Dutch Youth Groups: World War II

Figure 1.--This photograph of Dutch Jeugdstorm boys and girls was taken about 1943. Notice how both boys and girls wore their caps under the epaulets of their shirts.

The fortunes of the NSB and its youth unit, the Nationale Jeugdstorm (NJ) changed markedly after the German invasion (May 1940). Many thinking the Germans had virtually won the war, flocked to join the NSB or its rival the NU. It looked like the Germans were now the masters of Europe and Fascism was the duture of the Netherlands. Dutch Fascists incouraged their children to join the NJ. The NJ was founded on May 1st 1934 by the deputy leader of the NSB, C. van Geelkerken. On February 1, 1936 the organisation was dissolved after being declared unlawful by the (Dutch) Supreme Court and changed into a "democratic" association: the Vereniging Nationale Jeugdstorm. One month after the German invasion the organisation took back its old name again. Membership of the Jeugdstorm was voluntary, and all "aryan" boys and girls between 10 and 18 years of age could join. The leadership for the greater part was in the hands of adults. Membership of the NJ swelled. Even after Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, it looked like it wold be another short, victorious campaign. The Wehrmacht's defeat before Moscow and Hitler's declaration of War on America radically changed the outlook. Older Dutch boys who joined the NJ found themselves in the German military.

German Invasion

The Germans did not respect Dutch neutrality in World War II. While the Germans did respect it in Wotld War I, the German troops crossed the border of the neutral Netherlands on May 10, 1940. After only 4 days of uneven battle the Dutch Army capitulated and Queen Wilhemina fled to London to form a Government in exhile. When France fell in June, many in the Netherlands were convinced that the Germans had actually won the war and that Europe for years would be dominated by the NAZIs. It looked that way to many Brits and Americans also.


The Germans declared the Netherlands a Reichskommissariat and appointed Arthur Seyss-Imquart to lead it. Mussert's NSB was seen as the most important proponent of collaboration. German occupation policies were affected by the preceived racial make up of the population occupied. The NAZIs preceived the Dutch as fellow aryans and thus occupation policies in the Netherlands were very different than in Poland. Another well-kept secret is that the worst Nazis during the German occupation were Austrians. (This relates to the still debated question as whether Austraiwas the first occupied country or whether they were willing collaborators.) The Reichskommissar, Seyss-Inquart, was Austrian, as were the Hoehere SS und Polizeifuehrer, Rauter, and most of the fanatic ministers in the Reichsregierung for Occupied Holland, men like Wimmer (Economy) and Fischbock (Finance). And that after Holland had welcomed, clothed and fed hundreds of poor Austrian children right after World War I! Many of these children had stayed and married Dutch partners. One such person was the one who hid Anne Frank and her family in Amsterdam, Miep Gies.

Dutch Right-wing Parties

Nederlandse Unie

The authority of Reichskommissariat Arthur Seyss-Imquart was briefly challenged because of a nationalist movement which apparently appeared spontaneously, the Nederlandse Unie-NU (the Netherlands Union). It was created in 1940 and urged the Dutch to adopt a "loyal" attitude toward the occupying Germans. Members were convinced that the Allies had lost the war and the only hope for the Netherlands was to cooperate with the Germans. The NU favored authoritarian government and patriotism, but on the orders of the Germans did not address the issue of the royal family. Interest in the NU was metioric in the early months of the occupation when many thought that the Germans would win. The NU soon had many more members than the NSB. But it soon faltered. The Dutch saw it as a patriotic (but non-collaborationist, anti-NSB movement) the Germans as a collaborantist movement. When neither proved to be the case, the Dutch deserted it and the Germans supressed it. The flash point was the NU's refusal to endorse the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. The German's closed the party newspaper and party voluntarily disbanded.

Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging (NSB)

The supression of the NU left the political field open to the Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging--NSB (Nationalist Scocialist Movement). The Dutch branch of Dinasso (described in the Flemsish section of nationalist Belgian youth groups) joined the NSB as did units of the NSNAP. The party's political supremacy was guaranted on December 14, 1941 when the Germans declared the NSB to be the exclusive Dutch political party. Smaller parties were absorbed into the NSB or disbanded. The NSB id attract some arent support from right-wing Dutch. This suppoty and that of the smaller fascist parties, however, was weakened as commited members joined the German war effort and were mostly dispatched to the eastern-front to join the fight against the Russians. (German policy was to ensure that Dutch and Belgian volunteers were not used in the west either before or after the Normandy invasion.) Most did not survive the War.

