Pope Benedict recalls days of Hitler Youth

hitler youth, pope benedict

The Hitler Youth: Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Fuehrer

For the Hitler Youth serving the Fuehrer was second nature

The Hitler Youth, or Hitler Jugend (HJ) was a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party. It existed from 1922 to 1945. The HJ was the second oldest paramilitary Nazi group, founded one year after its adult counterpart, the Sturmabteilung (the SA). It was made up of the Hitlerjugend proper, for male youth ages 14–18; the younger boys’ section Deutsches Jungvolk for ages 10–14; and the girls’ section Bund Deutscher Mädel. In the last months of the war members of the HJ were fighting on the front lines, some as young as twelve. There aren’t too many former members of the HJ alive these days, but one who lives is rather prominent.

The German-born Pope Benedict XVI rarely talks about when he was conscripted into the Hitler Youth as a teen. But yesterday, in an audience with a German Catholic group, Benedict made a rare mention of life under the Nazis, calling it a “dark time,” reports the AP. “It looked like the continent was in the hands of this power, which put the future of Christianity in doubt,” said the pope. The 84-year-old Benedict was forced to join the Hitler Youth in 1941, a time “already marked by war,” said the pope, when the Nazis “had already subjugated” much of Europe.

The HJ were viewed as future “Aryan supermen” and were indoctrinated in anti-Semitism. One aim was to instill the motivation that would enable HJ members, as soldiers, to fight faithfully for the Third Reich. The HJ put more emphasis on physical and military training than on academic study. The Nationalsozialistischer Reichsbund für Leibesübungen (NSRBL), the umbrella organization promoting and coordinating sport activities in Germany during the Nazi period, had the responsibility of overseeing the physical fitness development programs provided to the German youth.

After the boy scout movement was banned through German-controlled countries, the HJ appropriated many of its activities, though changed in content and intention. For example, many HJ activities closely resembled military training, with weapons training, assault course circuits and basic tactics. Some cruelty by the older boys toward the younger ones was tolerated and even encouraged, since it was believed this would weed out the unfit and harden the rest.

Do you think an organization like the Hitler Youth could flourish today?  Could a dictator such as Hitler himself flourish today?

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Posted by on May 29, 2011. Filed under Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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6 Responses to Pope Benedict recalls days of Hitler Youth

  1. Leslie Parsley

    May 29, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Anything is possible but despite my belief that we are moving toward fascism, I don’t foresee a Hitler-type dictator flourishing or the success of such a youth movement – at least not yet. Fortunately, we still have a pretty educated majority. How long this will continue is up for grabs.

    A very good video of William Shirer talking about the Hitler Youth Movement. Shirer lived in and covered Germany up until the invasion of Poland when CBS ordered him to leave. He was the author of “Berlin Diary” and “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” among others. As an interesting side note, Edward R. Murrow was responsible for ending Shirer’s career at CBS – totally stabbed the man in the back.

  2. A Michael J. Scott

    May 29, 2011 at 10:37 am

    I have read everything that Shirer wrote, but didn’t know the Edward R. Murrow dynamic. Now I’m going to have to do my research. Thanks Leslie, for the information as well as the video.

  3. Mike Golch

    May 29, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    One can only hope that this type of monster can never exist today as he did in the late 30’s eand part of the 40’s,and is he did would America rise to the task again to stop him?

  4. Ligtstar

    May 29, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Yes, it absolutely can happen again. We are not teaching history in this country. If people do not know history, and learn from it, they are bound to repeat it!

  5. Anonymous

    April 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    i like monkeys

  6. Gort

    October 2, 2012 at 11:34 am

    there is another megalomaniac rising that is following the fascist blueprint to the t. the monsters name is Campbell Newman the new premier of Queensland in Australia and if the brute Tony Abbott gets enough votes to become Prime minister of Australia then what rape is being done to Queensland will be done to all Australia. basic human rights and civil rights have already been plunged back to pre 1970 levels, if the LNP get total control of Australia someone please nuke us back to the stone age before the hate and poison spread to any other country