Hitlerjugend

"Viewed superficially, the Hitler Youth and their female analogue seem akin to a militarized version of the prohibited Boy Scouts, with a similar emphasis upon clean living, competition, drill, team work, sport and so forth. Specialist formations, the Hitler Youth air, motorized, and naval sections, had an overt military agenda, as did the generalized training in marksmanship and other weaponry. A Hitler Youth patrol service catered for would-be policemen. While much of this sounds as if it might have been fun - particularly the opportunity to fire guns or fly gliders - the wider consequences were mixed. Some things would have remained the same if all the Hitler Youth had been Boy Scouts. There was a diminution of parental control, as children began to visit their homes between school and youth activities, with parents reduced to a bed and breakfast service. They complained: 'We no longer have rights over our children.' Further drawbacks included a succesion of children with broken arms and legs sustained during riskier excersizes, not to speak of the financial strain on households with disposable incomes of 5 Reichsmarks per week of an elaborate kit which cost up to 135.40 Reichsmarks. Whether parents minded children so clapped out by fifty-kilometer weekend hikes that they were inert for the rest of the week is uncertain. However, many dreaded their children's exposure to a not inconsiderable number of paedophiles and perverts among the older Hitler Youth leaders, for whom politics were a cover for flushed and furtive persuits. Employers discerned a decline in academic performance resulting from an over-emphasis upon physical activities. Hiter's insistance on the general relegalization of boxing in schools, and his contempt for weedy intellectuals, was partly responsible...children appeared to have become more brutal, fitter and stupider than they were." From 'The Third Reich: A New History' by Michael Burleigh.

"(Baldur von ) Schirach was named 'Youth Leader of the German Reich' in June 1933. Aping the tactics of his elder party leaders, his first action was to send an armed band of fifty husky Hitler Youth men to occupy the national offices of the Reich Committee of German Youth Associations, where an old Prussian Army officer, General Vogt, head of the committee, was put to rout. Schirach next took on one of the most celebrated of German naval heros, Admiral von Trotha, who had been Chief of Staff of the High Seas Fleet in the First World War and who was now president of the Youth Associations. The venerable admiral too was put to flight and his position and organization were dissolved. Millions of dollars' worth of property, chiefly in hundreds of youth hostels scattered throughout Germany, was seized...Schirach, whose office had formerly been subordinate to the Ministry of Education, was made responsible directly to Hitler. This half-baked young man of twenty-nine, who wrote maudlin verse in praise of Hitler ('this genius grazing the stars') and followed Rosenberg in his weird paganism and Streicher in his virulent anti-Semitism, had become the dictator of youth in the Third Reich." -From 'The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich' by William L. Shirer.

Baldur von Schirach: "Even my worst enemy cannot deny the fact that I was to the young generation of the German people at all times not only the propagandist of National Socialism but also the propagandist of Goethe. A certain Herr Ziemer has submitted a lengthy affidavit against me in which he quarrels with the youth education for which I am responsible. I believe that Herr Ziemer did his work a little too superficially. In his description of German national education he should at least have taken into consideration my educational efforts designed to guide youth toward the life work of Goethe. I joined my first youth organization when I was 10 years old. I was then just the age of the boys and girls who later on entered the Jungvolk. That youth organization which I joined was the so-called "Young German League," (Jungdeutschland Bund), which Count von der Goltz had founded, a Boy Scout organization. Count von der Goltz and Haeseler, impressed by the British Boy Scout movement, had formed Pathfinder units in Germany, and one of these Pathfinder organizations was the Jungdeutschland Bund just mentioned. It played an important part in the education of German youth until about 1918 or 1919."

"Schirach, in his efforts to evade the responsibility for the education of German youth in the spirit of National Socialist ideas, made frequent references to the fact that the Hitlerjugend was a youth organization independent of the Nazi Party and the Hitlerite Government. To defend himself, the Defendant Schirach considered it both possible and relevant to refer to the great Goethe whose words 'youth itself educates young people" he quoted with open cynicism. Goethe was, of course, right when he said that "youth itself educates young people.' But he meant the healthy, normal, joyful youth, and not youth morally corrupted with the obscurantism of the Hitlerites." -General Rudenko, Chief Prosecutor for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics during the Nuremberg Trial, July 29, 1946.