Figure 2.--These Jeugdstorm boys were photographed parading in 194?. Note the drums simiar to ones used by the Htler Youth. These are the older Stormer boys in their summer uniforms.

Nationale Jeugdstorm

The Nationale Jeugdstorm (NJS) was founded on May 1st 1934 by the deputy leader of the NSB, C. van Geelkerken. On February 1, 1936 the organisation was dissolved after being declared unlawful by the (Dutch) Supreme Court and changed into a "democratic" association: the Vereniging Nationale Jeugdstorm. One month after the German invasion the organisation took back its old name again. Membership of the Jeugdstorm was voluntary, and all "aryan" boys and girls between 10 and 18 years of age could join. The leadership for the greater part was in the hands of adults. A Dutch reader has supplied some basic information on the Nationale Jeugdstorm in Dutch. A HBC has kindly provided an accurate translation.

Other Groups Banned

Dutch Scouting

The NJ had to compete with Dutch Scouting which most boys preferred, even during the early occupation era. Scouting in Holland started in 1910. That year the first Scout troops were formed in a few cities. In the next decades Scouting organisations were established for boys and two for girls. Scouting quickly became the most popular activity for Dutch boys. The movement was, however, disrupted during the World War II German occupation when the NAZIs at first discouraged and then outlawed Scouting. Some Scouting was continued clandestinely, but Scouts could not wear their uniforms. The Scouting movement was quickly restablished after liberation in 1945.

Other groups

All other youth groups besides the NJ were evebntually banned, although we do not have details on the precise process. We assume that all groups associated witg the Communists and Socialists, like the Arbeiders Jeugd Centrale (AJC). were banned immediately after the NAZI occupation. We are less sure about De Jonge Wacht and various right wing groups. These groups more accurately cn be described as being absorbed into the NJ rather than being banned, but we do noy have details at this time. Membership was not mandatory, but there were some advantages.

German Hitler Youth

The NJ was not the only youth group in the Netherlands during the NAZI occupation. Quite a number of Germans lived in the Netherlands. Hitler Youth groups were organized for these children and a few schools established for them. The Hitler Youth had been banned by the Dutch Government before the occupaion. Once the NAZI occupation began, the Hitler Youth was able to operate openly. Children with only one German parent could join, butthis was up the family. (I'm not sure about children with only onr German grandparent.) We do not know of any attempt to coordinate youth group activities between the NJ and Hitler Youth organization in the Netherlands. Some NJ members had summer work experiences on German farms. We do not know if the Hitler Youth organization sponsored any activities in Germany for NJ boys.

Italian Bilail

Although there were not as many as the the Germans, there were also a small number of Italians in the Netherlands. Like the Hitler Youth, the Italian Bilail had been banned by the Dutch Government before the 1940 German invasion. The Bilail was only for Italian children living in the Netherlands.

Reader Question

A reader writes, "I am writing a novel set during 39-45 in Amsterdam. I need to know more information about the officer role in Jeugdstorm. What would an officer have done? Was it a paid job which could have prevented them from joining the German Militiary." We do not at this time have sufficent information to fully answer this question. I think, however, that we can make some pertinent comments. Our reader asks about leader duties. Here I think the duties are roughly similar to the duties of leaders in modern Scouting. Of course there would have been a strong ideolgical component. I think the thrust of our reader's question is whether boys and men joined the Jeugdstorm as a way of avoiding combat. I think the answer here is no, which we will explain. Here we need to differentiate between adult leaders and the member youth leaders. The adult leadership came from the right-wing Fascist wing of Dutch politics. There were clearly also many oportunists involved. Remember that in 1940 and early 1941 when many signed up for the Jeugdstorm that it looked like the NAZIs had won and the War would soon be over. It was only after the NAZI invasion of the Soviet Union (June 1941) and then the Wehrmacht's defeat before Moscow and the declaration of war on America (December 1941) that it became clear that the War would be a long one. Rather than exempting one for militay service, membership in the Jeugdstorm meant that you were likely to be involved in the War. I believe thar it exempted one from concription for labor service in the Reich, but military service was a different matter. The NAZIs did not draft the Dutch into the military. They did attemt to recruit volunteers. Most Dutch had the good sence to to reject the recruiting efforts. Adult leaders of military age would have, however, been under pressure to volunteer as a way of demonstrating one's commitment to the cause. (This was the same in the Hitler Youth. Eventually Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach, for example, found it necessary to volunteer.) The boys who joined the Jeugdstorm were also likely to join the military, at least the older boys. The program like the Hitler Youth was organized so as to funnel older boys into the military. So rather than keeping one out of combat, membership in the Jeugdstorm was likely to lead to service on the Eastern Front with the German military. (The Germans were afraid to assign units recrited in Western Europe to the Western front.) And parents with Fascist leanings probably were instrumental in getting their kids in the Jeugdstorm from where they were recruited for miitary service, quite a number of whom died in the Easern Front. What I am not sure about is to what extent the Jeugdstorm was used to recruit Fascist police auxileries.

