Deutsches Jungvolk

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Deutsches Jungvolk
Flagge Deutsches Jungvolk.svg
Formation 1928
Extinction 1945
Type Political youth organisation
Region served
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Parent organization
Nazi Germany Nazi Party
Affiliations Hitlerjugend Allgemeine Flagge.svg Hitler Youth
Former name
Jungmannschaften

The Deutsches Jungvolk (German: "German Youth") was a youth organization in Nazi Germany for boys aged 10 to 14, and was a section of the Hitler Youth movement. Through a programme of outdoor activities, parades and sports, it aimed to indoctrinate its young members in the tenets of Nazi ideology. Membership became fully compulsory for eligible boys in 1939. By the end of World War II, some had become child soldiers.

Development[edit]

Deutsches Jungvolk fanfare trumpeters at a Nazi rally in the town of Worms in 1933. Their banners illustrate the Deutsches Jungvolk rune insignia.

The Deutsches Jungvolk or "DJ" (also "DJV") was founded in 1928 by Kurt Gruber under the title Jungmannschaften (Youth Teams) but was renamed Knabenschaft and finally Deutsches Jungvolk in der Hitler Jugend in March 1931. Following the enactment of the Law on the Hitler Youth on 1 December 1936,[1] boys had to be registered with the Reich Youth Office in the March of the year in which they would reach the age of ten; those who were found to be racially acceptable were expected to join the DJ. Although not compulsory, the failure of eligible boys to join the DJ was seen as a failure of civic responsibility on the part of their parents.[2] The regulations were tightened further by the Second Execution Order to the Law on the Hitler Youth ("Youth Service Regulation") on 25 March 1939, which made membership of the DJ or Hitler Jugend ("HJ") mandatory for all Germans between 10 and 18 years of age. Parents could be fined or imprisoned for failing to register their children. Boys were excluded if they had previously been found guilty of "dishonourable acts", if they were found by "a medical officer of the HJ or of a physician commissioned by the HJ" to be "unfit for service", or if they were Jewish. Ethnic Poles or Danes living in the Reich (this was before the outbreak of war) could apply for exemption, but were not excluded.[3]

Training and activities[edit]

The DJ and HJ copied many of the activities of the various German youth organizations that it replaced. For many boys, the DJ was the only way to participate in sports, camping and hiking.[4] However the main purpose of the DJ was the inculcation of boys in the political principles of National Socialism. Members were obliged to attend Nazi party rallies and parades. On a weekly basis, there was the Heimabende, a Wednesday evening meeting for political, racial and ideological indoctrination. Boys were encouraged to inform the authorities if their parents' beliefs were contrary to Nazi dogma.[5]

Once Germany was at war, basic pre-military preparation increased; by the end of 1940, DJ members were required to be trained in target shooting with smallbore rifles and to take part in "terrain manoeuvres".[6]

Organization[edit]

Deutsches Jungvolk recruits of 1933 learn fire fighting techniques

Recruits were called Pimpfen, a colloquial word meaning "scamps" or "brats" but literally meaning "farts".[7] Groups of 10 boys were called a Jugenschaft with leaders chosen from the older boys; four of these formed a unit called a Jungzug. These units were further grouped into companies and battalions, each with their own leaders, who were usually young adults.[2]

Recruits were required to swear a version of the Hitler oath:

"In the presence of this blood banner which represents our Führer, I swear to devote all my energies and my strength to the savior of our country, Adolf Hitler. I am willing and ready to give up my life for him, so help me God."[8]

Der Pimpf, the Nazi magazine for boys, was particularly aimed at those in the Deutsches Jungvolk, with adventure and propaganda.[9]

Uniform and emblems[edit]

Deutsches Jungvolk recruits line up for roll call at a rally in Berlin, in 1934

The DJ uniform was very similar to the Hitler Jugend equivalent. The summer uniform consisted of a black shorts and tan shirt with pockets, worn with a rolled black neckerchief secured with a woggle, usually tucked under the collar.[10] Headgear originally consisted of a beret, but when this was discarded by the HJ in 1934, the DJ adopted a side cap with coloured piping which denoted their unit.[11]

The emblem of the DJ was a white Sieg rune on a black background, which symbolised "victory".[12] This was worn on the uniform in the form of a cloth badge, sewn onto the upper-left sleeve of the shirt.[13]

Wartime[edit]

12-year-old Jungvolk platoon commander, Alfred Zech (from Goldenau in Upper Silesia) earned the Iron Cross Second Class in 1945 for rescuing wounded soldiers whilst under enemy fire.

In addition to their pre-military training, the DJ contributed to the German war effort by collecting recyclable materials such as paper and scrap metal, and by acting as messengers for the civil defence organisations. By 1944, the Hitler Jugend formed part of the Volkssturm, an unpaid, part-time militia, and often formed special HJ companies within Volkssturm battalions. In theory, service in the Volkssturm was limited to boys over 16 years of age, however much younger boys, including Jungvolk members, often volunteered or were coerced into serving in these units; even joining the "Tank Close-Combat Squads" which were expected to attack enemy tanks with hand-held weapons.[14] Eye witness reports of the Battle of Berlin in April 1945 record instances of young boys fighting in their DJ uniforms, complete with short trousers.[15]

Disbandment[edit]

With the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945, the organization de facto ceased to exist. On 10 October 1945, it was outlawed by the Allied Control Council along with other Nazi Party organizations. Under Section 86 of the German Criminal Code, the Hitler Youth is an "unconstitutional organisation" and the distribution or public use its symbols, except for educational or research purposes, are not permitted.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ German History in Documents and Images (GHDI) - Law on the Hitler Youth (December 1, 1936)
  2. ^ a b Lepage, Jean-Denis (2009), Hitler Youth, 1922-1945: An Illustrated History, McFarland & Company, ISBN 978-0-7864-3935-5 (p. 34)
  3. ^ German History in Documents and Images (GHDI) - Second Execution Order to the Law on the Hitler Youth ("Youth Service Regulation") (March 25, 1939)
  4. ^ Lepage, pp. 70-72
  5. ^ Lepage, pp. 83-84
  6. ^ Lepage, p. 125
  7. ^ Heberer, Patricia (2011) Children During the Holocaust, AltaMira Press, ISBN 978-0-7951-1984-0 (p. 265)
  8. ^ The History Place - Hitler Youth - Timeline and Organization
  9. ^ Material from "Der Pimpf"
  10. ^ Stephens, Frederick John (1973) Hitler Youth: History, Organisation, Uniforms and Insignia, Almark Publishing, ISBN 0855241047 (p.43)
  11. ^ Stephens (p. 8)
  12. ^ Stephens (p. 73)
  13. ^ Lepage, p. 62
  14. ^ Thomas, Nigel (1992), Wehrmacht Auxiliary Forces, Osprey Publishing, ISBN 1-85532-257-9 (p. 46)
  15. ^ McNab, Chris (2011), Hitler's Armies: A History of the German War Machine 1939-45, Osprey Publishing, ISBN 978-1849086479 (p. 399)

External links[edit]