The Hitler Youth

Discussion in 'WW2 Militaria' started by James S, Aug 4, 2010.

  1. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    As you all will know I have no affection for Herr Hitler or his lifetime achievements and am quite happy and content to see his party and its perverted values consigned to histories dustbin in the misplaced hope that we as a species may be able to take something of the "warning from history" ( Karl Jaspers) Karl Jaspers (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) so aptly described them as being.

    For some reason and I cannot say why to be honest what they left behind does hold some attraction to me and I do find this disturbing for I have absolutely no leanings in that direction at all yet I cannot quite grasp how a radical extremist party like that could achieve government as much by "good (bad) luck ,synchronicity , spin and intimidation for they certainly got the breaks when they needed them at just the right time - it was as if the Devil himself was batting for them.
    (And perhaps the same devil was batting for Joe Stalin for he certainly was no better).

    Hitler's appeal to women and the youth of Germany was certainly pushed by the party's spin doctor supreme and the "fuhrer cult" was well cultivated and managed and as part of it came a control and regulation which pervaded all levels of Germany's cultural and social norms everyone was there to serve "the fuhrer" and he was presented as "God's gift to Germany".
    This must sound insane but at the time in Germany to many it was accepted and those who could not accept it kept quiet out of fear and in the hope that this dreadful man would have his day and be gone.

    His appeal to Germany's youth which he indoctrinated put in uniform and used so well to promote so called "German values" , the images of thousands of youngsters playing , camping and assembled for inspection by Hitler (as seen in "Triumph of The Will" or in the courtyard at Landsberg Castle) are powerful even today.

    Over the past 2-3 years I had been looking for a "largish" "Hitler Youth Banner" and had "missed" one or two as they seem to sell very quickly.

    This banner can only have been constructed for use outside and odds on it may well have been made for use in a stadium although I am careful not to construct a history for the item in my own mind.
    It is just "shy" of 30 feet in length and is the full of my two arms width in diameter 5 ft 6 inches.
    The top end is reinforced and has a sleeve which allows it to be hung on a pole and hoisted , the bottom end is heavily reinforced at each corner which again indicated its use outside.
    The swastika is a multi piece construction 9 pieces in all sewn on a white square background ( 4 ft 6 inches point to point) which is in turn sewn on to the banner , it is double sided. ( A labour intensive product to produce , which again makes you think of how much effort was put into the production of party ( now State) emblems , uniforms and paraphernalia , Germany was being made anew in the image of the Fuhrer's thoughts).
    The main body is three piece red and white heavily sewn together , I must admit I just don't have the neck to take this outside and lay it out.

    The arm band does give size some context.

    A piece of history - yes it certainly is , makes me wonder what has it seen , who has seen it , what went through the heads of the youngsters assembled beneath it , what in turn became of them , God alone knows for they were sent to fight men like our own "Sapper" in Normandy.

    Hitler has some style ( if you can call it that) and his powers of seduction were very powerful but I do feel an element of disgust when I look at this banner both for what it represents and what became of that generation of youngsters - they deserved much better than the pied piper who led them.
    Kypling's "Common Form" does spring to mind.
     

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  2. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    James,

    I read your post with interest and it is no wonder that Hitler was well received by the masses.

    He promised them work, prosperity, most things that people at that time did not have.

    Yes he was lucky to achieve the electoral victory, but his oratory left people mesmerised.

    When I attended management courses, the worlds best speakers were mentioned, Churchill and Hitler always figured highly on the list.

    Fortunately the UK was blessed with another great Orator named Winston Churchill.

    Both Hitler and Churchill had the ability to hold their audience spellbound,
    but in Hitler's case, when you add the Party radio coverage and no other, then it is little wonder that his power and popularity grew and grew.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  3. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Hitler had the great knack of saying a lot but actually saying very little , I remember seeing one clip of him rebuking those who asked him what his policies were , he made no bones about it and said "I have none" , going on to say "yours didn't work so don't be critical of me for saying - we have none" and the crowd loved it - it was not what he said but how he said it and what it created in the minds of those who heard it.
    You have to love management courses :) you are lucky to be free of such things.
     
