The Hitler Youth after the outbreak of the war in 1939 began a variety of war work. At first it was home froint duties much like the Scouts in Britain, collecting scrap metal, warm clothing for soldiers on the Easter Front, charity donations, or other similar activities. Hitler Youth were also involved in farm work. We believe that there was also farm work before the War, but as more and more men were drafted into the military during the War, more workers were needed. We note accounts of HJ farm workers both living with farm families as well at HJ camps. We also have reports of children from the right-wing yoth groups in occupoied countries doing farm work. These children supplmented the slave labor from occupied countries Eventually other activites such as air raid wardens were taken up. Eventually Hitler Youth boys were involved in fighting fires and police work. By 1944 normal Hitler Youth activities were disrupted by the fact that older Hitler Youth boys who had leadership roles were being recruited into the army and SS units--in some cases special Hitler Youth units.
Aufraeumungsarbeit in German meant 'cleaning up' (Aufraeumungs) and 'work' (arbeit). This mean ckearing up the rubble and and looking for survivors and bodies in the collaosed and damage buildings. A HBU contributor writes about his HJ experience, "Most of what we did was "Aufraeumungsarbeit". That is, we had to clear rubble of the bombed out sections, search the cellars and basements - flooded and ready to collapse.- for survivors and dead. It was not fun by any imagination." [Lojewski] It was not only hard, unleasant work, but it ws dangerous. The buildings still standing were unstable as were the piles of rubble. And there were unexploded bombs. The Allied bombing campaign with rare expections did reltively little damage. This changed when the American 8th Airforce built up in Englnd during 1942 joined RAF Bomber Command in the around-the-clock bombing of the Reich (January 1943). The number and size of the raids increased. The damage was far beyond the ability of the established professional rescue services to deal with. The British did not use children for this undertaking. The Germans did abd not only the older HJ boys. We see the younger DJ boys as well (ages 10-14 years). The HJ children were at first used to aid the refugees, but as the bombing increase the boys were eventually used for more dangerous work. Part of the problem for Germany is thst as the war went agianst the Reich, more and more had to be conscripted. And by 1943-44 this included both skilled wokers and rescue workers. The Germans also employed POWs for this work, but we do not think concentration camp inmates. The choice of who was set to work depebded on who was available in the various cities hit by the Allies. It was a matter addressed by each local commuThe destruction was enormous, especially after the defeat of the Luftwaffe (early 1944). After the War women were used"--the Ttrummerfrauen, but we do not see much of this during the War.
The Hitler Youth after the outbreak of the war in 1939 began a variety of war work. At first it was home front duties much like the Scouts in Britain, collecting scrap metal, warm clothing for soldiers on the Easter Front, charity donations, or other similar activities. The NAZI Winterhilfswerk (Winter Relief) was the major charity effort, but this was expanded during the War. Essentialy the HJ boys and girls became a vast unpaid army that pestered anyone on the street for coins and then pursued them door to door. The money went to the Nationalsozialistische Volkswohlfahrt (People's Welfare Organization--NSV).
Hitler Youth boys as the War continued eventually took other activites such as air raid wardens. Eventually Hitler Youth boys were involved in fighting fires and even police work. The ininital British air raids were on a relatively small scale, generally within the ability of the fire services to deal with. This began to change in 1942. Bomber Command began to build up in forces with improved air =craft types. This included the Avril Lancaster-arguably the best bomber of the War until the arrival of the massive Boeing B-29. Also in 1942 the American 8th Air Force began arriving in Britin and after ininital operations mostly in France was ready by the end of the Year to join Bomber Command in the strategic bombarment of Germany. Roosevelt and Churchill meeting in Casabalanca announced both unconditional surrender and the around-the-clock bombardment of Germany (January 1943). The Americans bombed by day and the British by night. The Luftwaffe fought fiercly to defend German cities for all of 1943 and took a fearsome toll on attacking Allied bombers. The arival of long-range American escorts (December 1943) led to the rapid destruction of the Luftwaffe (January-April 1944). This left German cities fr the rest of the War primarily defended by FLAK batteries. The primary limit on Allied bombardment was the need to support the D-Day landings. The resulting pouding of German cities was beyond the capablities of the established fire and emergency services. HJ boys played an increasigly important role on CD operations. Older boys served as actual firemen. Youngr boys not banning FLAK batteries helped to assist the surviving civilans and to recover some of their possessions.
