During the rule of the Nazi Party over Germany, virtually every young person was involved in the Hitler Youth or its associated organizations for girls. The Hitler Youth extended not only through Germany but also across many of the occupied territories in the Nazi “Reich,” or realm. The purpose of the Hitler Youth was to ensure that young people would adhere to the principles of Nazism in the future.
Becoming part of the Hitler Youth was not necessarily done by choice. Just as adults were expected to become part of the Nazi Party, children were expected to become part of the Hitler Youth. In fact, the Hitler Youth was considered a Nazi Party organization that conferred upon young people that same political affiliation.
Some people have described the Hitler Youth as similar to a “scout” organization. It was based on the racist Nazi ideas about the “ideal” German boy. In their quest to become ideal Germans, young boys would learn various survival skills. Over time, this would also progress to things such as shooting and competitive athletics.
When a young German man had finished with his time in the Hitler Youth, he was intended to be fully prepared to serve in the German army. This was believed to be a very important part of making sure that young people would also be committed National Socialists.
During their time in the Hitler Youth, children learned about Hitler as a sort of benevolent father figure who was always watching. Children were intended to consider Hitler as more important than their own father or family.
It was important to the Nazi leaders that the Hitler Youth be widespread, because there was no other way for the secret police organizations to get inside many families. Although most of the victims of the Holocaust were Jewish, the establishment of the Hitler Youth was a way to further torment and victimize those who were not loyal to Hitler by making their own children spy against them.
Within Germany, the Hitler Youth program was an extremely detailed and regimented paramilitary organization. However, in other areas such as Poland and Hungary, it was much less well-organized and had less power to inspire fear. Children were forced into the service of the Hitler Youth without knowing or understanding what it all really meant.
By the end of World War II, the German military was so ragged that it recruited children directly from this organization.
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