  4. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    James

    The Hitler Youth who I met one fateful Friday the 13th didn't resemble their poster images one iota and were certainly nothing like the one depicted in your last poster, entiled "Officer of tomorrow".

    They were dirty, scruffy, exhausted to the point of collapse and patently in danger of soiling their trousers when Busty flushed them out of their hiding place, as my earlier post below describes :

    While I remember

    Friday 13th. April 1945
    Moved over Santerno. Some M.G. nuisance and one H.E. about twenty yards away. Bags of prisoners, Kiss from Signora. "Liberatoris !". Chasing after tedeschis with 30 browning blazing!

     
  5. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Ron,

    Thanks for the postscript, as ever, it makes good reading.

    I could't help but think of the scenario and the words "Caught with your pants down"

    Just glad that you survived to tell the tale.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  6. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Tom

    Just glad that you survived to tell the tale.

    Me too :)

    Ron
     
  7. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Ron , thank you for balance on the propaganda image - youngsters of that age should not have been in uniform , Herr Hitler was determined to fight to the last of them .

    A friend in "Oz" sent me a series of photos taken in Austria - the local Hitler Youth leader took his "recruits" into the woods and very sensibly surrendered them to the first Allied troops he met rather than have them thrown into a battle in a war already lost.

    Normandy - when you walk through la cambe you can see the reward earned by many an early grave , all such a waste.

    "You must spread some reputation around before giving it to Ron Goldstein again"
     
  8. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Yes, after a while they stopped looking like the poster boys. And I suppose these were the lucky ones.

    lixo.jpg
     
  9. Fireman

    Fireman Discharged

    Human beings are well known for their gullibility!! People are so ready to believe almost anything it is quite frightening. The ability to think and analyse in the present day appears to be beyond most, obviously in the thirties it was the same. Me, cynical? perish the thought!
     
  10. Nicola_G

    Nicola_G Senior Member

    I read about Hitler in the book by AJP Taylor, whilst at school and I couldn't believe how he was able to capture people's attention and loyalty. I can't remember all the details of the book now, but from what I remember after the Treaty of Versailles in 1918, Germany was put in such a position by the Allies (ie the UK and America) - can't remember the exact details, that they were not allowed built certain technology, harsh financial terms were put on them and other constraints. This led to feelings of frustration, high inflation, unemployment and other ills, leaving the German people ripe for a 'Saviour' who would restore their Dignity, Pride etc and Hitler proved to be that person. As one of the posters said above, he was in the right place at the right time.
     
  11. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    There was a myth about the Hitler Youth which others of that era record differently.The newsreels of the events in Normandy show the individuals when they were captured and they proved to be no different to anyone else.They did not know what to expect and had the same fears and anxiety as normal people.Like others in the Waffen SS,many were glad to be out of it and their first motivation was to save their skins.Many tried to hide their Nazi association by stripping off their uniforms if they got the chance.Mind you, it was a different story when they were on top.

    But having said that,there were the diehards who had been steeped in Hitler's ideology and had attended the Junker schools such at that at Bad Tolz and regarded themselves as being on the fasttrack for posts within the party and its administration.These were still the disciples of the Nazi party machine and postwar had to adapt to the new order of democracy.Some to the end, were not able to completely shake off the ideology and considered the war in the east as a good war.
     
  12. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Harry
    Some to the end, were not able to completely shake off the ideology and considered the war in the east as a good war.

    Yes that does tend to be forgotten and those who do present the "Icebreaker" argument that "Stalin was about to attack in the West" .
    A war to save "the West" - a war to enslave the East , Hitler / Stalin they were something of a Janus figure in the end....one genocidal individual is much the same as another , same mentality different uniform.

    I must get hold of something substantive to read on how the HJ functioned and what the experience was like for its membership - unfortunately some of what has been published is very expensive and hard to obtain.
    ( But not on Amazon !).
     