Kinderlandverschickung (KLV) operated during World War II (1939-1945). The children had to go to rural areas on "holiday" but really they should be out of the cities and towns that had difficulties feeding them and were being bombed by the Allies. I believe that both schools and the Hitler Jugend were involved in organizing thd KLV. One reafer reports that the HJ was especially important in the KLV organiation beginning in 1940. About 2.5 million children were sent to 9,000 camps until end of World War II. I believe in many cases their teachers accompanied them. The camos were, however, run by Hitker Youth leaders. They were not very happy places. Strangely, unlike the extensive discussion of the British evacuation of children (1940-41), the German KLA evacuation and camps are little discussed.
Hitler Youth were also involved in farm work. We believe that there was also farm work before the War, as the NAZIs attached great importance in establishing an attachment to the land. This became increasingly important as more and more men were drafted into the military during the War, more workers were needed. We note accounts of HJ farm workers both living with farm families as well at HJ camps. NAZI publications were full of peaceful scenes like this to promote the image of German youth living healthy, useful lives on the land in the service of their country. We also have reports of children from the right-wing yoth groups in occupied countries doing farm work. Many farmers also slave lanorers and prisoners of war from France, Yugoslavia, Poland, the Ukraine, and other countries who usually lived on the premises. A Dutch reader writes, "Some children of Dutch Nazis during 1941 and '42 were sent to Germany in their summer vacation (4 weeks). They were staying with selected German families, often farmers, where they were expected to help a little on the farm, since most of the men were in the Wehrmacht and their women had to do all the work. This was particularly during the summer leading to harvest time. These children supplmented the slave labor from occupied countries
Substantial areas were added to the Reich as a result of Germany's early victories. Within months, large areas of western Poland was added to the Reich. With the territory came large numbers of Poles. The Poles were to be expelled to the Government General. Conditions there were terrible as large numbers of Jews and Poles were forced into it. The Germinization process was slowed down, but not stopped by the War. The evictions were begun most aggresively in the
Warthegau (northestern Poland). Both Jews and Poles were evicted. The process with the Poles, howver, had to be slowed because it was dusrupting the war effort. As part of the process HJ members were used to supervise the Poles to make sure that they were not taking anything of value with them. One source suggests that this was mostly sone by BDM from the Land Service specifically assigned to this duty. Items of value were to be left behind for the ethnic Germans to be resettled on the vacated farms and shops. The Poles were to be reoplaced by Reich Germans as wll as the Baltic and other Germans from the East ordered Home to the Reich. This prived to be alow process, priumarily because Himmiler insisted on setting up a classification process to assess the racial purity abd political reliability of the ethnic Germans to be resettled. HJ youth were involved in the Germinization process of the new arrivals who were firsr gheld in camps until they were evaluated. The HJ youth were task with assidting the new arrivals and to help prepoare the arrivals. Many spoke German poorly and were not politically oriented. The children had to be enrolled in the HJ, a legak requiremnenbt st age 10 years.
Normal Hitler Youth activities by 1944 were disrupted by the fact that older Hitler Youth boys who had leadership roles were being recruited into the army and SS units--in some cases special Hitler Youth units. Many Hitler Youth boys did more than just home front war work, but actually saw military service. The Hitler Youth was important in the German military effort. It no only prepared boys for military service, providing physical and ideological conditioning, but also was a conduit for chaneling the boys into the various service branches. But once accomplished the boys were no longer HJ members. Some boys acutually participated in the War as active HJ nembers. This was accomplished in sevedal ways: 1) anti-air craft batteries, 2) Volkssturm (the People's Stotrm or Home Guard), and 3) other ways. Whole military units were formed from Hitler Youth boys. I'm not sure if the boys in these units continued to be HJ members once their military unit was formed.
At the onset of the War there were callups and this included among many others postmen. As the War against Germany, more and more men were called up thus depleting the ranks of the postal service. HJ boys stepped in as special postmen delivering draft notices in their neighborhoods. They also delivered the all-important monthly ration cards.
