Did the Nazis succeed in winning the hearts and minds of young people?
Hitler Youth • Purpose to educate young people “ physically, intellectually, and morally in the spirit of National Socialism to serve the nation and the community” Hitler • Membership (compulsory in 1939) stood at 8 million • Parents could be fined or imprisoned if their children did not attend. In some instances children could be taken away from parents.
There is some evidence the HJ was in crisis in the late 1930s • There was a shortage of leaders. • Teachers and parents were concerned about the effects of the HJ on motivation, homework and discipline. • They were also afraid of children reporting them to the Gestapo. • There was increasing emphasis on military training.
Rebellious Teenagers • Some young people defied the Nazis by listening to banned American Jazz. • They smoked, danced, mixed with Jews. • In some cases gangs fought with the HJ. • They were known as Jazzers, Swing youth Raving Dudes, Navajos. • The Nazis referred to them as “Edelweiss Pirates” 12 of whom were hanged in Cologne during the war.
Historians’ views • “95% of German youth backed the Nazis” Wilt . • However not all historians agree, Peukert claims that “The second half of the 1930s reveals a growing crisis in the Hitler Youth”
Education • “ difficult to say just how successful the Nazi reshaping of education…. It must have varied from school to school” Mosse. • Nazi indoctrination was able to miseducate and misuse a whole generation of young people” Fischer.
Schools • Teachers had to belong to the Nazi Teachers’ League or were sacked. • By 1937 97% of teachers had joined. • They had to attend inservice courses on Nazi ideology. • Textbooks were rewritten to promote Nazi ideals. • Mein Kampf became required reading
Nazi themes were presented through every subject. • German, PE, History and Biology were given special emphasis. • There was organised sport every afternoon from 2 – 6 pm.
Training Future Nazis • Napolas The National Political Educational institutes . • Run by the SS • For students aged 10-18 • Purpose to train leaders for the military and administration • Significantly Nazi leaders did not send their own children there.
Special leadership schools • Adolf Hitler Schools • To train party leaders of the future • Order Castles for the best students • Purpose political indoctrination and physical training to produce the elite leaders of the future Nazi State.
Universities • Numbers of students at university fell. • 1,200 lecturers were dismissed for racial or political reasons. • Lecturers had to join the Nazi association and attend a six week training camp. • Students has to join the German students’ League and attend twice weekly sessions on ideological training • By the 1940s the Nazis realised the adverse effect this had and argued that they needed more scientists to compete with other countries in research
Conclusions • What National socialist training produced however were duller, stupider, though healthier individuals…. Incapable of providing political leadership or contributing the intellectual and technical skills necessary for running a modern industrial society” Sax and Kuntz.