Personal Experiences

A Dutch reader writes, "You are right the way you explain the difference between being a member of the Jeugdstorm and joining the German military in occupied Holland. Being an "officer" (I would describe it as a "leader") was not a paid job and it had nothing to do with joining the German army. Of course, the German authorities put a lot of pressure on older members of the Jeugdstorm to join the Waffen SS. There always were posters on the walls, ads in the newspapers and propaganda movies in the cinemas to get young men into the Dutch branch of the Waffen SS. The Germans needed more and more soldiers in the Soviet Union to fight "the barbaric Bolshevists" (for folk and fatherland, as the NSB slogan was), but nobody in the Netherlands was really forced into the German army. (Large numbers were, however, conscripted for labor service in the Reich.) As a boy I knew every family in our street. There were two NAZI households. None of the children joined the Jeugdstorm, but two boys joined the Waffen SS. One came back after the war and promptly was interned by the Government. The other one died in Russia. One girl of an other family, who slept with German soldiers, was during the wild liberation days forced on an open car, shaven bald and displayed as a whore together with other women in the village. Again, a friend of mine from another family in the street who was a baker was sent to Germany to work. He was lucky that he could work in his own trade as a baker in Stettin on the Baltic coast. He liked it there, because he was allowed to live with the baker's family. After the war he even sent packages to that family in Germany, because they were expelled by the Poles in 1945 and had lost everything. Next door was a very anti-NAZI family. The son and the daughter worked for the underground and the young man was caught and executed 2 weeks before the end of the war, very tragic. The other people were more or less silent and survived the war without too many problems, except for two elderly ladies who died of starvation. We all were skin and bones. I went to school until November 1944. The school closed. Most children no longer had shoes and of course little to eat. Before that there were about six boys and girls who were members of the Jeugdstorm. They sometimes even wore their uniforms to class. Another boy belonged to "De Jonge Wacht", a catholic youth organisation. He had a green shirt and black shorts. Other boys used to be boy scouts and were wearing their uniform shorts with the belt "be prapared". Occasionally there were fights, but in general the NAZIs were ignored. We resumed our studies after the liberation. There was an other family, catholics with many children. Some of the children looked different and we later heard that they were Jewish. They survived the war. [Stueck]


Durdey, Tricia. E-mail message, May 1, 2006.

Stueck, Rudi. E-mail message, May 1, 2006.


Navigate the Historic Boys' Uniform Chronology Pages:
[Return to the Main chronologies page]
[The 1900s] [The 1910s] [The 1920s] [The 1930s] [The 1940s] [The 1950s] [The 1960s] [The 1970s] [The 1980s] [The 1990s] [The 2000s]

Navigate the Historic Boys' Uniform Web Site:
[Activities] [Biographies] [Chronologies] [Countries] [Essays] [Garments] [Organizations] [Religion] [Other]
[Introduction] [Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Questions] [Unknown images]
[Boys' Uniform Home]

Navigate the Historic Boys' Uniform Web organizatiion pages:
[Return to the Main Dutch nationalist page]
[Boys' Brigade] [Camp Fire] [Hitler Youth] [National] [Pioneers] [Royal Rangers] [Scout]

Created: April 25, 2000
Last updated: 3:08 AM 5/24/2010