The paper “ Hitler Youth by Michael Kater" is a thrilling example of a book review on biographies. Michael Kater, a well-known researcher, and professor of history haling from Toronto, Canada, has brilliantly compressed several decades of Hitler’ s historical youth exploitations into 349 pages worth of enriching facts. His enthralling book - Hitler Youth – is based on original interviews, anecdotes of those born between the years of 1916 – 1934, letters, and journals that give us a vivid and coherent detail of the circumstances that led to the commencement of the “ Hitler Jugend” during the 1930s.
(Brian, 2005). Hitler Youth is an astounding historical account of how young boys and girls, ages 10 -18, were indoctrinated in accordance with Nazi belief during the Third German Reich. It explores the gullibility of young minds and the corruptness of adults. By instilling fear, racism, idolatry, and a distorted sense of youth pride, Hitler was able to fashion the young generation into cruel fanatics without remorse for moral and humane responsibilities. Hitler envisioned a conquering, vigorous and an immune to pain generation of youngsters, perceiving them as impeding instruments of power.
(Wikipedia, 2007). One interesting aspect to note is the maltreatment or participation of the BDM, the League of German Girls, in the Hitler Jugend who were used as accessories to promote sexual promiscuity and bigamy. Kater provides a factual and descriptive account of how these girls were turned into “ breeding” instruments or sexual exploits and cite the pregnancy of 900 BDM members shortly after the annual Nazi party rally of 1936 in Nuremberg. Many of these females did not even know the fathers of the children. One main argument that Kater poses for his readers is the view that the Hitler Youth or Hitler Jugend was either culpable or innocent of criminal injustices and goes as far as providing determining factors to measure guilt versus the responsibility of age.
These include positions held within the organization, participation in criminal activities and inclusive years within the organization. He further notes that some Hitler Youth members did not, in fact, support Nazi ideologies either because of the mandatory imposition of joining the movement or that they were part of the anti-Nazi resistance movement. Still, some thought it morally wrong to join the organization and were able to resist incorporation.
(Prikryl, 2004) I have to agree with the writer in his view of providing measurable standards of guilt versus the responsibility of age. The balance of reward and punishment is a universal standard. At some point in a person’ s life, he/she must be accountable for his/her actions, whether good or bad. Although I commiserate with these children who were blindly indoctrinated into a system of brutality, I must confess my inner turmoil of why a small percentage of their youth were able to resist involvement in criminal injustices or more so, the existence of some dissidents who rallied behind an anti-Nazi campaign. The book is both mentally and emotionally invigorating. On one hand, it provides a significant aspect of how well the Hitler Youth movement was organized to mobilize and produce disciplined, loyal, brave and devoted servants which escalated in numbers even before membership became mandatory in 1939.
The think tanks of the Nazi regime were impressively spontaneous in controlling the youth via the educational system, giving emphasis on military and physical training over academic study. By reorganizing the curriculum, with the inclusion of “ Race Science” as part of biology and a relentless task of indoctrinations supplemented along military and political lines, they were able to integrate a new breed of youngsters to their liking. On the other hand, it shows a society enslaved by authority and a misplaced sense of human compassion. How children of the Hitler Jugend were made to suffer between the years of the pre and post-war era, whether by choice or obligation, is a product of misguided adult supervision.
Also of interests is the method of “ denazification” of the Hitler Youth members adopted by the Allies after the war. Struggling from a demoralizing setback of losing the war and faced with the reality of historical change and adaptability, the Hitler Youth members were rounded up and forced to surrender. Though amnesty was granted to the young members of the Hitler Youth organization for their political crimes, they were also required to attend seminars incorporating the principles of democracy and listen to American broadcast in order to sample American culture.
(Prikryl, 2004) The book is highly recommended as a good case study for students of history as well as the general public who are interested in how the Hitler Youth or Hitler Jugend started. It is well written and documented and provides the reader with an intellectual room for discussion without prejudice or bias.