Baldur von Schirach: "All modern education, of course, goes back somehow to Rousseau, be it a question of Hermann Lietz or the Boy Scouts, the Pathfinder movement or the German Wandervogel movement. At any rate, that idea of self-administration of youth in a school community gave me my idea of the self-leadership of youth. My thought was to attract the younger generation in school to ideas that Froebel had originated 80 years before. Lietz wanted to win over youth from early school days onward. I may perhaps mention very briefly that when in 1898 Lietz began his educational work, the British Major Baden-Powell was being surrounded by rebels in a South African town, and was training youngsters to scout in the woods and with this laid the groundwork for his own Boy Scout movement, and that in that same year, in 1898, Karl Fischer from Berlin-Steglitz founded the Wandervogel movement."

Baldur von Schirach: "I was interested at that time in the writings of the Bayreuth thinker, Chamberlain, in The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, in the writings of Adolf Bartels, in his Introduction to World Literature and History of German National Literature. There were works... I shall only say in one sentence that these were works which had no definite anti-Semitic tendencies, but through which anti-Semitism was drawn like a red thread. The decisive anti-Semitic book which I read at that time and the book which influenced my comrades...was Henry Ford's book, The International Jew; I read it and became anti-Semitic. In those days this book made such a deep impression on my friends and myself because we saw in Henry Ford the representative of success, also the exponent of a progressive social policy. In the poverty-stricken and wretched Germany of the time, youth looked toward America, and apart from the great benefactor, Herbert Hoover, it was Henry Ford who to us represented America."

Baldur von Schirach: "I must say that I did not become a National Socialist because of anti-Semitism but because of Socialism. I met Hitler as early as 1925. He had just left Landsberg on the Lech, his imprisonment was ended, and he came to Weimar and spoke there. It was on that occasion that I was introduced to him. The program for the national community that he developed appealed to me so enormously because in it I found on a large scale something I had experienced in a small way in the camaraderie of my youth organization. He appeared to me to be the man who would pave the way into the future for our generation. I believed that through him there could be offered to this younger generation the prospect of work, of happiness. And in him I saw the man who would liberate us from the shackles of Versailles. I am convinced that without Versailles the rise to power of Hitler would never have happened. That dictate led to dictatorship. In 1929, the man who was the then so-called Reich Leader of the National Socialist Students Union retired, and the question arose of who should be given the leadership of all the university groups. At that time Rudolf Hess, on behalf of the Fuehrer, questioned all university groups of the National Socialist University Movement and the majority of all these groups cast their vote for me to head the National Socialist Students Union. This accounts for the curious fact that I am the only Party leader who was elected into the Party leadership. That is something that has otherwise never occurred in the history of the Party."

Baldur von Schirach: "...in 1931 Hitler asked me whether I would like to assume the leadership of the National Socialist Youth Organization. This included youth cells, then the Hitler Youth and the National Socialist Students Organization, which also was in existence at that time. Several men had already tried their hand at the leadership of these organizations: the former Oberstfuehrer SA Leader Pfeffer, the Reichsleiter Buch, actually without much result. I agreed and became then Reich Youth Leader of the NSDAP, temporarily a member of the staff of the Oberst SA Leader Roehm. In that position, as Reich Youth Leader of the NSDAP in the staff of Roehm, I had the rank of an SA GruppenFuehrer and kept that rank also when, half a year later, I became independent in my position. That explains also the fact that I am an SA Obergruppenfuehrer. I got that rank many years later. However, I did not possess a SA uniform-even after 1933."

Baldur von Schirach: "The boys and girls paid membership fees. A part of these membership fees was kept at the so-called district leadership offices, which corresponded to the Gauleitung in the Party or to the SA Gruppenfuehrung in the SA. Another part went to the Reich Youth Leader. The Hitler Youth financed its organization with its own means...Before the seizure of power, in 1932 the Hitler Youth was already the largest youth movement of Germany. I should like to add here that the individual National Socialist youth organizations which I found when I took over my office as Reich Youth Leader were merged by me into one large unified youth movement. This youth movement was the strongest youth movement of Germany, long before we came to power. On 2 October 1932, the Hitler Youth held a meeting at Potsdam. At that meeting more than 100,000 youth from all over the Reich met without the Party's providing a single pfennig. The young people themselves contributed the means. Solely from the number of the participants, it can be seen that that was the largest youth movement."