  13. Michael Enright

    Michael Enright Junior Member

    Ron,

    A great story.

    As a general observation, I would like to hear what contributors to this post think of my conclusion that Hitler alone could not possibly have mesmerised, hypnotised and stared-down a whole nation without a broader background sentiment? I sometimes feel that the concept of one man, gifted politician and orator though he may be, actually leading a compliant population into war is possibly at odds with what really was going on.

    My bet is that there were dozens, hundreds, thousands of possible 'Hitlers' but the light somehowfell on him. Sure he led them, but he seems to have done it with a lot of support.

    Hitler gets too much credit / discredit for everything that happened.

    I completed a subject a couple of years ago entitled 'Hitler's Germay'. I came away thinking it was also 'Germany's Hitler'.

    Michael
     
  14. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Have you read Ian Kershaw's "Hitler" vols. 1 'Hubris' & 2 'Nemesis' ? This should contain quite a fuller reply to your query than I can ever hope to provide, but yes, he had a lot of help especially from Dr. Joseph Göbbels and his propaganda apparatus. Also Göbbels was no mean speaker as well, quite an agitator. That man was to my eyes the only ultimately competent Nazi: his work still endures.

    The other Nazi leaders tended to be good speakers, and remember this was a time with no TV. Radio or the cinema weekly newsreels at most. Means of spoken expression required different techniques, and Göbbels really told the others how to do it.
     
  15. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Michael

    As a general observation, I would like to hear what contributors to this post think of my conclusion that Hitler alone could not possibly have mesmerised, hypnotised and stared-down a whole nation without a broader background sentiment? I sometimes feel that the concept of one man, gifted politician and orator though he may be, actually leading a compliant population into war is possibly at odds with what really was going on.

    My bet is that there were dozens, hundreds, thousands of possible 'Hitlers' but the light somehowfell on him. Sure he led them, but he seems to have done it with a lot of support.

    Hitler gets too much credit / discredit for everything that happened.


    Without wishing to move the discussion on this particular thread away from the Hitler Youth theme I have to say that, strictly by coincidence, I happened to be re-reading Laurence Rees's "The Nazis- A warning from history" and this very theme is discussed at length.

    On Page 53, discussing what he describes as "working towards the Fuhrer", first coined by a Nazi Food Minister, one Werner Willikens in 1934, it points towards a situation where the "people" should be striving to do what the Fuhrer wants, a la Henry II saying "who will rid me of this turbulent priest" (only for "priest" read "Jews").

    I am not necessarily accepting Rees's theory which, for me anyway, seems to seek to downplay Hitler's role and therefore his ultimate responsibilty for subsequent events.

    Back to Hitler Youth :)

    Ron
     
  16. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Za.
    Have you read Ian Kershaw's "Hitler" vols. 1 'Hubris' & 2 'Nemesis' ? This should contain quite a fuller reply to your query than I can ever hope to provide, but yes, he had a lot of help especially from Dr. Joseph Göbbels and his propaganda apparatus. Also Göbbels was no mean speaker as well, quite an agitator. That man was to my eyes the only ultimately competent Nazi: his work still endures.



    Your reply Za is almost what I was going to write myself , it was much more than one man and careful expert manipulation of what Kershaw called "The Hitler Myth" building and selling him played no small part in the rise of the fortunes of "the party".

    The 'Hitler Myth': Image and Reality in the Third Reich: Amazon.co.uk: Ian Kershaw: Books

    A very good read.

    Michael Enright
    I sometimes feel that the concept of one man, gifted politician and orator though he may be, actually leading a compliant population into war is possibly at odds with what really was going on.


    The German people did not want war in 1938 nor did they want war in 1939 , the main driving force for war was Hitler .
    But as Ron points out this is another subject entirely although allied to Hitler's use of imagery , aesthetics and spectacle - part of that was the HJ movement.
     
  17. Michael Enright

    Michael Enright Junior Member

    Thanks for these observations. I will get that Rees book one day, Ron. Sorry if I dragged things off-topic a bit.

    Michael
     

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