Hitler Youth: Principles and Ideology

Figure 1.--.

Adolf Hitler and the NAZI Party used the Hitler Jugend to imbue German youth with NAZI ideology and prepare them for membership in the Party and its formations and military service in the Wehrmacht, Krirgsmarina, and Luftwaffe. For Hitler it was a matter of building the characher of German youth. To make Schirach's responsibility here clear, the first executive order under the Third Reich concerning the basic youth law stated, "The youth leader of the German Reich is solely competent for all missions of the physical, ideological, and moral education of the entire German youth outside of the house of the parents and the school." [Nikor Project, 1462-PS.] The two major principles the NAZIs constantly preached at the Hitler Youth boys was the superority of the German nation and Arya race and the need of the Germand for lebensraum ("living space") in the east. There were other principles such as the recovery of territory lost in World War I and of Germany's overseas colonies.

Mein Kampf

Adolf Hitler and the NAZI Party used the Hitler Jugend to imbue German youth with NAZI ideology and prepare them for membership in the Party and its formations and military service in the Wehrmacht, Krirgsmarina, and Luftwaffe. Hitler had set down his political goals and philophy while in prison. He dictated the book to his secretary Rudolph Hess. It was published as Mein Kampf ("My Struggle"). The book, while poorly written, in the light of history is an amazingly accurate in describing precisely what Hitler planned to do. The HJ looked on Mein Kampf as their Bible.


When boys entered the Jungvolk at age 10, the boys took an oath:

"In the presence of this blood-banner which represents our Fuehrer I swear to devote all my energies, and my strength to the Savior of our Country, Adolf Hitler. I am willing and ready to give up my life for him, so help me God. One People, one Reich, one Fuehrer."

Führer Principle

The Hitler Jugend, like the Third Reich, operated on the Führer or Leadership Principle. Leader were always appointed from above and the leader's will was absolute. He had to be obeyed by those blow him perfect training for life in the New Order. The Führer Principle was the principal control-techniques of the NAZIs. Schirach explained and glorified the Pronciple as it applied to German youth, "A single will leads the HJ. The power of authority of the HJ leaders, that of the smallest as well as of the largest unit, is absolute, i.e., he has the unlimited right to give orders because he bears the unlimited responsibility. He knows that the responsibility of the higher one comes before that of the lower ones. Therefore, he submits silently to the instructions of his leaders even if they are directed against him personally. To him as well as to all young Germany the history of the HJ is proof of the fact that a youth community also can only be successful if it unconditionally recognizes the authority of leadership. he success of National Socialism is a success of discipline. The structure of National Socialist Youth is built on the foundation of discipline and obedience. The teachings of the time of persecution apply even more to the period of victory and power." [Nizkor Project, 1458-PS.]

Basic Tennants

The baic tennants of the NAZI Party were systematically taught as part of a careffully developed training program. The two basic principles were nationalism and racism. To many Germanns these two principles were insepateable, but to many others naionalism was far more impotant and th NAZIs had to promote their racial program. One problem the NAZIs faced was that their program was only achievable through war, yet the German people did not want nother war. Thus the HJ was critical in changing the German to accept another war.

National redemtion

The most popular tennent of NAZIism was a demand for national redemtion. Germany had been humiliated by the Treaty of Versailles ending World War I. The NAZIs called it the "Versailles Shame Dictate." The Treaty had come as a great shock because until 1918 the German people thought that they were winning the War. Important pieces of territory were lost. The Polish Corridor was given to a new Polish nation. The Sudetenland was given to the new Czech nation. Alsace-Loraine was returned to France. This left large numbers of Germans living as minorities in foreign countries. All of Germany's African and Asian-Pacific colonies were awrded to Allied nations (Britain, France, and Japan). Major limits were placed on the future German military and massive war indemnities were required. The Weimar Republic had no choice but to accept the Treaty but it resented by all Germans. Here the NAZIs had little oposition.

Racial superiority

An esential tennent of NAZIism and thus a major part of the HJ indoctrination program was the racial superiority of the Aryan race. The boys were taught that the only true Germans were Aryans and that they were a Master Race. Many Germans were not th ideal blond Aryans potrayed in NAZI popaganda. One dark haired German, Wolfgang Weiss, reports, "We were taught that there was one ideal race, the German race." Racial superiority and anti-semitism was taught as biological science and the Jews were classified ant untermensch or sub-human. Not only could Jews not be Germans, but they were seen as the enemy of the German nation. Many Germans believed this, but unlike the naional redemtion tennent of NAZIism. not all Germans accepted this. Thus the HJ was an important tool in forming a national consensus on anti-semitism. The HJ teaching was not only theoretical, but verbal and physical attacks on Jews were in many case promoted or at least tacitly accepted. While Jewish boys in the early years of the Third Reich were still allowed to attend German schools, Jewish boys were taunted and often bullied. Boys with Jewish friends were ostricized. Many boys were converted to NAZI ideology by the HJ, absorbing hatred of Jew and other groups. This was to make the murder of millions possible. The Hitler Youth boys were not taught to murder people, but the impact of the racial hatred they were taught removed many of the barriers to killing Jews and others or parrticipating in often brutal rounding up of Jews for dispatch to the gettos and concentration camps that many would have normally felt.


