Hitler wanted to turn all the young Germans into loyal Nazis. The greatest influences on young Germans were their families, schools and youth movements. Therefore, the Nazis formed their own youth movement in 1922, it was known as the Hitler - Jugend (Hitler youth).
By the year 1933, the membership had grown to 100,000. Once Hitler came to power all other youth movements were abolished which helped Hitler youth grow quickly. In 1936, the figure stood at 4 million members because it had become all but compulsory to join the Hitler youth.
At the age of 10 boys joined the Deutsches Jungvolk (Germany Young People) until they turned 13, when they moved on to the Hitler Jugend (Hitler Youth) until age 18. The boys were taught to use weapons, build up their physical strength, taught war strategies and were indoctrinated in anti - Semitism. Although Hitler had the boy scouts "outlawed" he appropriated some of their activities though changed in content and intention.
The Hitler Youth program was based on Hitler's anti-intellectualism. Physical, rather than mental development was stressed and outdoor activities dominated the program. Most of the boys training resembled "soldier training", this involved throwing grenade - like objects, crawling under barbed wire, learning to jump off high platforms into the sea and climbing over tall obstacles. Their slogan was "youth must be led by youth". It was, however, very misleading. The boys were encouraged to question or even reject some authority figures, such as parents or church leaders, which appealed to many boys. They, however, had to accept Nazi principles without question.
The Nazis trained and treated the boys in Hitler Youth in this manner because they (Hitler and the Nazis) had the basic belief and motivation of training future "Aryan supermen" and future soldiers who would serve the third Reich faithfully.
"I begin with the young. We older ones are all used up. We are rotten to the marrow. We are cowardly and sentimental. We are bearing the burden of a humiliating past and have in our blood the dull recollection of serfdom and servility. But my magnificent youngsters! Are there any finer ones in the world? Look at these young men and boys! What material! With them, I can make a new world. This is the heroic stage of the youth. Out of it will come the creative man, the man-god. "
Hitler Youth Leader Bauder von Schirach once said, "It was my task to educate the youth in the aims, ideology and directives of the Nazi party, and beyond this to direct and to shape them." The Hitler Youth to accomplish this had an elaborate propaganda apparatus which published numerous articles, ranging from a daily press service to monthly magazines. Through liaison agents the Hitler Youth Propaganda Office had permanent contact with Dr. Goebbels' Propaganda Office and with the Ministry of People's Enlightenment and Propaganda. The Hitler Youth organization published a series of magazines including Youth and Homeland, The Young World, The German Girl and Girls Your World. Another magazine, Will and Power, was produced for HJ leaders and female guardians
Girls at the age of 10 joined the Jungmadelbund (Leagues of German Girls). The Nazis believed the girls' youth were important but not as important as those of the boys because the girls were not being prepared for military service. Never the less, girls did have to do similar activities like the boys. The girls had to be able to run 60 metres in 14 seconds; throw a ball 12 metres and of course know how to make a bed and keep a home. A popular recruiting poster for the League of German Maidens declares "Every girl belongs to us."
To the outside world the Hitler youth seemed to stand for German discipline. However, this image was far from being accurate. School teachers complained that boys and girls were very tired from attending meetings in the evening at Hitler youth, that they found it difficult to stay awake in school the next day. Therefore, in 1938 attendance at Hitler youth meetings had dropped to barely 25% which made the authorities decide to tighten up attendance and so in 1939, they passed a law making attendance to the Hitler youth compulsory.
Interesting details about the Hitler Youth are available from the children involved looking back as adults on their experiences. The reflections are quite varied. Most boys were at first eager to join. Parents had more mixed feelings, especially anti-Nazis. In many cases the boys from these families could not understand their parents' misgivings. Often it was not safe for their parents to explain why to their children--both boys and girls. Many boys enthusiastically participated. Other boys hated it, especially smaller boys and boys who did not have an athletic bent might have difficulty.
The Hitler Youth grew from a group with a handful of boys to one of the most important uniformed youth group in Europe. No group so thoroughly succeeded in their stated purpose. Had the Nazis succeeded, the elite of Europe would have been raised and trained through the Hitler Youth.