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Impact of Hitler Youth in class

The youth organisation of the NSDAP, the Hitler Youth, vied with teachers for authority. More and more children joined the Hitler Youth and wore its uniform in class. Since 1936 membership was compulsory.

Devotion and allegiance

Group photograph of 11 boys in Hitler Youth uniforms. Manipulatively, Hitler Youth fostered devotion to Hitler, race consciousness, and the allegiance pledge included a promise to serve both State and Führer as future soldiers. In essence, the complete indoctrination of children into Nazi ideology was the ultimate goal.
© National Holocaust Centre and Museum

The propaganda image of the Hitler Youth as a friendly, well-disciplined youth group comparable to the boy scouts is insidious and deceptive. Nazi ideology had its effect and Ruth David describes how it felt to be at the receiving end of it.
© National Holocaust Centre and Museum

Power and control

The Hitler Youth were detached if not hostile to academic learning. They strove to shape a new generation characterised by physical strength, heroic courage and devoted to the creation of the “people’s community”.  Antisemitism was central to their beliefs.

Hitler Youth humiliated and abused Jewish children in class to help forge a superior “German identity”. They represented power in stark contrast to the supposedly inferior “Jewish” other. In addition, this humiliation and abuse served to warn what could happen to those who did not belong to the community and were excluded.

A photograph of a Hitler Youth uniform.

The uniform of the Hitler Youth – since 1936 the official state youth organisation – could be worn in class. The uniform is based on the one worn by the SA, which considered itself an informal force of public order like the police or army. What does the presence of uniformed children mean for the authority of the teacher in class?
© National Holocaust Centre and Museum

Weapons and harrassment

As a former sub-organisation of the SA the Hitler Youth was shaped by continuous street fights. Now they carried the terror into schools, harassing and beating up Jewish children in school and on the street.

The Hitler Youth dagger – until 1938 inscribed with the slogan ‘Blood and Honour’ – was an optional part of the Hitler Youth uniform. Since access to a real knife formed part of the attraction of joining the Hitler Youth, the majority of its members owned one. Consider how the possession of a knife would influence the impact of Hitler Youth in class.
© National Holocaust Centre and Museum