HITLER YOUTH MEMBERSHIP BADGE
German HJ with pinback silver finish and enameled
The Hitlerjugend, (Hitler Youth) HJ for short started from the youth group called Grossdeutsche Jugendbewegung or Greater German Youth Movement. Renamed in July 1926 to the Hitler-Jugen, Bund Deutscher Arbeiterjugend or Hitler Youth, League of German Worker Youth. It was a boy’s youth organization for boys between 14 – 18 years of age. There were a large number of youth groups in Germany after WW1 ranging from political to religious. Hitler transitioned these groups from innocent youth movements, to political groups focusing on Hitler doctrine. It became a partial paramilitary organization and was officially an integral part of the SA.
A junior branch was also setup for boys aged 10 – 14 called Deutsches Jungvolk (DJV) and the girls from ages 10 to 18 we also given their own organization called the League of German Girls (BDM).
Temporarily band by the Chancellor in 1932 to try to stop political violence it was reinstated relatively quickly as a way to appease Hitler who was becoming more and more important in the political arena.
Though members of the Hitler Youth were taught the Nazi ideology, including racism, they initially had activities similar to that of the Boys Scouts which including camping and hiking and academic studies. Over time though many activities became more military related such as weapons training, war tactics and physical training and fitness. Much of the training was designed to undermine the traditional values and structures of German society and the privileged. Preparing the Hitler Youth for joining the German Nazi army.
Organized into corps the also had local cells on a community level. Training academies were designed to create future officers with specialized training for each corps from the Wehrmacht to the Kriegsmarine.
The Hitler Youth were also used to spy on religious class and bible studies along with breaking up and interfering with Church groups.
By 1930 there were over 25,000 boys enlisted in the Hitlerjugend, and by the end of 1932, it was at 107,956. The Nazis came to power in 1933, and the membership increased dramatically to 2,300,000 members by the end of that year. Much of these increases came from forcible takeovers of other youth organizations.
By December 1936, Hitler Youth membership had reached over five million. Membership then became mandatory and by 1940 there were eight million members. If parents refused to allow their boys to join, they were subjected to investigation.
After the war the Allies permanently disbanded the Hitler Youth. Though some of the group were suspected of war crimes there were not prosecuted because they were still children.