Hitler Youth

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HJ general flag (allgemeine Flagge)

The Hitler Youth (German: Hitlerjugend, often abbreviated as HJ in German) was the youth organisation of the NSDAP. Its origins dated back to 1922. The Hitler Youth was divided regionally and according to age groups.


HJ poster by Ludwig Hohlbein
Standard for the Reichsjugendführer
Wehrsport (paramilitary sports) was an important part of HJ and DJ, but also for youth organizations around the world, for example the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League, the NS Ungdomsfylking, the American Boy Scouts (ABS), and others.
Flieger-HJ in Bad Honnef, 1940; It started with lessons and the building of professional models, followed by lessons in gliding, and some even in motorized flight.
HJ lads who had helped to dig field works around Aachen, etc., being personally commended by Field-Marshal Walther Model, October 1944

From 1933 until 1945, the HJ was the sole official youth organisation in Germany. It's critics say the Hitler Youth was a "paramilitary" and "militaristic" organization. However it was no different to being a school military cadet or in other similar organisations across the world.

For males, there were the "German Youngfolk in the Hitler Youth" (German: Deutsches Jungvolk in der Hitler Jugend or DJ, also DJV) for those aged 10 to 14, and the "Hitler Youth" (HJ) proper for those aged 14 to 18. For females, there were the "Young Girls' League" (German: Jungmädelbund; JM) for those aged 10 to 14 and the "League of German Girls" (German: Bund Deutscher Mädel, abbreviated as BDM) for those aged 14 to 18.

In 1938, a third section was introduced, the "Faith and Beauty Society" (German: BDM-Werk Glaube und Schönheit), which was voluntary and open to those aged 17 to 21.

These age categories were not unlike the international Boy Scouts (and Girl Guides) Movement which had Wolf Cubs from age 8 until 12, when they became Boy Scouts until 15, then Senior Scouts until 18, thereafter Rover Scouts until 21. Originally this was a quasi-military organisation where uniformed boys were taught marching, survival techniques, first aid, camping, Morse code and semaphore and a host of other things. They were not, however, taught weapon skills.


Admission to the Hitler Youth officially took place at the age of 10. In the beginning, the children could come in at any time. However, since 1936, with the introduction of the year-by-year format, admissions only took place once a year. The date was symbolically set as 20 April, Adolf Hitler's birthday. Major promotion drives took place in the previous weeks. The registration points were open late so that children could register accompanied by their parents.

The new recruits had to complete a probationary period, at the end of which they had to take the “Pimpfen” or “Jungmädel” test. Only then did they become full members and, in addition to the uniform, were also allowed to wear the badges and – only the boys – the coveted HJ tracking knife.

In the Jungvolk and the Jungmädel, the children were obliged to take part in the service twice a week. In addition, they were able to take advantage of additional offerings such as model building or choirs, mainly in cities. As early as the age of eleven, young people were able to take on their first small leadership positions, for which they were recommended by higher-ranking leaders. For some, the tasks involved were a chore; for others they were recognition and incentive for further advancement. However, the vast majority of members of the Hitler Youth did not take on any extraordinary functions. Many Jungvolk leaders did not join the Hitler Youth at the age of 14, but instead retained their positions. This was particularly true for senior students who wanted to avoid the Hitler Youth, which was considered harsh. All others were transferred to the higher divisions in the spring of each year.

Special units

In addition to the regular HJ, there were special units such as the aviation (Flieger-HJ), naval (Marine-HJ), motor (Motor-HJ), telecommunications (Nachrichten-HJ) and rider youth (Reiter-HJ; until 1939). Feldscher-HJ, a kind of mid-level medical practitioner unit, had been around since the beginning of 1934. Under the direction of a HJ-Ban (command area) doctor, the boys met regularly in a hospital. There they acquired basic medical knowledge, especially first aid. In 1938, the HJ-Streifendienst (maintaining internal discipline in the Hitler Youth[1]) was formed, in 1936, the Spielscharen der HJ (theater and music performances).


During World War II both branches of the Hitler Youth, along with the rest of the nation, engaged in supportive war effort activities. In the last stages of the war HJ boys were to be found in a wide variety of quasi-military roles such as dispatch runners and riders, and, in 1945, directly supported military units in a fighting capacity. USA General Patton remarked that they were "ferocious opponents".


Following the surrender of the Wehrmacht on 8 May 1945, the organisation ceased to function. On 10 October 1945, it was formally outlawed by the victorious occupying Allies along with other NSDAP organisations. Under German law today, the Hitler Youth is an "unconstitutional organisation" and the distribution or public use of its symbols, except for educational or research purposes, are not permitted.

Reich Youth Leader

On 30 October 1931, Hitler appointed Baldur von Schirach as the Reich Youth Leader (Reichsjugendführer) of the NSDAP. In 1933, after the transfer of state power to Hitler, all youth organizations in Germany were brought under Schirach's control and he was designated the Jugendführer des Deutschen Reiches (English: Youth Leader of the German Reich) on 17 June. When Schirach was named Gauleiter of the Reichsgau Vienna on 8 August 1940, Artur Axmann succeeded him as Reichsjugendführer. Axmann had served as Schirach's deputy since 1 May 1940.

Nuremberg show trials

Baldur von Schirach was found guilty at the International Military Tribunal, but not for his Hitler Youth involvement. Artur Axmann was sentenced to three years and three months by a "de-Nazification" court.

Ranking structure

Ranking structure of the HJ with theoretical equivalents of army, navy, SS rune.png and SA ranks, although these comparisons only really apply to adult members:

See also


Further reading

  • Through Innocent Eyes – The Girls of the Hitler Youth by Cynthia A. Sandor, Oldsmar, Florida, 2012. ISBN 978-0-9997550-0-6

External links


  1. The HJ-Streifendienst supervised general behavior, uniform, visiting bars, checking the HJ hostels for cleanliness and order, monitoring youth hikes and youth hostels, steward and security service at major events, tent camp police, transport escort, search for missing persons, investigation and investigation into official misconduct and criminal acts. It's area of ​​responsibility also included advice and help for wandering youth, train station service, protection of young people from criminal elements, combating juvenile crime, protection of national assets from damage by HJ tour groups and so on.