Table of Contents
2 Hitler’s Way to Power
2.1 Ideologies and Aims
2.2 Educational Work of Hitler
3 Everyday Life of Children and Youth
3.1 The Hitler Youth
3.1.1 Organization and Structure
3.1.2 Joining Incentives
3.1.3 Educational Focus
3.1.4 Impact on the Wehrmacht
3.2 Rejection and Resistance
3.3 The League of German Girls
5 Literature and List of Sources
In the time between 1933 and 1945 the National Socialists led by Adolf Hitler reigned in Germany and formed a dictatorship. This time is mainly characterized by the Holocaust and the general racism of Germans in the Third Reich.
The following term paper deals with the life of children and youth in the Third Reich. Influenced by the National Socialism and Adolf Hitler’s ideologies of a “perfect German”, the youth was taught racism and Nazi ideologies. You can say, they were brainwashed and they were educated to fight for their country in wars. The adolescent believed they were doing the right thing by joining youth organizations and going to Nazi elite schools, such as the Adolf-Hitler-School. What the youth was taught in those establishments back then seems unconceivable to us today. The young people were educated to become racists and warriors. They were even convinced that it was good to be that kind of person and Germany would be proud of them.
The central question I want to treat with this term paper is: How was it possible to control the mind of the German People and leading them to go to war?
2 Hitler’s Way to Power
After Germany lost the World War One in 1918, Anton Drexler established the German Workers' Party1 in the Weimar Republic. Headed by Adolf Hitler, the party was the leading force between 1933 and 1945. Hitler established an unrestricted dictatorship in place of the parliamentary democracy of the Weimar Republic2.3 The Third Reich was founded and year by year the party, now called the NSDAP4, gained more control over schools and media to influence the German people. The National Socialists more or less controlled the people’s mind. Hitler had probably imagined his way to autocracy to be more difficult. In fact, he managed to rise almost effortless.
2.1 Ideologies and Aims
The National Socialist ideology can be described by four keywords: anti-Semitism, racial ideology, habitat ideology, and the idea of the national community with the leadership principle.5
Anti-Semitism is the hostility to Jews. It is the first thing coming to people’s mind when thinking of the time of National Socialism in Germany. Approximately six million Jews lost their life during the cruel time of the Holocaust. The reason for the hatred against the Jewish people was more or less religious. Hitler blamed the Jews for Jesus’ death. They were depicted as evil and Hitler wanted them to suffer. Besides being absurd to let innocent people suffer for what happened over 1900 years ago, we nowadays know that it hadn’t been the responsibility of the Jews, but the former Romans because they had handed down the death sentence to Jesus.
Based on the Social Darwinism6, the racial ideology was Hitler’s main ideology. It said, that the people should be divided into “Master Races”, of which the German race was considered as “the best”, and the “inferior” races, consisting of non-German races and people with disabilities. The Social Darwinism also led to the habitat ideology. In Hitler’s opinion, the Germans were the “best” race and therefore should have more claim on territory, so he intended to expand the Third Reich eastbound. His long-term aim was to dominate the whole world.
The leadership principle describes the politic system “from top to bottom”, which means that Hitler was in command and the people had to follow. He extended his power by filling management positions with National Socialists, so they would definitely obey his orders without questioning.7
To sum it up, Hitler’s aim was to gain world domination by building a better “Master Race”. He wanted to annihilate the “inferior” races to gain habitat for the “Master Race”, the pure Germans. His thinking was based on Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, which he transferred to humans (Social Darwinism). The Germans were thrilled by National Socialism because it apparently combined two ideologies: national strength (nationalism) and a social state (socialism).8
2.2 Educational Work of Hitler
Hitler knew, he could influence the people with propagandas, scare them through terror, or dazzle them by economic and political success, thus convincing the folk to vote and support him. But he could never “delete” the people’s memories of the time before the National Socialism. Because of this, Hitler wanted to get control of the youth. To reach this goal, he had to control the education as well and this is exactly what he did.
In 1936 already 96% of all educators9 belonged to the National Socialist Teachers League10. This league of teachers for public schools taught the youth ideologies and principles set by Hitler. His main principle was not the mere “filling” of the children’s heads with a great deal of knowledge, but to shape a healthy and well trained body. Secondly followed the education of mental abilities.
The required culturing of an optimal healthy body was implemented in youth organizations, in schools, and since 1934 in about 43,000 sport clubs. The curriculum for mental education included mainly to fill the whole lessons with the pseudo derivation of the Third Reich from the heroic spirit and the idea of the leadership. The aim was to fascinate the youth and to arouse the desire to join the “Wehrmacht”11. Hitler was shown as a hero in school in terms of being the leader of the Nazi “movement”. Biology for example was filled with racial and heredity teachings to instill racism or hate against not “pureblooded” humans.
“Die gesamte Bildungs- und Erziehungsarbeit des völkischen Staates muß ihre Krönung darin finden, daß sie den Rassesinn und das Rassegefühl instinkt- und verstand gemäß im Herz und Gehirn der ihr anvertrauten Jugend hinein brennt. Es soll kein Knabe und kein Mädchen die Schule verlassen ohne zur letzten Erkenntnis über die Notwendigkeit und das Wesen der Blutreinheit geführt worden zu sein.“ (Hitler, 1925, S. 475 f.)
Beginning with Potsdam, Plön, and Köslin on April 19th 1933, the regime started building “Nationalsozialistische Erziehungsanstalten”12 directed and managed by Bernhard Rust (1883-1945)13. Year by year more and more schools were built. In 1937 “Adolf-Hitler-Schools” were founded and built from then on. These schools should arise to compete with other educational institutes in every NSDAP “Gau”14. Selected students from the age of twelve were trained there for a period of six years to become the leader’s offspring, of which a quarter afterwards continued their education on the "Ordensburgen"15 for future elite.16
1 German: Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, DAP
2 existing since 1871
3 compare (Mommsen, 2005, S. 19)
4 German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP), English: National Socialist German Workers’ Party
5 compare (Die NS-Zeit - die nationalsozialistische Ideologie, 2016)
6 named after Charles Darwin, English naturalist and geologist, best known for his contributions to evolutionary theory
7 compare (Kamusella, 2016)
8 compare (Lerntippsammlung, 2016)
9 teachers, professors, etc.
10 German: Nationalsozialistischer Lehrerbund
11 The unified armed forces of Nazi Germany
12 English: “National Socialist educational institutions” à Napola
13 minister of education
15 elite school for physical- and character education of junior leaders
16 compare (Brechtken, 2004, S. 75 ff.)
- Quote paper
- Paul Guyet (Author), 2016, Influence on the Children and Youth in the Third Reich by National Socialism and Ideologies, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/317400