The Hitler Jugend indoctrinated the youth with the idea that war is a noble activity. The mythology as well as progrm of the HJ included many activities designed to instill this idea. Here the NAZIs faced a major problem. Most Germans like other people in other countries would had fought World War I were horrified at the experience and never wanted another war. Anti-war literature was as popular in Germany as elsewhere. The great anti-war epic All Quiet on the Western Front was written in 1929 by German newspaper reporter Erich Maria Remarque. (When the Nazis came to power in the 1930s, Remarque left Germany for Switzerland. After an unsuccessful attempt to lure him back, they burned his books and films.) For Hitler his World War I service in the Wehrmact had been the highpoiunt of his life. He also realized that NAZI goals could only be achieved by war, but the idea of another war was so unpopular he could not say this. Thus an important task of the HJ was to bring up a new generation which would either share his view of war or at least loyaly paticipate in a future war.


The Hitler Jugend taught that the guiding principle of German policy was the utilization of the space to the East. This meant much more thn just returning minority German populations in Poland and Czeceslovakia to the Reich. It meant sizing vast territories of Eastern Europe in Poland ad the Soviet Union and operating them as colonies, much as the British and French colonies in Africa and Asia. As the local populations were accorded the status of inferior people they could be reduced to a srbile status serbing the Aryan Master Race and great German people. Schirach subscribed to the NAZI "racial-political task" and extended his jurisdiction even beyond the border of the German Reich. Schirach promoted a close relation between the Hitler Youth and the Verein fuer das Deutschum im Ausland (VDA-German League for Germandom Abroad. Schirach signed an agreement with VDA Leaders in 1933 which read, "1) With a complete respect for the important racial-political task the Hitler Youth recommends to its members membership in collaboration with the VDA." The agreement also stipukated. "3) The school groups of the VDA (racial-German work cells) assist the Hitler Youth in their work." [Nizkor Project, L-360- H.] The HJ members were taught that the guiding principle of German policy was the utilization of the space to the East. [Nizkor Project, 1458-PS; 2439-PS.]


The HJ to promotevNAZI ideology and programs held more than 200,000 political indoctrination meetings (Heimabend) were held weekly. Each community in the Reich was required by law to provide a suitable meeting house for the Hitler Jugend. many facilities had been seized from the property and assetts of previous groups such as the Scouts. While not all Jewish youth groups were immediately prohibited, most of their assets were and turned over to the Hitler Youth.


Training and films were produced on an elaborate scale to be shown to the boys. Minister of Propognda Josef Goebels took a special interest in the film industry. After the NAZI take over, all German films were esentially propoganda films. Several dealt specifically with the Hitler Youth.


A great range of material was published for the Hitler Jugend. The HJ had its own press and propaganda office. They published at least thirteen magazines and large numbers of other publications and yearbooks appealing to all age groups and to the various interest groups of the youth.

Social Revolution

Germany like other European countries was stratified along class lines. Working class boys had little chance of obtaining godd educations or pursuing professional careers. Germany was not an especially serious example of this. Such limitastions were perhaps even more severe in Britain. The NAZI takeover in Germany changed this in many ways as they proceeded to engineer a social revolution in Germany. No where was this more pronounced than in the Hiler Youth movement. In the Hitler Youth it was often leadership potential, ideological purit, nd athletic prowess that mattered. Working class boys who would have had limited prospects found themselves n leadrship roles over boys from important families. This was an important element in binding many German boys to the NAZIs.


Another important elemnt of the Hitler Youth was the comraderie encouraged as part of the program. There were many cmpetitiins beyween groups of boys requiing thm to work together to in. One former HJ boy writes, "The cmraderie was fantastic. I told my friends at school about our acivities and many were excited about joinig too." Hans Muller explains, "I felt more at home in the group and with the sing along than at home." Günter Damanske says, "Belonging was veryimportant to us boys. Non-members were outsiders, not one of us."

Importance of Youth

Hitler Youth boys were constantly being told how important they were. They were made to feel an important part in a vital future for a new redemed Germany. This made them feel important. Boys like hearing this as they are normally so poweless at home and at school. HJ boy Erich Loest, "We were made to feel part of a new revitalized Germany." Johannes Köppen explains, "We were told that our new geneation would rule greater Germany--it made sence to us. We had a mission. It made us feel differet and very proud."

School and Family

The activities in which the HJ members were engaged came to overshadowed their formal education.


Techers had to be careful of what they said least their students report them.


The same thing occurred at home. Many parents were either opposed or had misgivings about the NAZIs. The HJ training and indoctrination pogram became so effective that parents had to be careful of even what thy said at home, either because the children would naively repet it or even report their parents. This served the purpose of estranging many children from their families. In many cases the children became their family's NAZI propagandists and ideological supervisors. This could be the case in working class as well as higly educated families.


Nizkor Project. "Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression Individual Responsibility Of Defendants: Baldur Von Schirach".


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Created: February 17, 2002
Last updated: November 4, 2002