Why did the Nazis develop youth movements?

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Members of the League of German Girls pasting recruiting posters.

For girls the emphasis was on their role as homebuilders, mothers and nurturers of the Nazi ‘Aryan race’. They attended both home-building classes and exercises to develop their physical fitness.

In 1922, whilst still in its infancy, the Nazi Party established the Hitler Youth. By 1933, 30 per cent of young Germans were members. Once the Nazis came to power, great pressure was brought to bear on families to encourage young people to be members. By 1939 over 80 per cent of Germany’s youth had joined.

Boys in the German Young Folk (10-14 yrs) and Hitler Youth (14-18 yrs) participated in physical activities to develop both fitness and fearlessness. In order to become members, boys had to be able to run 60 metres in twelve seconds and carryout a number of other physical tests.

The League of German Girls

Following Nazi ideas, girls would join the League of Young Girls (10-14 yrs) or League of German Girls (14-18 yrs).

Girls’ membership of the League of German Girls included a year of farm work or domestic service. Likewise, boys in the Hitler Youth would take part in the National Labour Service. Both boys and girls were indoctrinated in Nazi ideology and swore an oath of love and loyalty to Hitler.