Nazi aims and policies towards the young

Photo of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Youth leader Baldur von Schirach on their arrival in the stadium for the Hitler Youth rally

Young people were very important to Hitler and the Nazis. Hitler spoke of his Third Reich lasting for a thousand years and to achieve this he would have to ensure German children were thoroughly indoctrinated into Nazi ideology.

To this end, from the age of 10 boys and girls were encouraged to join the Nazis’ youth organisation, the Hitler Youth (the girls’ wing of which was called the League of German Maidens). Membership from age 10 was made compulsory in 1936 and by 1939 90 per cent of German boys aged 14 and over were members.

The activities and aims of the Hitler Youth and the League of German Maidens.
The Hitler YouthThe League of German Maidens
Its aim was to prepare German boys to be future soldiersIts aim was to prepare German girls for future motherhood
Boys wore military-style uniformsGirls wore a uniform of blue skirt, white blouse and heavy marching shoes
Activities centred on physical exercise and rifle practice, as well as political indoctrinationGirls undertook physical exercise, but activities mainly centred on developing domestic skills such as sewing and cooking

Nazi control of the young through education

As well as influencing the beliefs of young Germans through the Hitler Youth, schools indoctrinated young people into the political and racial ideas of Nazism.

All teachers had to join the Nazi Teachers’ Association, which vetted them for political and racial suitability.

The curriculum was altered to reflect Nazi ideology and priorities:

  • History - lessons included a course on the rise of the Nazi Party.
  • Biology - lessons were used to teach Nazi racial theories of evolution in eugenics.
  • Physical Education - German schoolchildren had five one-hour sports lessons every week.
  • Chemistry and Mathematics - were downgraded in importance.

Again, the aim was to brainwash children so that they would grow up accepting Nazi ideas without question.