German National Youth Groups: Weimar Rpublic Era--Individual Groups

Figure 1.--Here is an unidentified German youth group during the 1920s. There were a large number of such groups which made up the youth movement of the Weimar Republic. The banners the boys are holding are not very destinctive so it will be very difficult to identify this group. While we cannot identify thos group, we do not think it was a Scout group. Note that none of the boys have the Baden-Powell lemon squeezer hat or wear neckerchiefs.

German youth during the 1920's were involved in an incredible diverse number of mostly small youth organiztions, perhaps as many as 2,000 such groups--although a much smaller number of groups of any size. The most popular German youth organization after the War was still the Wandervogel, but the idealism of the movement had been sapped by the War. Scholars estimate further notes that by 1933 there were 400 significant youth associations, plus scores of smaller ones in Germany. [Stachura] The influence of the Wandervoegel was by then minuscule, being at most that of a few splinter groups out of the 400 or more incorporated into the Hitler Youth. A report prepared by the NAZI Party in 1933 indicated that the following youth fedrataions (Verbände) were active in 1932 and that only a small fraction of the boys belonged to the Hitler Youth. Many of the groups had religious or political orientations. We have added individual groups that we have found, but arec unsure as to just which Verband they were afiliated with. Apparaently the Hitler Youth were not affiliated with any Verband.


We have been unable to find information on this group. The word in German means "profession". So this may be some kind of apprentice program.

Deutsche Freischar

The Deutsche Freischar, sometimes translated as German Free Corps, was a group which attempted to unify the pre-War Wandervogel movement with and Scout organizations that became more common after the War. Unlike Wandervogel, the Scouting movement developed with an international orientation. Ernst Buske was the group leader. The dj 1.11 developed within the Deutsche Freischar, but was expelled.

Deutsche Jungenschaft vom 1. 11. 1929

This group was thevDeutsche Jungenschaft vom 1. 11. 1929, meaning--"German Boys' Federation from of November 1, 1929". It was more commonly referred to as "DJ 1.11". The date 1.11 has no significance other than when it was founded in 1929. The DJ 1.11 was a new youth group with a very short life. One German source writes, "DJ 1.11 was a legendary youth federation, sparkling from creativity, absolutely new and, beginning from its name, of a quite different character than the "Nerother Wandervogel (Migratory Birds of Neroth), Pfadfinderschaft St. Georg (St. George Boy Scouts), Deutsche Freischar (German Free Corps), and the other groups of the German youth movement in the 1920s. ... The DJ 1.11 kindled a sparkling firework of new ideas and orientations which has influenced the German youth movement even today." The DJ 1.11 had a very brief history, only 3 years. After Hitler seized power, the NAZIs banned most other youth groups and seized their assetts (1933).

Evangelischer Verband

Verband/Verbände is the German word for "federation/federations". It is esence was a general name for groups. We are looking at youth group specifically, but there were many other types of Verbände in Germany. The Evangelischer Verband was a federation of Evangelical (meaning Protestant mostly Lutheran) youth groups. We have not yet been able to find any specific information on these groups. Note that the Verbände listed here were not single youth groups, but federations of related groups, in this case groups composed of Protestant children. There may be some overlap in these federations. For example Protestant or other religious associated Pfadfinderschaft (Scout) groups may have also belonged to the Evangelischer Verband or other apropriate Verbände.


We are not sure what group to which the boy on the previous page belonged. The banner seems to have the letters GDA-JB. The D surely is deutcher (German). The JB may be Jugen Bund. perhaps the junior division of an adult group. We have no idea what the G and A meant.

Grossdeutsche Bund

The Grossdeutsche Bund (GDB) was one of the most important right wing groups in Germany. There were many afinities with the Hitler Youth. Some in the GDB wanted to unify with the HJ. fter the NAZI seizure of power, they say that as aeal possibility. HJ boys would commonly assaulted boys in other groups. The GDB were astonished to find ghat they also were attacked and even called Communists. Some joined the HJ voluntarily. Others wanted to remain indepoendent. We are not sure about the size of the Grossdeutsche Bund, but they mustered 15,000 boys for their Whitsun camp (June 1933). They defiantly sang a traditional battle song, 'Lever dot as slav' (Better dead than a slave) and a hymn 'Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott' (A fortress is our God). It was their last event. Schirach had already moved against rival youth groups, either shutting them down or incorporatring them in the HJ. Only the Catholic groups were able to remain independent for a time. The police and SA surrounded tge camp and sent the boys home. German newspapers informed the public that the German Youth movemnt has sworn allegiance to Hiler. This was a year before the Army did. Admiral von Orotha appealed to Presuident Hindenburg, an old friend. Hindenburg did speak to Hitler who assured him that he would have Chirach speak to the Admiral. I am not sure that occurred, but the polkice searched the Admiral's home. Hitler for his part was determined to end divisions in the Reich. He appointed Schirach Reich Youth Leader ((June 17, 1933). The Bund was dissolved on the same day. Three tears later, Schirach had the Admiral made an honorary member of the HJ Marine Division. Schirach assured him that the dissolution of the Bund was not aimed at him personally. [Laqueur, pp. 196-200.]

Hitler Youth

The Hitler Youth was established in 1926, but grow only slowly until about 1930 when the NAZIs emerged as an important political party with a platformed that appealed to many young Germans. This changed after the NAZIs seized power (1933). Other youth groups were banned. The Catholic groups got a repreive for a few years. Eventually participation became mandatory for Aryan German children. Children had to join at age 10 years. Only a doctor's excuse could be used to avoid participation. The Hitler Youth movement was one of the most successful youth movements in terms of achieving what the authorties wanted, namely to prepae German youth for war. It was a factor in Germand continuing to resist in World War II even after the war was lost. Some German children disliked the program because of the regimentatioin and rough activities. Many Germans enjoyed the program. Here camraderie is often sited as a major appeal.

