Extract From Political Report of the Ambassador in Germany (Dodd)60
1. Nationalization of the German Youth. Important changes in the Reich youth organizations were forecast in a New Year proclamation issued by Youth Leader Baldur von Schirach. While it is evident from the vague terms of the declaration that many points of detail have not yet been decided, the general implications of the scheme are wide enough to deserve special attention.
According to von Schirach’s announcement, membership in the Deutsches Jungvolk, which has hitherto been voluntary, will be made compulsory for all German children between the ages of 10 and 14. He declares that the change should not be difficult to bring about, claiming that already 80 per cent of the children were included in this body, an estimate considered in certain circles, however, to be disproportionately high. Only the very best would be chosen for the Hitler Youth and the Band of German Girls, where the children remain from the ages of 15 to 18; these organizations would be the elite corps rather than the large State youth bodies that they are today. The other children coming from the Jungvolk would be brought together into a new State organization yet to be set up. It is evidently intended that the Hitler Youth and the Band of German Girls should [Page 179] be “feeders” for the Party and that they should furnish certain numbers of young people who upon the successful completion of their youth service at the age of 18, will be admitted to membership each year on the occasion of the celebration of the anniversary of the Munich Putsch on November 9, in much the same manner as those admitted last November.
In its broad outlines the scheme amounts to nothing less than a conscription of the entire German youth between the ages of 10 to 14. Its ramifications are so far-reaching, however, that it is understood that a number of points remain to be settled. One question still outstanding relates to the status of the Catholic youth organizations which, although considerably circumscribed in their activities by the repressive measures of last summer, still exist and as a matter of fact have their existence guaranteed by the Concordat.61 Another point is the form that will be given to the State youth body which will comprise the majority not selected for the Hitler Youth or the Band of German Girls. In this connection it is understood that there has been a movement in conservative circles of the Government to take the main group of the German Youth out of the hands of Herr von Schirach’s youthful lieutenants and entrust them to adult leaders, but Herr von Schirach seems to have been successful in frustrating this design, which originated principally in the Ministry of Education, inasmuch as in a recent speech in Koenigsberg he made it clear that he intended that all the State youth bodies should be captained by his followers.
A matter causing grave concern to many parents arises from the privileges that the members of the Hitler Youth and the Band of German Girls now enjoy. At present many government positions (see Embassy’s despatch No. 2444 of November 5, 193562) as well as situations in Nazi firms are open only to former members of the Hitler Youth. Parents foresee that if these privileges are continued, such of their children as fail to be selected for the elite groups may find it impossible to aspire to the best careers. In this case a tremendous pressure will force the children themselves to compete with each other in National Socialist effort in order to gain coveted membership among the elite.
To mark the important decisions to be put into effect, 1936 is to be known as the “Year of the German Youth.” In addition to the intervention of the State to gain complete control over the youth, other projected measures are mentioned in the press, including new laws on professional training, on child labor and general youth welfare.