In 1926 another youth organisation
was created in Germany
: Hitler Jugend
(HJ), or "Hitler Youth
". HJ was formed as a part of the SturmAbteilung
(SA) and the members wore uniforms similar to the SA. HJ was formed on a military model, like most youth organisations. Hitler wanted them to be "quick like greyhounds
, tough like leather
, and hard like Krupp steel
HJ was an organisation for children of age 14-18. In 1933 all other youth organisations were banned, except for Catholic organisations, but they too were banned in 1936, and it became compulsory for all youth to enlist.
Hitler Jugend included army training for its members. All boys were given firearms training. Those who excelled were sent to sharpshooter and sniper schools. In order to maintain the interest of the boys, the Hitler Youth had many special branches. Branches included the Flieger Hitler Jugend (Flying Hitler Youth), Motor Hitler Jugend and Marine Hitler Jugend. These would provide the youth with skills in those departments. Later on in the war, when Germany was running low on soldiers, youths were sent into battle, often little prepared.
The best known example is the 12th SS-Panzer Division Hitlerjugend. It was created
"...to create a new division consisting exclusively of volunteers from the Hitler Youth born in the year 1926. The Division was to be a symbol of the willingness of the German youth to sacrifice itself and of its will to achieve total victory." .
They fought the Canadians at Normandy, and lost only 6 tanks to the Canadians 28. Many of the children were not yet 17. The division suffered many losses, and most of its members eventually died in the war. Later on in the war more children were sacrificed to the war effort.
In October 1944, all males aged 16 to 60 were required to join the Volkssturm, or Home Guard. The Hitler Youth members were the backbone of the Volkssturm. In April 1945, 5,000 Hitler Youths were detailed to defend the Havel River in Berlin. Their mission was to hold the bridgehead until Wenck's army could relieve them. Unfortunately, Wenck's army existed only in Hitler's mind. After 5 days of fighting there were only 500 boys who were physically capable of fighting.
A person who belonged to HJ said:
"It was a very structured organization, with orders originating at the top in Berlin. Local youth groups carried out those commands and, in many cases, behaved even more drastically in order to show how good and dedicated to Hitler's cause
"Like many dictators, Hitler and his immediate cohorts believed that it was vital to convert young children to their cause and beliefs. Basically that theory still
holds true today. If you can capture the minds of young children and persuade them to become
dedicated to your cause, your theory of the truth and your theory of what is right and
wrong, then you can hold the whole country captive and you have complete control. That is what
the Nazis were
after in establishing the Hitler Youth."