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How successful were the Nazis' in their aim to control and influence young people?

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Hitler Youth Policy Exam Question Q. How successful were the Nazis' in their aim to control and influence young people? The Nazis were not totally successful in their aim and there are areas where young people did not conform in the way Hitler wanted. There have been different interpretations of the success of youth policy with the idea that youth policy was only successful in the short term. The way of assessing success is to see how far the Nazis' succeeded in the physical, moral and mental education of German youth according to the principles of National Socialism. The Nazis managed over the years to massively increase the membership of the Hitler Youth, with 107,956 members in 1932 rising to 6,000,000 + in 1936. The increase in membership is a success because they have managed to increase the membership of a National Socialist youth organisation. From memoirs is can be seen that boys enjoyed the 'comradeship, loyalty and honour' and the ideas of community, which shows that the Nazis had managed to target the youths morals. ...read more.


However, it could be argued that they were doing so only for future personal gain which goes against the Nazis' idea of the community coming first. The Nazis had also controlled and influenced young people through changes in the school system and the curriculum, with changes to subjects and resources, for example Mein Kampf became a history text book. There is evidence of failure as in childhood reflections a man remembers only taking quotes from Mein Kampf and never reading it. There is also evidence that young people did not really understand Nazi ideology. However they confirmed through apathy and natural obedience because they had been politically programmed in school and youth organisations; they obeyed orders, stood to attention and stopped thinking when 'Fatherland' was mentioned and Germany's honour and greatness. This can be argued a success because although they didn't understand ideology they still conformed because they had been successfully controlled and influenced to do so. It can be argued further that children who conformed through fear; children who answered questions falsely because they were too scared to tell the truth, also show Nazi success because they knew what the correct answer was and said it because they had been controlled and influenced successfully. ...read more.


There were also young people who although there was the constant threat of discovery and punishment formed opposition groups to the Nazi ones. There were groups of Edelweiss Pirates who wore the Edelweiss Flower as a pin on their collar. Some of these groups formed links with the KPD and began attacking Hitler Youth patrols with the slogan 'Eternal War on Hitler Youth'. Another opposition group was Swing Kids who were generally anti politics and listened to the American Black and Jewish jazz and swing. Some youths had hostile attitudes and chose to graffiti walls with slogans such as 'Down with Hitler'. These slogans were cleaned off but often returned within a few days. This is evidence that the Nazis failed to influence and control all the Nazi youth population. As there is evidence of failure and success, the Nazis were not completely triumphant in their aim to control and influence young people, but neither were they completely unsuccessful. They had indoctrinated a large proportion of children who were mesmerised by the criticism of the treaty of Versailles and who were mesmerised by the national socialist movement. They enjoyed the message that they were the new creators of a new strong Germany. ...read more.

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