HITLER YOUTH: Origins and Development 1922-1945 by H.W. Koch

HITLER YOUTH: Origins and Development 1922-1945

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A study of the Nazi youth groups by a York University historian who himself belonged to the Hitler Youth. Koch remains frankly appreciative of the comradeship, patriotism and rejection of industrial society he found in the Hitlerjugend; but this was ""appallingly misused."" He defends the Freikorps predecessors of the Nazis as having saved the borders of the Weimar Republic, and then shows how the Hitler Youth itself took shape in the 1920's. As one leader said, ""neither a political paramilitary association, nor an association of anti-Semitic Boy Scouts,"" but a seedbed of Reich soldiers and administrators. Koch extensively covers the 19th-century anti-Enlightenment precursors and the literary components of the later Nazi organizations, but omits the influence both of Mussolini's exaltation of youth and of the Stefan George circle which shaped Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach and the young nationalists of Weimar. Another major gap is the mere passing allusion to labor service by Hitler Youth. And the question of homosexuality suggested, if nothing else, by the photographs, is demurely passed over. Interestingly, Koch states that, while these groups received plenty of instruction in party mythology and racial lore, relatively little ""direct political and ideological indoctrination"" took place. Tending to focus on his native Bavaria, the book stresses the continuity of Nazism with prior nationalism and anti-Semitism, though the youth movement's unique disruption of family ties is also covered. The horror of teen-aged shock troops used in desperate last-ditch WW II battles will remind readers that Germans were themselves victims, not just perpetrators. The book is bound to be termed apologetic by many critics, but its biases are at least straight-forward--as when Koch cites Churchill's praise of the courage and patriotism of Hitler and his followers! By no means a fully adequate reference, but perhaps a useful one.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1976
ISBN: 0815410840
Publisher: Stein & Day