Hitler Youth - in World War II

In World War II

In 1940, Artur Axmann replaced Schirach as Reichsjugendführer and took over leadership of the Hitler Youth. Axmann began to reform the group into an auxiliary force which could perform war duties. The Hitler Youth became active in German fire brigades and assisted with recovery efforts to German cities affected from Allied bombing. The Hitler Youth also assisted in such organizations as the Reich Postal Service, Deutsche Reichsbahn, fire services, and Reich radio service, and served among anti-aircraft defense crews.

By 1943, Nazi leaders began turning the Hitler Youth into a military reserve to draw manpower which had been depleted due to tremendous military losses. In 1943, the 12th SS-Panzer-Division Hitlerjugend, under the command of SS-Brigadeführer Fritz Witt, was formed. The Division was a fully equipped Waffen-SS panzer division, with the majority of the enlisted cadre being drawn from Hitler Youth boys between the ages of 16 and 18. The division was deployed during the Battle of Normandy against the British and Canadian forces to the north of Caen. During the following months, the division earned itself a reputation for ferocity and fanaticism. When Witt was killed by allied naval gunfire, SS-Brigadeführer Kurt Meyer took over command and became the youngest divisional commander at age 33.

As German casualties escalated with the combination of Operation Bagration and the Lvov-Sandomierz Operation in the east, and Operation Cobra in the west, members of the Hitlerjugend were recruited at ever younger ages. By 1945, the Volkssturm was commonly drafting 12-year-old Hitler Youth members into its ranks. During the Battle of Berlin, Axmann's Hitler Youth formed a major part of the last line of German defense, and were reportedly among the fiercest fighters. Although the city commander, General Helmuth Weidling, ordered Axmann to disband the Hitler Youth combat formations; in the confusion, this order was never carried out. The remnants of the youth brigade were "mowed down" by the advancing Russian forces; only two survivors remained.

Read more about this topic:  Hitler Youth

Famous quotes containing the words world and/or war:

    Raising a daughter is an extremely political act in this culture. Mothers have been placed in a no-win situation with their daughters: if they teach their daughters simply how to get along in a world that has been shaped by men and male desires, then they betray their daughters’ potential But, if they do not, they leave their daughters adrift in a hostile world without survival strategies.
    Elizabeth Debold (20th century)

    We hoped for a happy termination of this terrible war long before this; but God knows best, and has ruled otherwise.
    Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865)