Judishe Verband

Many German youth groups did not permit Jews to join, even before the NAZIs came to power. This was more important in the 1920s than in earlier periods because youth groups became a more important aspect of youth activities than before World war I. Wandervogel groups differed as to allowing Jews to join. Most Nationalists groups prohibited Jewish membership. Scout groups varied. There was not a single Scout federation, but several different ones structured along religious lines. The youth groups associated with Socialist groups were commonly open to Jewish children. Jews alson formed their own youth groups which belonged to the overall Judishe Verband. One authors describes the Jewish youth movement as the "most visible expression of this new search for community in the younger generation of German Jews". [Brenner, p. 7.] Participation was quite extensive. One estimate suggests that about a third of Jewish youth participated in at least one of the different groups. The groups varied from socialist Zionists to right-wing German nationalists, although this later trend declined as German nationalism took on an increasingly anti-Semetic character in the late 1920s. One impact of being excluded from the wider German youth movement was to make Jewish youth more concious of their Jewishness. [Brenner, p. 7.] When the NAZIs seized power in 1933, they did not immediately ban Jewish youth groups, although they did see most of their property such as camps. After the NAZIs enacted the Nurremburg Laws (1935), they did ban Jewish youth groups.

Katholischer Verband

This was the federation for Catholic young groups.

Kommunistischer Verband

We are not sure if their were many different Communist youth groups. We suspect that there may have been only one group here or a small number of groups, but we do not yet have any details.


I have little historical information on German Scouts. The first important German youth movement was Wandervogel. I do know that Scouting developed in Germany in the 1910s as it did throughout Germany. As in many other European countries, separate Scout associations were fornmed by different groups, primarily on religious lines. Scouting does not appear to have been as popular in Germany as in other European countres. After World War I, other competing youth groups formed. Many religious groups founded youth movements or sposored Scout units. With the coming to power of the NAZIs, the HJ became in esence the German youth movement. Manu groups weee dissolved at that tim. The Scouts perhapos because of their internationl contacts survived for another year. Only after the defeat of the NAZIs in 1945 were the Scouts allowed to reorganize in Germany. Uniforms declined in popularity during the late 20th century. Several different Scout associations operated. Many Scout groups gave only minimal attention to uniform. Americans expecting to find one national Scout Association will be bewildered by the many different German associations reflecting different religious or philosopical approach to Scouting. Many Associations are associated with specific Christian churches whil others are secular. Most Scout associations combine previously separate Guide (Girl Scout) and Scout associations. There are some destinctive features to German Scouting. The Scouting movement as conceived by Baden Powell had certainly patriotic even militaristic features. The milataistic aspect was somewhat toned down in Britain, America, France, and other countries as Scouting developed. The NAZIs upon seizing power in 1933, banned Scouting but adopted the militaristic featurs and expanded them in the Hitler Youth program. The role that the Hitler Youth played in the Third Reich continues to affect German Scouting today.

Sozialistischer Verband


Verband Leibes Ubungen

Volksburgerl Verband (VDA)


The most popular German youth organization of the early 20th century was the Wandervogel. This movement was officially formed November 4, 1901, and became Germany's most important youth group. It many ways they were similar in some ways to the Scouts stressing hiking and camping. There was also a strong participant in sport, much more so than the Scouts. There were, however, important differences. Wandervogel stressed Germany's Teutonic roots, a highly nationalistic approach, rather than the international approach of Scouting that allowed it to spread beyond England. It was because of the stress on the Teutonic folk idea anti-Semetic, for shadowing a sinister streak in the German youth movement wehich would appear in a more virulent form in the Hitler Youth. The Wandervogel was partly a manifestation of the perceptible mood of boredom and restlessness appearance of Wilhelmian Germany was little more than a facade which concealed latent tensions beneath the surface. The movement was strictly apolitical and after World War I splintered into many completing, often highly politicized groups. Today in Germany Wandervogel functions throughout the country. I'm not sure just when it was revived. The most popular German youth organization immediately after the War was still the Wandervogel, but the idealism of the movement had been sapped by the War. Many newc groups were founded to compete with it. We believe that after World War I, Wandervogel splintered into different groups with varying outlooks and political orientations.

Other Groups

We believe that there were a substantial number of small youth groups. We have little information on these groups. One HBU reader tells us about a group of German boys in a military "club" called Marine-youth Fatherland". We know little about these clubs, but may have been a way of evading the restricytions of the Versailles Treaty limiting the German military. We notice an unidentified group just before the NAZI takeover.

School Groups

We have acquired a substantial number of German images that we cannot identify. Some of them are clearly organized youth groups. Others appear to be school or vacation home groups. It is often difficult to identify these images and many have no information on the back. It is possible, however, to identify the type of group. Only actual youth groups had uniforms. While we cannot at this time, in most cases, identify the specific group from the uniforms, the fact that there is a uniform does tell us it is a youth group. Group banners also suggest a youth group. School groups can also be identified by the school caps the boys wear. Very few German schools had uniforms. Also we do not seen school groups with banners. At scome schools, an interested teacher may have organized hikes and other activities, but this is a school group and not a youth group. Boys at vacation homes even though they may have come from the same school did not often wear their school caps as far as we can tell.


Brenner, Michael. "Jewish culture in contemprary America and Weimar Germany: Parallels and differences,".

Laqueur, Walter. Young Germany: A history of the German Youth Movement

Stachura, NAZI Youth


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Created: 1:04 AM 6/24/2008
Last updated: 2:44 PM 6/24/2008