World War II Home Front: Youth Groups


Figure 1.--Here is an issue of the British "Picture Post". We do not yet have the date, but was probably during the War, perhps 1944. Nor do we know how the cover image was developec by the article in the magazine. The editors seem to be suggesting that British children were not brought up to be in rigid discipline of the Hitler Youth. Notably the British boy is not wearing a Scout uniform. The German boy is all too serious. Not the cheerful, healthy looking freedom loving British youngster whose dress code is relaxed and non military. The edidition was trying to show why the Britiish people why they were fighting. At the time not many British people would have known little about the Hitler Youth, but would have seen images suggesting rigid military discipline.

Youth groups played important roles in the War. This varied substantially among the different beligerant countries. Generally youth groups were involved on the home front in a range of support activities. The Hitler Youth went far beyond this. Several different youth groups were involved. The group most involved in the War was the Hitler Youth. The Hitler Youth was designed from the outset to prepare boys for War. Both the activities and ideological preparation was oriented toward War. Mesured on this basis, the NAZIs were very effective. After boys apptraoched miklitary afe, the HJ was organized so as to direct boys into the various service branchs. While still HJ members the boys played a variety of direct and support roles in the War. One SS armored division was formed from HJ boys. The Italian Balilla seems to have been far less effective. Other Fascist youth groups modeled on the HJ were organized in NAZI-occupied Europe. The Soviet Young Pioneer Movement was much less developed at the time of the war. Scout Movements existed in most other countries and played a variety of support roles in the countries not occupied by the Soviets or NAZIs. The NAZIs usually just prohibited Scouting. The Soviets in some cases actively sought out adult Scout leaders and arrested them.

American Youth Groups


German Hitler Youth

Generally youth groups were involved on the home front in a range of support activities. The Hitler Youth went far beyond this. Several different youth groups were involved. The group most involved in the War was the Hitler Youth. The Hitler Youth was designed from the outset to prepare boys for War. Both the activities and ideological preparation was oriented toward War. Mesured on this basis, the NAZIs were very effective. After boys apptraoched miklitary afe, the HJ was organized so as to direct boys into the various service branchs. While still HJ members the boys played a variety of direct and support roles in the War. We note extensive support activities during the War. We also note actual military service. This was something thst could be done while still living at home. HJ boys and even girls played a major role in manning the ant-aircraft batteries. One SS armored division was formed from HJ boys. HJ boys were also heavily involved in the Volksstrum.

Italian Balilla

We have been unable at this time to find much informatiin as the role oplayed by the Bailla on the Italian home front during World War II. We suspect that thy played some of the roles we have noted Boy Sciouts playing in Allied countries, but can not yet confirm that. Hopefully readers will be able to provide some information on this. We do know that from the inception of the Fascist state that the Bailla was used to prepare boys for war. The Italian Balilla, however, seems to have been far less effective than the Hitler Youth in preparing boys for war. The Italian Army was unprepared for war in terms of equipment. But the Italian soldier was even less well prepared for War. The average Italian soldier had few greivances with the British and even less with the Americans. The Balilla did not perpetuate the either the nationalist ardor, racial hatred, or greivance that the Hitler Youth so successfully impanted in German youth. One part of the Balilla program was military training, but unlike the Hitler Youth failed to iclcated martail ardor in Italian youth. And unlike the HJ, after Allies armies landed (September 1943), there was no desire of young Italians tyo resist the Allies to preserve the Fascist state. The fighting was done almost entirely done by the Germans.

Fascist Youth Groups in Occupied Countries

Other Fascist youth groups modeled on the HJ were organized in NAZI-occupied Europe. This varied from country to country. The Germans in the West were interested in winning over the local population, esprecially in the countries deemed to have Aryan populations. In the east there was much less interest and the governing policy was purely exploitive, bordering on genocide.

Soviet Young Pioneers

The Soviet Young Pioneer Movement was much less developed than the Germans or Italians at the time of the war. We have not found any discussion of the role of the Pioneers in the War.

Scouting Movement

Scout Movements existed in most countries and played a variety of support roles in the countries not occupied by the Soviets or NAZIs. Both the NAZIS and Soviers banned Scouting in most countries they occupied. The NAZIs usually just prohibited Scouting. The Soviets in some cases actively sought out adult Scout leaders and arrested them. France had a very large Scoting movement organized into different associations. The Germnans occupied France (June 1940), but there was an unoccpied zone in the south for 2 years. The Germans did not ban Scouting in France, seeking to create the imafe of a 'correct' occupation given the important role that France palayed in the German war ecionomy. Britain also had a very substantial Scouting movement. And the Scouts were mobilized to play a role in the War. They served as messengers, bith for the Home Army and for ARP. America had the world's largest Scouting movement. And Scouts in America also assisted in the War effort in a range of roles. There were many other countries with Scouting movements, both in occupied and unoccupied countries. Of all countries, it was probably Polish Scouts that played the most valiant role in the War.

American


American


Belgian


British


Polish Scouts


Sources








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Created: 9:17 PM 7/18/2008
Last updated: 6:41 PM 1/23/2014