I thought the most interesting aspect of the Hitler Youth movement was the beginning of it all, when the numbers were small to when the organization held a lot of power. The years 1933-1938 were the most influential of the youth movement. These years determined what the organization would become and how much power they would hold.
When Hitler came into power as the German Chancellor in 1933, the Hitler youth was not nearly close to an idea of what it was to become. Around this time, The Hitler Youth Organization numbered around one hundred thousand. Until two months later when Hitler was given dictatorial powers, which meant the state, was behind the Hitler Youth now. Immediately Hitler ordered that either organizations join the Nazis or disband. If the organizations chose to join the Hitler Youth Movement were under the power of Baldur Von Schirach who Hitler appointed to be the head of The Youth organization, with only Hitler to answer to.
Schirach began quickly by sending the fifty boys into The Reichs Committee of German Youth Association, and taking the six million members under the authority of the Hitler youth. So most of the recruitment for the Youth Movement was forced. Some groups did join willing though, but groups like The Catholic Youth Organization held out for as long as three years.
Schirach soon organized Hitlers Youth Movement into a precise running machine. He set up age brackets as well as a Hitlers youth for girls called the BDM(Bund Deutcher MadelLeague of German Girls}). The age brackets for boys started at ten to fourteen were the boys were in the jungvolk, and the boys from fourteen to eighteen were in the HJ(Hitler JugendYouth}). The girls had their age brackets as well the young girls from ten to fourteen were in the Jungmadel, and the girls from fourteen to eighteen were in the actual BDM.
The youth organization was based on competition on what ever they did boys or girls. The boys and girls did not participate together though, they did do very much of the same things. The boys played War games, and often started brawls, which was not discouraged because the Nazis believed it was toughing up the youth.
The only problem Schirach was running into was that he could not find enough qualified people to be Youth leaders. Schirach could not fill the positions because the youth movement was growing so fast. In just one year the population burst from one hundred thousand to 3.5 million. To solve the problem Schirach came up with Reichsfuhrer(leadership) schools. These schools were actually three-week cram courses, that although brought down the level of education for the youth movement, they were accepted because of lack of people.
In 1934 Schirach declared it to be “The Year of Training,” and told the youth that they were not just a group of kids marching in together, they are all individual soldiers with their own ideas, to motivate the kids. The kids learned vocational training, and in October were sent to the country to harvest the crops. This was to show them the value of hard manual labor, and how it pays off.
1935 was “The Year of Physical Training,” the Hitler youth had rigorous sport competitions and gladiator like fitness standards. Hitler felt that his youth should have more of a strong character and look more physically healthy, than to be well educated in the classroom. Hitler wanted his youth to feel that they are better than others are, and be proud to be Germans. While also being able to lay down their lives for their country.
When in the classroom the teachers taught their curriculum to emphasize Nazi themes and history. In every classroom hung a portrait of Hitler and some of the students even prayed to him. The curriculum even included how to spot a Jew, and if there was a Jew in the classroom the teacher would bring him to the front of the class and use a pointer to point out these features.
As the years progressed the Youth movement started accepting younger children and made the programs more physical. By 1936 for Hitlers birthday, his present would be to have every child over ten in the movement. If anyone would hold out his or her parents would be punished or even sent to jail. This birthday present made the youth organization grow to about 6 million.
When 1938 came around Hitler expanded Germanys borders to include Austria and some of Czechoslovakia. Which made the youth movement grow to its highest point of 8.7 million children? At the end of the year, the children truly learned what they were in for, in one of Hitlers speeches. He said that they were to know and to think nothing other than German, and that from age ten on they will be apart of some type of Hitlers organizations, “and they will never be free again as long as they live.”(The History Place,www.historyplace.com)