Amazing Hitler Youth aged cotton flag, approx. 36″ x 58″, looks and feels original. These are rare even as reproductions.
The Hitler Youth (German: Hitlerjugend, often abbreviated as HJ) was the youth organisation of the Nazi Party in Germany. Its origins dated back to 1922 and it received the name Hitler-Jugend, Bund deutscher Arbeiterjugend (“Hitler Youth, League of German Worker Youth”) in July 1926. From 1933 until 1945, it was the sole official boy’s youth organisation in Germany and was partially a paramilitary organisation; it was composed of the Hitler Youth proper for male youths aged 14 to 18, and the German Youngsters in the Hitler Youth (Deutsches Jungvolk in der Hitler Jugend or “DJ”, also “DJV”) for younger boys aged 10 to 14.
In 1923, the youth organisation of the Nazi Party had a little over 1,200 members. In 1925, the membership grew to over 5,000. Five years later, national membership stood at 26,000. By the end of 1932, it was at 107,956 The Nazis came to power in 1933, and the membership of Hitler Youth organisations increased dramatically to 2,300,000 members by the end of that year. Much of these increases came from forcible takeovers of other youth organisations. The sizable Evangelische Jugend (Evangelical Youth), a Lutheran youth organisation of 600,000 members, was integrated on 18 February 1934. In 1934, a law declared the Hitler Youth to be the only legally permitted youth organisation in Germany, and stated that “all of the German youth in the Reich is organised within the Hitler Youth”.
By December 1936, Hitler Youth membership had reached over five million. That same month, membership became mandatory for “Aryans”, under the Gesetz über die Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth Law). This legal obligation was reaffirmed in March 1939 with the Jugenddienstpflicht (Youth Service Duty), which conscripted all German youths into the Hitler Youth even if the parents objected. Parents who refused to allow their children to join were subject to an investigation by the authorities. From then on, the vast majority of Germany’s teenagers belonged to the Hitler Youth. By 1940, it had eight million members.
Even before membership was made mandatory in 1939, German youth faced strong pressure to join. Students who held out were frequently assigned essays with titles such as “Why am I not in the Hitler Youth?” They were also the subject of frequent taunts from teachers and fellow students, and could even be refused their diploma which made it impossible to be admitted to university. A number of employers refused to offer apprenticeships to anyone who was not a member of the Hitler Youth. By 1936, the Hitler Youth had a monopoly on all youth sports facilities in Germany, effectively locking out non-members. As time went on, a number of boys chafed under the regimented nature of the organisation; some even dropped out and only rejoined when they learned they could not get a job or enter university without being a member. Effectively, the Hitler Youth constituted the single most successful of all the mass movements in the Third Reich.