German opposition to the Nazis 1939-45

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Opposition 1939-45

Youth Movements:

  • Most Young people in Germany were loyal members of either the Hitler Youth or German Girl’s League- Both compulsory as of 1939.Wrong to believe the regime won over entire Nazi youth.
  • Some youngsters objected to strong indoctrination and discipline, preferring instead to form non-conformist youth groups and gangs who engaged in protest against the N.R.

Edelweiss Pirates:

  • Emerged late 1930s, located in the working class districts in a number of west German towns: Dusseldorf, Cologne most notably.
  • Consisted primarily of 12-18 year old boys who had no distinctive political ideology but great antipathy towards the grim uniformity of the Hitler Youth and the general lack of freedom in Nazi Germany.
  • Spontaneous movement.
  • “Eternal war on the Hitler Youth”. Breaking free from Nazi Discipline, the Edelweiss Pirates went on long hikes, carrying rucksacks. They took camping excursions at a time where the N.R was placing higher strain on travel limitations. Sing Parodies of Hitler Youth / tell dirty jokes.  
  • It was difficult for the Nazi authorities to distinguish their behaviour from less politically challenging forms of juvenile delinquency.
  • It was during the war years, 1939-45, with a reduction in parental supervision and the severe disruption to local leisure facilities caused by increased allied raids that the ‘subversive’ activities of the Edelweiss Pirates grew markedly.
  • In the cities, they took part in pitched battles against the Hitler Youth and in the subways, daubed slogans such as, “Down with Hitler – We want Freedom”.
  • Shielded army deserters. Engaged with other groups, communists, in acts of industrial sabotage. Shows how youthful rebellion increasingly turned to active resistance.
  • Gestapo crackdown on Pirates. December 1942, 739 Pirates were arrested in 4 major German cities. Placed in re-education camps designed to instill conformity to Nazi Ideals.
  • 1944 – SS “Decree on the combating of Youth Gangs”. Cologne public hangings.
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Swing and Jazz Movements:

  • Desire to listen to banned American music, particularly swing popularised by the Glenn Millar Orchestra, and jazz by Louis Armstrong. Himmler highly opposed to these movements.
  • Illegal dances attended by up to 6,000 youths. Created illegal clubs at which ‘hot-jazz’ was played. The Harlem Club
  • Nazi imposed ban on public dances 1940.
  • No burning desire to offer political resistance to N.R, but rather by youth exuberance to have a good time. “We are not against the Nazis, they are against us.”
  • Interpreted as a lack of patriotism. Sought a culturally permissive society.
  • ...

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