Inside the Hitler Youth camps where youngsters were brainwashed to become Nazis, having their heads shaved and standing guard… as rare albums from one cadet go up for auction
- Chilling photographs of Nazi group were taken by 15-year-old Friedhelm Huhn during ‘Landjahr’ in 1938
- They show teenagers marching, having their heads shaved and gathering in front of swastika flags
- Two photo albums are set to fetch £750 when they go up for auction in California later this month
PUBLISHED: 12:58 GMT, 13 February 2014 | UPDATED: 13:47 GMT, 13 February 2014
The chilling photographs show how teenagers in Nazi Germany were brainwashed into supporting the fascist cause at Hitler Youth indoctrination camps.
The rare images capture the boys marching, standing guard and having their heads shaved in accordance with military rules.
They were compiled by a 15-year-old while he carried out his training over the course of eight months in the year before the outbreak of the Second World War.
Gathering: A picture of a Hitler Youth ‘Landjahr’ training camp taken in 1938 by a 15-year-old boy who was taking part
Owner: The photographs were taken by Friedhelm Huhn, whose identity document is shown, when he was attending the camp in 1938
The photo albums, which were looted by an Allied soldier at the end of the war, are now going up for auction in California.
They originated from the ‘Landjahr’, the rural training camp for boys aged between 15 and 18 who had joined the Hitler Youth.
During the war, members were drafted into the German fire service before becoming part of the military reserve and then acted as the last line of the defence of Berlin.
Some of the photos show the ‘soldiers of tomorrow’ in uniform, complete with a Swastika armband and long shorts.
They are depicted marching in regimented order with a drill sergeant-type figure walking alongside them.
Activities: These photographs show teenagers examining diagrams promoting physical fitness, and having their heads shaved
Discipline: The boys – many of whom would later fight in the Second World War – used to practice marching in military fashion
Memento: Friedhelm apparently kept the photos and his uniform patches, but they were looted by an Allied soldier
Another photo is a group shot of dozens of members stood in a canteen with a giant Swastika flag above their heads.
There is a picture of two boys aged about 14 getting their hair shaved short in military fashion, while others show boys studying diagrams about how to improve their physical fitness.
The two albums were compiled by Friedhelm Huhn, who carried out his training as a teenager between April and December 1938.
It is not known what happened to him during the war, but it is believed the albums were taken as a souvenir by an Allied serviceman at the end of the conflict.
The albums – along with Friedhelm Huhn’s ID cards and Landjahr uniform patches – are now being sold by auctioneer Nate D. Sanders, which is based in Los Angeles.
Playful: But while the pictures may seem charming, the Swastika armbands worn by the teenagers hint at the dark truth
Gathering: One image shows all the participants in the Landjahr standing under a huge swastika flag
Terry Charman, a historian at the Imperial War Museum, said: ‘Although it was never compulsory to join the Hitler Youth, in practice it more or less was.
‘Parents really had to send their sons along for training. The Nazis represented it as a German version of the Boy Scouts – which it certainly was not.
‘The boys were soldiers of tomorrow and the training had a strong military element to it and involved firearms.
‘A lot of the Hitler Youth were drafted in the the anti-aircraft batteries but those who had a reputation for being fairly awesome fighters joined the Waffen SS.
Outing: Other images appear to show the Hitler Youth outside the setting of the camp on a visit to a city
Collection: These photo albums are going up for auction in California and are set to fetch £750
‘In the last days of the war the Hitler Youth was mobilised in the German version of the Home Guard and fought on both eastern and western fronts. A lot of them were sacrificed in Berlin, some as young as 12 or 13.
‘The last Nazi newsreel film out of Germany in the war showed Hitler handing out gallantry medals such as the Iron Cross to members of the Hitler Youth for distinguishing themselves in battle.’
The albums, which measure 10in by 7.5in, have a pre-sale estimate of £750 and are being sold on February 27.
HOW THE NAZIS BRAINWASHED VULNERABLE TEENAGERS IN A BID TO SPREAD THEIR FOUL RACIST IDEOLOGY
Sinister: A Hitler Youth rally in Berlin in May 1933, soon after Hitler came to power
The Hitler Youth (‘Hitlerjugend’ in German) were central to the Nazis’ plan to create a nation of Aryan ‘supermen’ by indocrinating children into their twisted racist worldview from the age of 10.
The organisation was founded as early as 1922, but it was not until Hitler came to power in 1933 that the group took a prominent position in German society, as it became more or less obligatory for all teenagers to join.
Members would be educated in Nazi ideology, and had the genius of Hitler relentlessly drilled into them.
Activities such as the Landjahr, where teenagers would spend months working on a farm and practicing military discipline, helped members bond and shored up their belief in the Nazi cause.
After the start of the Second World War, the Hitler Youth was transformed into an auxiliary military force, initially attached to unites such as the fire brigade and postal service.
Later in the war, with Germany suffering increasingly devastating losses, teenagers began fighting on the front line as part of their own SS division.
Hundreds of boys as young as 12 helped form the last line of defence when Berlin was besieged by the Allied forces, and most were killed by the Soviet troops who entered the city.
Perhaps the best-known member of the Hitler Youth is Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, who was forced to join the movement but refused to attend meetings due to his family’s anti-Nazi views.