Deutsches Jungvolk

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German Youngsters
in the Hitler Youth
Deutsches Jungvolk in der Hitlerjugend
Flagge Deutsches Jungvolk.svg
TypePolitical youth organisation
Legal statusDefunct, illegal
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Weimar Republic Weimar Republic
Parent organization
Flag of the NSDAP (1920–1945).svg Nazi Party
AffiliationsHitlerjugend Allgemeine Flagge.svg Hitler Youth
Formerly called

The Deutsches Jungvolk in der Hitlerjugend (pronounced [ˈdɔʏtʃəs ˈjʊŋfɔlk]; DJ, also DJV; German for "German Youngsters in the Hitler Youth") was the separate section for boys aged 10 to 14 of the Hitler Youth organisation in Nazi Germany. 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. After the end of the war in 1945, both the Deutsches Jungvolk and its parent organization, the Hitler Youth, ceased to exist.


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 was founded in 1928 by Kurt Gruber under the title Jungmannschaften ("Youth Teams"), but it was renamed Knabenschaft and finally Deutsches Jungvolk in der Hitlerjugend in March 1931.[1] Both the Deutsches Jungvolk (DJ or DJV) and Hitler Youth (HJ) modelled parts of their uniform and programme on the German Scouting associations and other youth groups,[2] which were then banned by the Nazi government during 1933 and 1934.[3]

Following the enactment of the Law on the Hitler Youth on 1 December 1936,[4] 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.[1]

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 Youth 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 to be "unfit for service" for medical reasons, 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.[5]

Training and activities[edit]

Deutsches Jungvolk recruits of 1933 learn fire fighting techniques

In spite of its recruits' early age the Jungvolk had an intensely political role. In 1938, the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler described enrolment from childhood in organisations associated with his party as an important part of indoctrinating young Germans with the regime's worldview, commenting:

These boys and girls enter our organizations with their ten years of age, and often for the first time get a little fresh air; after four years of the Young Folk they go on to the Hitler Youth, where we have them for another four years . . . And even if they are still not complete National Socialists, they go to Labor Service and are smoothed out there for another six, seven months . . . And whatever class consciousness or social status might still be left . . . the Wehrmacht will take care of that.[6]

The DJ and HJ copied many of the activities of the various German youth organizations that they replaced. For many boys, the DJ was the only way to participate in sports, camping, and hiking.[7] 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.[8]

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 small-bore rifles and to take part in "terrain manoeuvres".[9]


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

Recruits were called Pimpfen, a colloquial word from Upper German for "boy", "little rascal", "scamp", or "rapscallion" (originally "little fart").[10][11] Groups of 10 boys were called a Jungenschaft, 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.[1] Der Pimpf, the Nazi magazine for boys, was particularly aimed at those in the Deutsches Jungvolk, with adventure and propaganda.[12]

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."[13]

Uniform and emblems[edit]

The DJ uniform was very similar to the Hitler Youth 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.[14] Headgear originally consisted of a beret, but when this was discarded by the HY in 1934, the DJ adopted a side cap with coloured piping which denoted their unit.[15]

The emblem of the DJ was a white Sieg rune on a black background, which symbolised "victory".[16] This was worn on the uniform in the form of a cloth badge, sewn onto the upper-left sleeve of the shirt.[17]


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 Youth 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.[18] 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.[19] Adolf Hitler's last public appearance was on 20 April 1945, when he presented Iron Crosses to defenders of Berlin, including several boys, some as young as twelve years old.[20]


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 of its symbols, except for educational or research purposes, are not permitted.[citation needed]

Cultural depictions[edit]

The organisation or its members have occasionally featured in fictional works about Nazi Germany and alternative histories where it won the second world war. In the film Jojo Rabbit (2019), an American comedy-drama film written and directed by Taika Waititi, based on Christine Leunens's book Caging Skies, the main character, Johannes “Jojo” Betzler played by Roman Griffin Davis and his friend, Yorki, are members of the Jungvolk. In Robert Harris's novel Fatherland, the protagonist's son Pili, a Pimpf, denounces him.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Lepage, Jean-Denis (2009), Hitler Youth, 1922-1945: An Illustrated History Archived 2016-04-25 at the Wayback Machine, McFarland & Company, ISBN 978-0-7864-3935-5 (p. 34)
  2. ^ Kitchen, Martin (2008). The Third Reich: Charisma and Community. Routledge. p. 146. ISBN 978-1-4058-0169-0.
  3. ^ Laqueur, Walter (1984). Young Germany: A History of the German Youth Movement. Transaction Books. p. 201. ISBN 0-88738-002-6. Archived from the original on 2020-10-09. Retrieved 2020-09-23.
  4. ^ "German History in Documents and Images (GHDI) - Law on the Hitler Youth (December 1, 1936)". Archived from the original on February 2, 2014. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  5. ^ "German History in Documents and Images (GHDI) - Second Execution Order to the Law on the Hitler Youth ("Youth Service Regulation") (March 25, 1939)". Archived from the original on February 21, 2014. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  6. ^ Fritzsche, Peter (2009). Life and Death in the Third Reich. Harvard University Press. pp. 98–99. ISBN 978-0-674-03374-0.
  7. ^ Lepage, pp. 70-72
  8. ^ Lepage, pp. 83-84
  9. ^ Lepage, p. 125
  10. ^ [1] Archived 2015-05-01 at the Wayback Machine Dudens Rechtschreibung.
  11. ^ Heberer, Patricia (2011) Children During the Holocaust Archived 2016-05-17 at the Wayback Machine, AltaMira Press, ISBN 978-0-7591-1984-0 (p. 265)
  12. ^ Material from "Der Pimpf" Archived 2010-12-25 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "The History Place - Hitler Youth - Timeline and Organization". Archived from the original on 2013-05-04. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
  14. ^ Stephens, Frederick John (1973) Hitler Youth: History, Organisation, Uniforms and Insignia Archived 2016-05-02 at the Wayback Machine, Almark Publishing, ISBN 0855241047 (p.43)
  15. ^ Stephens (p. 8)
  16. ^ Stephens (p. 73)
  17. ^ Lepage, p. 62
  18. ^ Thomas, Nigel (1992), Wehrmacht Auxiliary Forces Archived 2016-04-24 at the Wayback Machine, Osprey Publishing, ISBN 1-85532-257-9 (p. 46)
  19. ^ McNab, Chris (2011), Hitler's Armies: A History of the German War Machine 1939-45, Osprey Publishing, ISBN 978-1849086479 (p. 399)
  20. ^ Selby, Scott Andrew (2013). The Axmann Conspiracy: A Nazi Plan for a Fourth Reich and How the U.S. Army Defeated It. Berkley. ISBN 978-0425253687. Archived from the original on 2020-10-09. Retrieved 2020-09-23. (Chapter 1)

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