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What was the reaction of young people to the Hitler Youth/BDM ?

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History Coursework: What was the reaction of young people to the Hitler Youth/BDM ? Section A: Plan of the investigation The youth was an essential part in Hitler's plan for creating a new Volksgemeinschaft; virtually from birth German children were to be brought up as "good, loyal National Socialists", who strongly believed in the Nazi ideology/superiority of the Arian race. He loved the idea of a strong, nationalist German youth and tried successfully to impose his racist ideology on them. As the war deteriorated for Germany, attitude changed rapidly to the negative; the reaction of the youth to the HJ was additionally influenced by factors such as the quality of local leadership of the organization and social background. Nevertheless, how did the German youth react towards this involvement in their daily lives? To investigate the question of the overall reaction of the German youth I will use a variety of secondary written sources to give me the background information: amongst these I will explore a number of primary sources, including my grandmother Marianne G�tz, a former BDM-member and written accounts by eyewitnesses. (162 words) Section B: Summary of evidence "We are rotten to the marrow. But my magnificent youngsters! Are there finer ones in the world? With them I can make a new world"1 Hitler was a strong believer in the power of a youth converted to nationalism. In order to convert a character whose former education was predominated by the traditional, and possibly hostile influences of parents and the Church, the Nazis used two major institutions: the school system and, in particular, youth groups. Additionally they also made sure that former members of such organizations would join further Nazi organisations, such as RAD and DAF. When the Nazis founded the Hitler Youth/BDM in 1922, it promised to the German youth tension, comradeship, excitement and a great future in a great Germany 2. ...read more.


elite schools which were to produce the future government and military leadership of the Nazi state 20; these gave the youth, humiliated by 1st WW and inflation, new perspectives and hope for a high position in the Nazi elite class and so new motivation. The Nazis tried rigorously to suppress any resistance and any youth opposition, including any 'renegade' youth groups, as a Concentration camp especially made for troublemaking youths was introduced in 1940 in M�ringen next to G�ttingen21; in the 3rd Reich rebelliousness was regarded as resistance against the regime and hence a crime. Looking at the membership numbers of resistance groups like the Swing Youth, the White Rose or the Edelweisspiraten, it becomes clear that their numbers were in proportion extremely small. Hitler distinguished between the different formations22, which had different motivations. Significant is that the members of the Swing Youth and also other resistance groups were predominately of upper/bourgeois origin23; this supports the theory that one's reaction towards the HJ was influenced by the social background one was coming from. Apart from this passive resistance, which obviously did not express the attitude of the majority, most of the young people found themselves not in a position of judging the situation in an objective manner. Nevertheless, as Germany suddenly went to war the overall mood in the Hitler Youth organizations changed; it became clear that the mindless motto of the HJ "F�hrer, command - we follow!"24 would have a malign influence upon the lives of the youth. At the very beginning, the youths were even encouraged to join Hitler organizations as things seem to go well; however, as events went more negatively, the attitude changed rapidly and the majority of the German youth had much more in mind to save their own lives rather than dying for the 'fatherland'. The worst case that could have happened to a young retiring HJ-recruit was to be picked up by the Waffen-SS, which always looked for new 'material'.25; for some youths though it was an honour to join the SS and they were not scared of it, as my primary source Theodor G�tz. ...read more.


One must distinguish between a) cliques of an asocial-criminal character, b) cliques of an oppositional-political character and c) cliques with a liberal-individualistic outlook (...)" 23 The Racial State: Germany 1933-1945, Michael Burleigh&Wolfgang Wippermann, Cambridge University Press quoted from page 220 "(...) 'Swing Youth were young people of mainly bourgeois origin (...)" 24 My grandmother, Marianne G�tz, quoted from an interview as she said: "(...) The sentence "F�hrer, Command - We the follow!" was everywhere, at Nazi celebration or march; nobody knew at the beginning what consequences this could have malign influence on the lives of the (male) members of the HJ later, as war became cruel reality (...)" 25 Again my uncle Theodor G�tz who here attempted to explain to me the general mood of the German youth ( straight after he and his school class were forced to join a Flak-squad: "(...) It was quite interesting for us, but we were not amazed anymore, - in secret one was already talking about the lost war! However we still applied to the Wehrmacht as Kriegsoffiziers - bewerber (volunteer) - me also to the communication-service - always with having in my mind: not to the Waffen-SS.(...)" 26 In the last days of the 3rd Reich (1945) Hitler formed the so-called "Volkssturm" troops which mainly consisted of old WW1 veterans (age >50) and extremely young youths (age <16). 27 Illustrierte Geschichte der Hitler Jugend 1922-1945; Brenda Ralph Lewis, Tosa Verlag 2000 p.18 28 My grandmother, Marianne G�tz: "(...) the social pressure was enormous; all the others in my class went to the organizations had regularly a laugh about me, the girl that stayed alone in school on Saturdays with Jewish girls(...)" 29 Illustrierte Geschichte der Hitler Jugend 1922-1945; Brenda Ralph Lewis, Tosa Verlag 2000, on page 32 a description of the content of the movie and how it affected the minds of the youth. 1 Hans Kossmann History SL U6 Internal Assessment ...read more.

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