Baldur von Schirach: "The membership in the Hitler Youth was voluntary until 1936. In 1936 the law already mentioned concerning the HJ was issued which made all the German youth members of the HJ. The stipulations for the carrying out of that law, however, were issued only in March 1939, and only during the war, in May 1940, was the thought of carrying out a German youth draft considered within the Reich Youth Leadership and discussed publicly. May I point out that my Deputy Lauterbacher, at the time when I was at the front, stated in a public meeting - I believe at Frankfurt in 1940-that now, after 97 percent of the youngest age group of youth had volunteered for the Hitler Youth, it would be necessary to draft the remaining 3 percent by a youth draft."

Baldur von Schirach: "There were, of course, parents who did not like to have their children join the HJ. Whenever I made one of my radio speeches to the parents or to the youth' many hundreds of parents sent me letters. Among these letters, there were many in which the parents voiced their objections to the HJ, or expressed their dislike for it. I always considered that a special proof of the confidence which the parents had in me. I should like to say here that never, when parents restrained their children from joining, have I exerted any compulsion or put them under pressure of any kind. In doing that I would have lost all the confidence placed in me by the parents of Germany. That confidence was the basis of my entire educational work. I believe that on this occasion I have to say also that the concept that any youth organization can be established and carried on, and successfully carried on, by coercing youth, is absolutely false."

Baldur von Schirach: "Of course, the HJ was built up on the Fuehrer Principle; only the entire form of leadership of youth differed basically from that of other National Socialist organizations. For instance, we had the custom in youth leadership of discussing frankly all questions of interest to us. There were lively debates at our district leader meetings. I myself educated my assistants even in a spirit of contradiction. Of course, once we had debated a measure and I had then given an order or a directive, that ended the debate. The youth leaders-that is the young boy and girl leaders-through years of working together and in serving the common purpose, had become a unity of many thousands. They had become friends. It is evident that in a group of that kind the carrying out of orders and directives takes place in ways entirely different from those in a military organization or in any other political organization...Leadership based on natural authority such as we had in the youth organization is something which is not alien to youth at all. Such leadership in the youth organization never degenerated into dictatorship."

Baldur von Schirach: "I have always described the uniform of the HJ as the dress of comradeship. The uniform was the symbol of a community without class distinctions. The worker's boy wore the same garb as the son of the university professor. The girl from the wealthy family wore the same garb as the child of the day laborer. Hence the uniform This uniform did not have any military significance whatsoever."

Baldur von Schirach: "Military training, in my opinion, is all training with weapons of war, and all training, which is conducted by military personnel, that is, by officers, with and without weapons of war. Pre-military education, pre-military training is, in the widest sense, all training which comes before the time of military service; in particular cases it is a special preparation for military service. We, in the Hitler Youth, were opponents of any military drills for youth We disliked such drills as not youthful. I am not giving my personal opinion here, but the opinion of thousands of my co-workers. It is a fact that I rejected the Wehrjugend (the Youth Defense Groups), which had formerly existed in Germany, and did not allow any continuation of Wehrjugend work within the HJ. I had always been strongly opposed to any soldier playing in a youth organization. With all my high esteem for the profession of an officer, I still do not consider an officer capable of leading youth because in some way or other, he will always apply the tone of the drill field and the forms of military leadership to youth. That is the reason why I did not have any officers as my assistants in the Hitler Youth. Just on account of my refusal to use officers as youth leaders, I was severely criticized by the Wehrmacht on occasion. I should like to stress that that did not come from the OKW; Field Marshal Keitel, especially, had a great deal of understanding for my ideas. However, in the Wehrmacht, now and again, criticism was heard on account of the general attitude of opposition of the Youth Leadership corps toward having officers used as leaders of a youth organization. The principle of "youth leading youth" was never broken in Germany. If I am now to answer definitively the question of whether the youth was prepared for the war and whether it was trained in a military sense, I shall have to say, in conclusion, that the main efforts of all youth work in Germany culminated in trade competition, in the trade schools, in camping, and competition in sports. Physical training, which perhaps in some way could be considered a preparation for military service, took only a very small part of our time."

