
BDM = Bald Deutsche Mutter – soon the be a German motherBDM = Bedarfsartikel Deutscher Männer – commodity of German men
The reputation of the BDM was clouded when after the Reichsparteitag of 1936 the rumour was spread that nearly 900 girls between the age of 15 to 18 years returned home pregnant.
The outbreak of war did not surprise the majority of young poeple, in fact the youngsters organised in the HJ and BDM were better prepared than most of the adults. The Hitlerjungen and Jungmädel did not know about the bad experiences the older generations had made in WW I, they greeted the war in the spirit they had been educated in, taking it like a big adventure as the following lines reflect:
„I did not want to become a Hitlerjunge now – no, I wanted to be a soldier: diving down in a Me 109 like Major Moelders, like Günther Prien in a U-Boat heading for England, like Guderian riding a tank towards the north sea or be like Rommel in Africa. Instead of comic strips, me and my friends bought cheap „Groschenhefte“ (simplistic, cheap novels) containing war stories. The horror of war did not frighten us boys, it attracted us like a magnet. The fact that our fathers were called to do their duties did not worry us and a hero´s death for the fatherland was part of the whole affair, as most of the songs we sung in the HJ had taught us.“
The reality of the „Kriegseinsatz“, the duty the youngsters were called upon, was far different from their heroic dreams. Sammelaktionen (collections) was one activity the Jungvolk and Jungmädel took part in. Collecting metall, bones, woolen winter clothes, blankets, books, sports equipment or whatever the party rquired at the time. The Kriegseinsatz of the older HJ and BDM contained different duties, jobs usually done by grown-ups, especially from 1943 onwards.
They boys worked as messengers or guards for party officials. They worked along girls as air raid wardens. Boys did their duties as firemen and took over postmen´s positions. They supported the police, handed out ration cards, helped out during black-outs and at railway stations. The boys would be employed by the Wehrmacht as couriers, they were employed on support lines and helped operating telephones. Boys and girls alike worked for businesses transporting goods and selling them. Furthermore they had to do public services like clearing pavements and roads of snow and ice in winter. Girls would be employed in social areas like helping mothers with chidren in their homes, working in Kindergardens or old peoples homes. Another domain for the girls was helping in the medical field as in camps and hospitals. In 1940 the number of girls working in households was 318.782. The Red Cross had 64.106 young female citizens helping them and 60.263 did their duty in field hospitals. 107.185 girls worked for the railway wellfare centers.„Kriegsehrendienst“, honourable duty of war contained the support of war widow´s, refugees and homeless.
In 1944 the NSDAP propaganda machine targetted the Hitlerjugend proclaiming the year to be the „Jahr der Kriegsfreiwilligen“, the year of volunteers for war. In 1945 whole school classes were called for their duty - „voluntary“.
Melitta Maschmann, BDM Führerin, recalled:
„ I saw a row of dead Flakhelfer laying next to each other in a suburb of Berlin. The air raid had just finished. The Flak that those boys did their duty on had been hit several times. I went into a barrack room where the survivors collected up. There the young boys were sitting on the ground, faces white and destorted by the gruesome experience they just had. The wounded were in the next room. One of them, a boy with a round childlike face tried to errect himself to attention when the officer escorting me asked him if he was in pain. The boy answered:
„ Yes, but that is not important. Germany has to win!“