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Objects and Stories – Hitler Youth Armband

Hitler Youth Armband

The Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend) was established in Nazi Germany that physically trained youth and indoctrinated them with the party ideology to the point of fanaticism. Movements for youngsters were part of German culture with the Hitler Youth being created in the 1920's. By 1933 its membership stood at 100,000. After Hitler came to power, all other youth movements were abolished and as a result the Hitler Youth grew quickly. In 1936, the figure stood at 4 million members when became all but compulsory to join or face trial with the possibility of execution.
The organisation catered for 10 to 18 year olds with the genders being separated. The task of the boys section was to prepare for service through military athletics (Wehrsport) included marching, bayonet drill, grenade throwing, trench digging, map reading, gas defence, use of dugouts, how to get under barbed wire and pistol shooting. For girls, the Bund Deutscher Madel (League of German Girls) prepared them for motherhood.
Towards the end of the War, the 12th SS Tank Division of the Hitlerjugend was established with the majority of its recruits being 16 and 17-year-old boys. The teenagers saw extensive action in the Battle for Berlin and Normandy, suffering 60% casualties and being amongst the most fanatical and brutal defenders.

Child Soldiers

Thousands of children are currently serving as soldiers in armed conflicts around the world. These boys and girls, some as young as 8 years old, serve in government forces and armed opposition groups. They may fight on the front lines, participate in suicide missions, and act as spies, messengers, or lookouts. Girls may be forced into sexual slavery.
Many are abducted, recruited by force or by following a single ideology, ignorant and deeply suspicious of what might lie beyond the confines and its teachings, without the tempering influences of family and community. Others join out of desperation, believing that armed groups offer their best chance for survival.

Picture by Roel Coutinho - Roel Coutinho Guinea-Bissau and Senegal Photographs (1973 - 1974), CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48584657

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