The Hitler Youth (1938)
In 1938 the National Book Prize was awarded to a collection of poems written anonymously by members of the Austrian sections of the Hitler Youth and published as The Song of the Faithful. Here we have a bit of propaganda press which brought together several key aspects of the German civic religion: the F�hrer, militarism, German culture, and youth. The Hitler Youth played a major role in ensuring a steady flow of ideologically correct recruits to positions within the Third Reich.
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The figure of Adolf Hitler, himself a wonderful embodiment of the union of politician with artist, impresses itself on German youth as a binding model for how to give shape to the totality of their lives. And thus a symbolic power of the volume of poetry awarded the National Book Prize lies in the fact that it was written for the German people by the youth which bears the F�hrer's name and who live in the newest German province.
Whatever strengthened faith and hope during the political struggle, and whatever attracted the gaze of active longing from the Ostmark towards the Reich of Adolf Hitler, found immortal expression in these poems. Can there be more valid proof of the unity of the people, of the emergence of the new German man than the fact that the political commitment of the youth does not make them estranged from or indifferent to artistic experience, but rather causes them to express in poetic language everything which fulfils them and spurs them on to make that commitment?
The education for Germany, which is organized by the Hitler Youth itself in accordance with the F�hrer's will that "Youth must be led by youth," necessarily embraces the whole of a youth's existence. Certainly it is an education in developing a martial bearing. But here as everywhere else the example of the F�hrer makes any objections that might be raised invalid: a martial bearing, worlds removed from the military drill of a bygone age, does not exclude the love of art, but is what gives it its deeper meaning.
And just as the Hitler Youth is neither a league for pre-military training, nor a sports club, so it has no room, either, for the cultivation of a separate youth culture in musical groups and Hitler Youth Choirs, in literary clubs and theatrical societies. Whatever is happening within the new German youth happens exclusively in compliance with the great and unalterable law: the commitment to the F�hrer is the commitment to Germany.
This commitment is fulfilled in the forming of the young German in his totality, just as much in a physical and intellectual direction as in the cultivation of a spiritual sensibility and his education in the correct appreciation and evaluation of artistic achievement. The German people has become great in the eyes of the whole world through its impressive cultural achievements. Germans of the future, as they grow up as Pfimpf and Hitler Youth or as Jungm�del and members of the Bund Deutscher M�del, must be educated to recognize German cultural values and the duty to uphold them, and to feel awe for the creative powers of the German people's soul which will ensure that its culture will be preserved.
Thus the goals of the cultural work carried out by the Hitler Youth remain conditioned by political needs: the political education of the German in the National Socialist sense is to be conceived as a unity of thinking, feeling, willing, and action, one which will determine the face of the Third Reich, the lines which compose the picture of the future Germany.
[Source: Willi F. K�nitzer, The Hitler Youth as the carrier of new values, 1938.]
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copyright � 2000 Steven Kreis