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Herbert Norkus (26 July 1916 – 24 January 1932, in Berlin) was a Hitler Youth member who was murdered by German Communists. He became a role model and martyr for the Hitler Youth and was widely used in Nazi propaganda, most prominently as the subject of novel and film Hitler Youth Quex.
Born to a working class family in the Tiergarten district of Berlin, Norkus joined the equivalent of the sea scouts of the Hitler Youth organisation. He was also reported to have enjoyed playing the piano and drawing. His father had been wounded in World War I, and supposedly had Communist sympathies. The official Nazi biographies of Norkus claimed his father initially opposed his son's Nazi activities but was ultimately converted and became a Nazi too.
Clashes between the Hitler Youth and the Communist Red Front youth movement (Rote Jungfront) were becoming increasingly common as the NSDAP and the German Communist Party struggled for power in the waning days of the Weimar Republic.
On 24 January 1932, 15-year-old Herbert Norkus and other Hitler Youth members were distributing leaflets advertising an upcoming Nazi rally. The group was confronted by Communists. Norkus fought them off and ran to a nearby house for help. A man answered and slammed the door in his face, presumably because he saw the other boys. Norkus was then stabbed six times by the pursuing Communists. He banged on another door, which was answered by a woman who tried to get him to a hospital. However, he died on arrival.
Writer Karl Aloys Schenzinger made Norkus into a role model for the Hitler Youth in a popular Nazi novel, Der Hitlerjunge Quex (1932). In 1933, it was made into a film directed by Hans Steinhoff, with Heinrich George in a leading role as the boy's father. The novel was required reading for all members of the Hitler Youth.
A German Navy school ship called the Herbert Norkus was named in his honor, but it was never completed because of the war. Many schools, streets and squares were also named after him during the Nazi period.
- Others given posthumous fame by the Nazis
- General reference
- Arnold Littmann: Herbert Norkus und die Hitlerjungen vom Beußelkietz. Berlin: Steuben. 1934.
- Hermann Gerstmayer (Hrsg.): Herbert Norkus, der Hitlerjunge. Berlin: Neues Verlagshaus für Volksliteratur. 1934.
- Rudolf Ramlow: Herbert Norkus? - hier! Opfer und Sieg der Hitler-Jugend. Stuttgart u. a.: Union Deutsche Verlagsgesellschaft. 1933.
- Wolfgang Schwarz: Kameradschaft Herbert Norkus. Breslau: Handel. 1934.
- Artur Axmann: "Das kann doch nicht das Ende sein." Hitlers letzter Reichsjugendführer erinnert sich. Koblenz: Bublies. 1995. (Norkus gehörte zu Axmanns Gefolgschaft in Berlin) ISBN 3-926584-33-5.