Discuss the nature and purpose of the Hitler Youth movement. How did it promote Nazi ideology? How effective was the Hitler Youth as an institute promoting Nazi ideology?

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The Hitler Youth or Hitler Jugend (HJ) was developed by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party in 1926. Children from every part of Germany between the ages of 6 and 21 joined the HJ to participate in swimming, hiking, war games and other activities. Hitler aimed to imprint his ideals upon the Hitler Youth members by slowly immersing them in anti-Jewish propaganda, while training the boys to become stormtroopers and coaching the girls towards developing into strong and healthy mothers who knew the importance of blood purity. The Hitler Youth movement was incredibly effective while support for it lasted. Hitler successfully brainwashed a generation of young men and women into believing in his ideals and his greatness. Because of Hitler’s rigorous training and molding, the HJ members were strong, fit, loyal, and had an intense dislike of the Jewish race. These young Germans believed in Hitler’s principles and would follow him wherever he led.

The Hitler Youth was organized into groups according to age under adult leaders. Young boys from age 6 – 10 could join the Pimpf (Little Fellows), which involved them in activities like camping, hiking, swimming as well as adventuring and singing. Boys then progressed to the Deutsche Jungvolk (German Young People) when they reached the age of 10 – 11, where they were introduced to military music as well as military preparation, with weapons training, assault courses and strategy as part of the daily schedule in preparation for the boys to serve Hitler as soldiers. The next stage for boys was the Hitler Jugend (Hitler Youth) which began to fully train the boys for service as soldiers. During war games that were part of the Hitler Youth curriculum, fighting and wrestling was encouraged and often led to bruises, cuts, scrapes and even broken bones. This was all part of preparation for the boys to become stormtroopers, soldiers who were members of the SA, a private militia of the Nazi party that used tactics of violence and brutality.

The League of German Girls was a parallel group to the Hitler Youth, and was designed specifically for young women. Girls in Germany from ages 10 to 14 could join the Jungmädel (Young Maidens) which trained them for good health and fitness through exercise and also prepared them for motherhood. Girls were eligible for the Bund Deutscher Mädel (League of German Maidens) or BDM from when they turned 14 until they were 21. The girls sang, did arts and crafts, and cooking, and participated in marches and parades. The Bund Deutscher Mädel further prepared girls for motherhood, health, domestic duties and to raise children who would be educated in the ways of National Socialism. They were brainwashed with "racial pride" and told to avoid all contact with people of the Jewish faith. They were also taught the importance of obedience, duty, self-sacrifice and discipline.

The Hitler Youth uniforms (for the boys) were miniatures of the soldiers’ uniforms. It consisted of a brown All Hitler youth children wore the same uniforms, which created a sense of equality – labourer’s sons and daughters wore the same clothes as those whose parents were rich or business people.

As the movement gained momentum, children felt pressured to join the Hitler Youth by their classmates and friends, as well as the propaganda of the time. All other youth groups were outlawed and disbanded or were melded into the Hitler Youth. Because of this many children joined the HJ voluntarily, but by 1936 it was compulsory for every German child over the age of 10 to belong to the Hitler Youth. Despite this, some parents would not allow their children to join as they didn’t agree with Hitler's ideals, but these parents were often sent to prison. These children were often expelled from schools or dragged from their houses and brutally beaten by young people their own age from the Hitler Youth.

One of the reasons for the creation of the Hitler Youth was to attract young recruits to serve Hitler. The HJ was successful in gaining members because it offered new opportunities like physical activity, adventure and a chance to meet and spend time with young people their own age. The reason that Hitler choose to draw the support of the young, as shown in this speech that he gave in 1939, "I am beginning with the young. We older ones are used up... We are cowardly and sentimental... But my magnificent youngsters! Are there finer ones anywhere in the world? Look at these young men and boys! What material! With them I can make a new world." And it was true that they were "material"; material that was shaped and moulded by the greatest dictator the world has ever seen.

Fun and adventurous activities were uncommon for children in the German population; because Germany was suffering economic depression as a repercussion of World War I. Germany had been ordered to pay 6600 million to pounds repay damage caused during WWI because they were deemed to have initiated the First World War German currency was worth virtually nothing. But by offering these opportunities children and parents of HJ members felt like they were going to be a part of Germany’s bright future under the rule of the Führer Adolf Hitler.

Another reason for the formation of the Hitler Youth was to promote Nazi ideology and to condition children into supporting Hitler. Nazi principles, values and beliefs consisted primarily of hatred of Jews and were presented to the children in a variety of different ways. A common way was teaching songs and chants with anti-Jewish lyrics, such as "Yes, when the Jewish blood splashes from the knives, things will go twice as well," "Death to Juden!" and "Kill the Jews!" This hatred of Jews, the supposed superiority of the Aryan race and the importance of the HJ to Germany’s future were also conveyed through speeches at mass youth rallies made by camp leaders and Hitler himself, for example, Hitler’s speech to the Hitler Youth members on Saturday the 10th of September 1938 at one of the Nuremburg rallies, "You, my youth, are our nation’s most precious guarantee for a great future, and you are destined to be the leaders of a glorious new order under the supremacy of National Socialism. Never forget that one day you will rule the world!"The Hitler Youth movement was a phenomenally successful and effective institute promoting Nazi ideology. Hitler indoctrinated thousands upon thousands of young German children into believing in his greatness, the superiority of the Germans, and the inferiority of the Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and black people. The Hitler Youth had 970,455 members at its peak, with 90% of Germany’s total population of 10 year olds enrolled in the HJ. Hitler was also successful in recruiting these men as soldiers after they reached 18. These soldiers were examples of Hitler’s perfect Aryan race; "slim and slender, swift as the greyhound, tough as leather, and as hard as Krupp steel," as Hitler required the German youth of the future to be. These soldiers killed millions of Jews and other enemies of the state throughout Hitler’s reign.

The Hitler Youth Movement was incredibly successful in promoting Nazi ideology in a variety of ways including speeches, songs and chants, war games and propaganda. These children went through excessive and persistent training to become physically strong and healthy, and as mentally unstable as Hitler himself. The resulting lack of tolerance, compassion and any sentimental connections with family or any other living being was instilled so thoroughly into each member that the children became incapable of independent thought. Those young Germans who were part of the Hitler Youth movement went on to fight and die for Hitler. The indoctrination of the German people was so complete that adults and children alike willingly accepted hatred and war as necessary.