by Bruce Kipp
The “Hitler Youth” (Hitler Jugend) was the overall term for the Nazi Party’s youth group. It was comprised of two mass organizations: One for boys and one for girls. Each organization had a senior and a junior branch. The senior branch for boys, ages 14-18, was the Hitler Jugend (HJ). The junior branch for boys, ages 10-14, was the Deutsches Jungvolk (DJ). At the end of 1933, the year the National Socialist regime came to power overall combined membership of the Hitler Youth was nearly 2.5 million. The number rose to more than five million by December 1936.
In late 1936, Hitler Youth membership which had been voluntary was made compulsory for all German youth. Membership was enforced, even against the will of parents.
The goal of the HJ/DJ was to toughen the mind and body of German males for what was to come. This was accomplished by heavy doses of Nazi propaganda emphasizing loyalty to Hitler, faithfulness to the Fatherland, and selfless service to the community. A wide variety of activities promoted physical fitness and fostered a spirit of militarism. The HJ/DJ was viewed as pre-military training prior to induction into the armed forces of a revitalized, militaristic nation.
THE IDENTIFICATION CARD
The Deutsches Jungvolk Provisional Identification Card illustrated in this article was made of pale green, medium card stock. It consisted of an obverse (front) and a reverse (back) and measures about 8cm x 12cm.
As an example of what can be learned from a identification card, we can examine the one issued to 10-year-old Kurt Gabbel. Kurt lived in Hillerheide, a southern suburb of metropolitan Recklinghausen in the industrial Ruhr region.
Candidates for entry into the Deutsches Jungvolk had to pass a series of tests (Pimpfenprobe) of their physical fitness and knowledge. On 5 June 1937, Gabbel passed fitness tests for the 60-meter run, long jump and medicine ball toss. On 11 July, he passed the test on how to correctly pack a backpack and completed a one-and-a-half day march. On 11 September, he faultlessly recited the DJ membership oath and sang the Horst Wessel and the Hitler Youth Flag songs.
After he passed his candidacy, he became a member of DJ Fähnlein 23 (Hillerheide) in Jungbann 252 (Recklinghausen). A Fähnlein was the DJ equivalent of a military company, approximately 150 boys. A DJ Jungbann was the equivalent of a military regiment, approximately 6,000 boys.
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