After Adolf Hitler’s rise to chancellor in 1933, Nazi Germany had over 1 million children in youth movements created to spread fascist ideology throughout younger generations. Hitler was obsessed about using the youth as a driving force in his political agendas. Hitler stated, I am beginning with the young.
We older ones are used uprotten to the marrow. We have no unrestrained instinct left. The youth groups that were arranged were highly controversial and influenced the lives of boys and girls in many ways. Lisa Pine, the author of Girls in Uniform, investigated the impact a specific youth group had on the lives of young girls living in Nazi Germany. Another author that explored the topic of Hitler youth groups was Gerhard Rempel, who wrote the monograph Hitler’s Children: The Hitler Youth and the SS. These two authors had similar thoughts about several aspects of youth groups, however their opinions diverged on others.
Lisa Pine’s article, Girls in Uniform, focused on the youth group Bund Deutscher Madel (BDM). Many young girls would run away from home and join youth groups in order to escape traditional roles expected of women. However, the traditional roles were traded for strict authority and intense structure with everyday life when they joined BDM. Pine investigated the impact of Nazi Germany’s BDM on young women and what the constraints and advantages came with joining the BDM. Many simple freedoms were taken from the young girls in the BDM. For example, Pine writes, Special training manuals elaborated on physical training for girls illustrating sports activities and formation dances. No free or spontaneous sport was allowed. Any expression of individualistic movement that went against Nazi order was proscribed. Self-expression when a young girl is developing is highly important, so the BDM eliminating any individual thoughts or expressions is potentially harmful to her. An advantage of being part of a youth group would be to serve the country, and to be highly praised. Overall, Pine concluded that BDM did create a deep sense of Nationalism within young women, but she did not say if it was detrimental to the young women to be a part of something like this or not. However, the actions of the BDM were entirely for bettering the Nazi System as a whole. This is significant because the Nazi dictatorial regime was rooted into people’s lives and this created a way of life extremely different from the way people live their lives today, however, no one tried to terminate it back then.
Another author that focused on youth groups during Hitler’s reign was Gerhard Rempel. Rempel wrote about the multiple youth groups within Nazi Germany. He investigated what the role of the youth groups were in Germany and what influence the groups on Germany overall. In this analysis, he compares BDM to Boys and Girls Scouts in the United States. He writes, The HJ and BDM were more than a streamlined German version of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, decked out in knee-pants and brown shirts.1 This suggested that the BDM was not as intense and rigid as Pine lead the reader to believe in her article. The significance of Rempel’s argument shows how embellishments could have been made on all youth groups in Nazi Germany to make them seem terrible for preparing all children for combat, when few groups may have been not as extreme as youth groups like the OKW, who primarily focused on getting their children ready for war.
Pine and Rempel had similar and contrasting thoughts when writing about Hitler youth. Some of the similarities that the two shared were that Hitler youth groups targeted an entire generation of people shortly after he rose to power. The people in this generation were stripped of individual expression and freedom, and only could base their decisions of what was best for the Nazi regime. However, Pine felt like young girls were more affected by the rigid structure the BDM contained, and the girls were taken advantage of. For example, women’s sole purpose of child bearing was made clear to them, and that was the only reason that staying healthy and fit was their duty. Rempel did not pick a clear side, however he focused mainly on how the Nazi party rose to power through targeting the youth. This in return mainly pertained to men and how they were conditioned to be future leaders of the Nazi part. He states, Beginning as a movement of youth, the Nazi party after 1933 became all things to all men.1 After youth were targeted, this resulted in the spread of Nazi ideals throughout children’s homes, which could have influenced the rampant spread of fascism throughout the 1930’s.
After comparing and contrasting the views of both of these authors, the author that has the most convincing arguments for her opinion that Nazi youth groups impacted the country overall, as well as generation of young girls and women that joined the youth movement. Pine showed how women were viewed as being useful for procreation and took away any of their rights that made them a human being. Overall, the Hitler youth groups in Nazi Germany were not completely ethical to any gender. The groups stripped children of normal childhoods and used them for political matters and to gain momentum to spread beliefs of the Nazi Party.
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After Adolf Hitler’s rise to chancellor in 1933, Nazi Germany had over 1 million children in youth movements created to spread fascist ideology throughout younger generations. Hitler was obsessed about […]