The NAZI creted a massive flow of refugees throughout Europe. As the War turned against Germany, more and more Germans were turned into refugees. This began with the Allied bombing raids as the Allied methodically destroyed one Getman vity after another (1943). The problem was relativey minor until the Inited States jouned the Briish in the around-the-clock bombing of Germany. Hitler Youth boys and girls were among those attempting to assist the mass of refugees. At first the number was limited. Another massive refugee problem was created as the resurgent Red Army after Stalingrad (January 1943) began to drive west. Germans in Eastern Europe began joining the retreating Wehrmacht collums. And eventually the Red Army reached the eastern rovinces of the Reich. Millions of Germans were desperately trying to reach the saftey of the rapidly shrinking Reich (1944). The refugee stream continued to stream west (1945). There was, however, no comparable stream east when the Western Allies entered the Reich.
We notice HJ boys involved in scrap collection drives. Given the number of HJ members, such drives could be massive. We do not have a lot of information on how this was organized. We do not have details on the role of the national organization. The boys went door to door collecting scrap metals and other needed war materials. This seems to have been a HJ rather than a BDM activity. We note one DJ group collecting scrap scene early in the War.
HJ members also reported on theiur neighbors and teachers as well as stranbgers they may encounter. We are not sure yet just how this worked. We do not know if the children weere given enstructions on what to look and listen for to report. Nor do we know in what form they then submitted any suspected indiuvidi=als. You woukd think that they reported to tyheir HJ leader, perhps in writing. The reports were then presumably passed on the the police. Pesumably there wre formal links between the HJ leaders and police to facilitate this. Nor do we know if these reoorts ent to the regular police or the Gestapo. We have seen this survrilajce activity often mentioned but rarely discussed in any detail. We have never seen any actual details on how common ghis was, such as the number of reoports submitted by the HJ and the number of people ultimately arrested and incarcerated. As far as we know, such statistics do not exist.
The BDM was also part of the HJ Organization. And the BDM girls also supported the War effot. Their acivities tended to be different than the boys' activities, although there was some overlap especially as thecwar progressed. Both boys and
girls participated in Winterhilfswerk (Winter Relief). The activities pursued by the girls were generally in keeping with the NAZI philosophy concerning women and their proper role. This was of course summarized by the traditional German slogan, " Kinder, Kirche, K�che" (Children, Church, Kitchen). The NAZIs saw the role of women was in the home where they would bear chilren and care for the and keep a comfortable home for NAZI warriors. There were many women's organizations in the NAZI syructure, but each had a lower status than that of the male counterparts. Virtually no women had important posts in the NAZI Party and Germany Government. BDM girls were assigned many of the same duries girls filled in Allied countrieds. They worked in hospitals and helped care for the wounded, they worked in day care centwrs and kindergartens. They assisted mothers with large families. They also worked at railway stations where they provided a little cheer, served coffee and food, and mailed letters to men departing for the front. One report suggests that BDM girls in the Landhahr (Land Year) program were assigned a special duty in occupied northwestern Poland (Warthegau). This was an area of mixed German-Polish population. The SS began a process of deporting the Poles to the Gerneral Government so that ethnic Germans from the Baltic and other areas could be settled in an effort to pernanently Germanize the area. We do not know if boys were also involved. The Landjahr youth were given the duty to carefully watch the Polish families being evicted to make sure they did not take anything of value from their homes and farms when the SS evicted them. BDM girls were also used for farm labor. Unlike the Allies and Soviets, BDM girls and women were not used in factories. Here the NAZIs turned to slave labor. Many of the Baltic Germans and Folkdeutch from Romania were not precisely what Himmler wanted to Germanize occupied Poland. The SS oversaw very strict racial tests to make sure only bonified ethnic Germans were used. Also many spoke poor German and had foreign cultural habits. BDM and I think HJ boys were used to resettle the transplanted Germans. We don't have a lot of details on the activities involved, but they probably included language instruction anf NAZI political propaganda. The children when the reached 10byears were inducted into the HJ and BDM.
Lojewski, Frank A. E-mail message, December 1, 2004. Frank has provided us more details about his HJ experiences.
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