Experience: Hitler Youth

Howard Guttman
Gerry Kraus
Martin Lowenberg
“Founded in 1926, the original purpose of the Hitler Youth was to train boys to enter the SA (Storm Troopers), a Nazi Party paramilitary formation. After 1933, however, youth leaders sought to integrate boys into the Nazi national community and to prepare them for service as soldiers in the armed forces or, later, in the SS. In 1936, membership in Nazi youth groups became mandatory for all boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 17. After-school meetings and weekend camping trips sponsored by the Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls trained children to become faithful to the Nazi Party and the future leaders of the National Socialist state.


“The Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls were the Nazis' primary tools for shaping the beliefs, thinking, and actions of German youth. While the development of a healthy body was emphasized through participation in sports, more typical activities for League of German Girls members were music, crafts, and various aspects of home economics such as sewing, childcare, and cooking. The outbreak of World War II had a great impact on the work of the League and its members served the war effort in many ways. Younger girls participated in door-to-door collections for the Winter Relief and older girls tended wounded soldiers or did agricultural work formerly done by men.


“Upon reaching 18, boys were required to enlist immediately in the armed forces or in the Reich Labor Service, for which their activities in the Hitler Youth had prepared them. In autumn 1944, as Allied armies crossed the borders into Germany, the Nazi regime made a last-ditch effort to fend off military defeat. It conscripted German youths under 16 to defend the Reich, alongside seniors over the age of 60, in the units of the Volkssturm (People's Assault).”

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Accessed on July 22, 2011

German youth attending the Reich Party Conference rally at the Zepplin Field in Nuremberg raise their hands in the Hitler salute. Nuremberg, Germany, September 1938.

Accessed on July 26, 2011

Vienna, Austria. Members of the Hitler Jugend hanging signs on Jewish shops which read: Jewish Shop.

Accessed on July 26, 2011