Baldur von Schirach: "The question concerning pre-military or military education cannot be answered by me without describing small-caliber shooting practice. Small-caliber firing was a sport among the German youth. It was practiced on the lines laid down in the international rules for sport shooting. Small-caliber shooting, according to Article 177 of the Treaty of Versailles, was not prohibited. It states expressly in that article of the treaty that rifle clubs, sporting, and hiking organizations are forbidden to train their members in the handbag and use of war weapons. The small-caliber rifle, however, is not a war weapon. For our sport shooting we used a rifle similar to the American 22-caliber. It was used with the 22-caliber Flobert cartridge for short or long distance. I should like to say here that our entire marksmanship training and other so-called pre-military training have been collected in a manual entitled "HJ Service." That book was printed and sold not only in Germany but was also available abroad. The British Board of Education in 1938 passed judgment on that book, in the educational pamphlet, Number 109. With the permission of the Tribunal, I should like to quote briefly what was said about it in this educational pamphlet. I quote in English: "It cannot fairly be said to be in essence a more militaristic work than any thoroughgoing, exhaustive, and comprehensive manual of Boy Scout training would be. Some forty pages are, to be sure, devoted to the theory and practice of shooting small-bore rifle and air gun, but there is nothing in them to which exception can reasonably be taken, and the worst that one can say of them is that they may be confidently recommended to the notice of any Boy Scout wishing to qualify for his marksmanship badge." As to the mental attitude of the Hitler Youth, I can only say that it was definitely not militaristic...Not a single German boy, until the war, had been trained with a war weapon, a military weapon, be it an infantry rifle, machine gun, or infantry gun; nor with hand grenades in any form..."

Baldur von Schirach: "...Between Field Marshal Keitel and myself, according to my recollection, there was no discussion concerning that agreement, but I believe we arranged that by correspondence. And I should just like to state that during the entire time from 1933 to 1945, only one or two conversations of about half an hour took place between Field Marshal Keitel and me. The agreement, however, resulted from the following considerations: We endeavored in the Hitler Youth, and it was also the endeavor of the leading men in the Wehrmacht, to take nothing into our training which belonged to the later military training. However, in the course of time, the objection was raised on the part of the military, that youth should not learn anything in its training which later would have to be corrected in the Wehrmacht. I am thinking, for instance, of the compass. The Army used the infantry compass; the Hitler Youth, in cross-country sports, used compasses of various kinds. It was, of course, quite senseless that youth leaders should train their boys, for instance, to march according to the Bezar compass if later, in their training as recruits, the boys had to learn something different. The designation and the description of the terrain should also be given according to the same principles in the Hitler Youth as in the Army, and so this agreement was made by which, I believe, thirty or sixty thousand HJ leaders were trained in cross-country sports. In these cross-country sports no training with war weapons was practiced."

Baldur von Schirach: "Hitler took very little interest in educational questions. As far as education was concerned, I received next to no suggestions from him. The only time when he did make a real suggestion as far as athletic training was concerned was in 1935, I believe, when he told me that I should see to it that boxing should become more widespread among youth. I did so, but he never attended a youth boxing match. My friend Von Tschammer-Osten, the Reich Sports Leader, and I tried very often to persuade him to go-to other sporting events, particularly to skiing contests and ice hockey championships in Garmisch, but apart from the Olympic Games, it was impossible to get him to attend."

Baldur von Schirach: "Youth hikes, individually and in groups; also the construction of more and more youth hostels. In one year alone, more than 1,000 homes and youth hostels were built blame in Germany. Then there was additional professional training, and then what I called the "Labor Olympics," namely, the annual Reich trade contests, voluntary competition between all youth of both sexes who wanted to participate. In fact millions participated. Then our great Reich sports contests, championships in every type of sport, our cultural work, and the development of our singing groups, our acting groups, youth concert choirs, and the development of our youth libraries, and then something which I mentioned in connection with combating the migration from the country, the Rural Service with its rural help groups, those youths, who for idealistic reasons were working in the country, even town boys-to show the farmer boys that the country was really more beautiful than the city, that even a city boy will give up his life in the city temporarily to devote himself to the land and to tilling the soil. Then, as a great communal accomplishment of youth, I must mention the dental improvement and the regular medical examinations."

