Even though the 82-year-old German pontiff has admitted in numerous interviews that he was drafted unwillingly into the Nazi youth movement towards the end of the war, his spokesman came up with another version.
"My program for educating youth is hard. Weakness must be hammered away...... I want a brutal, domineering, fearless, cruel youth. Youth must be all that. It must bear pain. There must be nothing weak and gentle about it....That is how I will create the New Order." – Adolf Hitler, 1933.
The Hitler Youth concerned itself not only with political-ideological but also physical education. Physical training took on increasingly paramilitary forms and emphasized ideals such as strength of will, obedience, and the unconditional fulfillment of duty.
By 1945 of the almost 9 million youth devoted to Hitler there were only 455 left and one tank which were forced to surrender.
The two major principles the NAZIs constantly preached at the Hitler Youth boys was the superority of the German nation and Aryan race and the need of the Germand people for Lebensraum ("living space") in the east. There were other principles such as the recovery of territory lost in Wold War I and of Germany's overseas colonies.
The Hitler Youth grew from a group with a handful of boys to one of the most important uniformed youth group in Europe. No group so thoroughly suceeded in their stated purpose. Had the NAZIs suceeded, the elite of Europe would have been raised and trained through the Hitler Youth. Membership increased from about 1,000 boys in 1923 to nearly 8 million in 1939 when Hitler launched World War II.
Hitler was a firm believer in the need to indoctrinate Nazi ideology early and the power of young people in ensuring the continued vitality of the “Thousand Year Reich.” The Hitler Youth was based on Hitler’s anti-intellectualism, focusing on military training in preparation for becoming a soldier at 18.
The Hitler Youth was a logical extension of Hitler's belief that the future of Nazi Germany was its children. The Hitler Youth was seen as being as important to a child as school was. In the early years of the Nazi government, Hitler had made it clear as to what he expected German children to be like:
The Hitler Youth, known in German as Hitler-Jugend (HJ), was founded in 1926, though its roots stretch back a few years. Its origins come from the Jungsturm Adolf Hitler (Adolf Hitler Boy’s Storm Troop), an arm of the storm troopers founded in 1922. It was originally the youth movement of the German Workers’ Party, founded in 1919, which, in 1920, Hitler renamed the National Socialist German Workers’ Party.
Movements for youngsters were part of German culture and the Hitler Youth had been 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. In 1936, it became all but compulsory to join the Hitler Youth. Youths could avoid doing any active service if they paid their subscription but this became all but impossible after 1939.