Baldur von Schirach: "I had that Christmas gift made for, I believe 80,000 to 100,000 soldiers and sent to them at the front as late as 1944. I did not hear anything directly from Bormann, but he suddenly asked for 10 copies of that book; and I was informed by people who were near the Fuehrer in his headquarters that he used that book in some way in order to incite Hitler against me. I should like to add that at all times of my life, at any rate insofar as I have written poetry, I have expressed myself in the same way as in this poem. Also in the collection of poems, The Flag of the Persecuted, which I do not have here unfortunately but which was distributed among the youth in a very large edition, where my revolutionary poems can be found, there are poems of a Christian content which, however, were not reprinted by the Party press in the newspapers and therefore did not become so well-known as my other verses. But I should like to express quite clearly that I was an opponent of confessional youth organizations, and I wish to make it just as clear that I was not an opponent of the Christian religions..."

Baldur von Schirach: "...As far as my religious attitude is concerned, I always identified myself with the thoughts expressed in Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre about religions in general and the importance of the Christian religion in particular. I should like to say here that in my work as an educator I was mistaken in holding the opinion that positive Christianity existed outside of the Church. However, I never made any anti-Christian statements; and I should like to say here for the first time in public that in the closest circles of the Hitler Youth I have always expressed a very unequivocal belief in the person and teachings of Christ. Before educators of the Adolf Hitler School-a fact which naturally was never allowed to come to the knowledge of the Party Chancellery-I spoke about Christ as the greatest leader in world history and of the commandment to "Love thy neighbor" as a universal idea of our culture. I believe that there are also several testimonials by youth leaders about that in your possession, Mr. Attorney."

Baldur von Schirach: "...The patrol service was one of the special units of the HJ which I forgot to mention yesterday. The patrol service was a youth service for keeping order. It consisted of outstandingly decent lads who had no police duties-I now refer to documentary reports which I procured-but who had to supervise the general behavior of the young people, examine their uniforms, control the visits of the boys to the taverns; and it was their duty to inspect the HJ hostels for cleanliness and neatness, to supervise the hiking expeditions of the young people and the youth hostelries in the country. They stood guard and were on order duty at mass meetings and demonstrations. They watched over encampments and accompanied the convoys. They were employed in the search for youths who were lost. They gave advice to traveling youth, attended to station service, were supposed to protect young people from criminal elements, and, above all, to protect national property-that is, woods, fields, for instance-and to see that they were safe from fires, et cetera. Since Himmler might make trouble for this section of the youth organization, I was interested in having the Police recognize my patrol service; for in my idea of the State youth as a youth state, the Police should not be employed against the youth, but these young people should keep order among themselves. That this principle was a sound one can be judged from the immense decline in juvenile delinquency from 1933 up to the outbreak of the war."

Baldur von Schirach: "…the only weapon carried by the Hitler Youth was the camping knife, the equivalent of a Boy Scout's bowie knife of the Jungvolk Pimpfe (boys of 10-14 years of age)."

Baldur von Schirach: "The Adolf Hitler Schools were founded as scholastic units of the HJ. They were founded with the means which Dr. Ley placed at my disposal when I told him of my plans for the training I had envisaged. These schools were not intended to Main leaders for the Party exclusively but served to prepare the youth for all the professions. I myself often talked to these boys on their graduation and I always told them "You can choose any profession you like. Your training in this school carries no obligation, either moral or otherwise, to become a political leader." De facto, relatively few political leaders emerged from the Adolf Hitler Schools. Very many of the boys became doctors, officials, et cetera. I cannot quote any figures from memory, but the communications I have received from the young people, including statements from teachers in the Adolf Hitler Schools, show their attitude towards this point of the Indictment. And I should like to ask that at least 50 to 60 of these numerous affidavits, which confirm all that I have said, be submitted in support of my declarations."

Source note: The maroon-colored text above is quoted sequentially from the Nuremberg testimony of Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach, May 23-24, 1946.

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