Background: I here translate part of a 1938 book on the Hitler Youth in Kiel. It covers the period up to about the summer of 1933, with a focus on the period before 1933. It has an opening chapter by Georg Hempel, which I’ve translated in full, followed by dozens of briefer stories about the Hitler Youth in the area.
The source: Georg Hempel, Die Kieler Hitlerjugend: Chronik, Geschichten und Aufsätze ihrer Kampfzeit (Kiel: Buchdruckerei Max Tandler, 1938).
The Hitler Youth in Kiel: History and Stories from its Period of Struggle
History of the HJ in Kiel
At the beginning of 1928, we SA men made a propaganda trip with trucks along with our Kiel SA leader Danielsen. Two lads ran alongside the whole way, one a curly blond, another with black hair. They were two worker’s kids who often sold newspapers for Danielsen. As an SA man, I decided that day to found the Hitler Youth in Kiel. I had already led a Hitler Youth group in central Germany, and knew the whole history of the HJ. And I’d also been part of a National Socialist hiking group in Kiel in 1927, along with student Willi Ziegenbein, his brother Otto, and a pupil, Jürgen Scheunemann.
The Kiel Hitler Youth was founded at Pentecost in 1928 in a tiny student room at Blocksberg, in fact on the attic balcony of a small garden house. The first two members were the lads who had run alongside the trucks, Hinrichs and Zickler, along with a few working youths and a pupil. We worked quietly in 1928, recruiting new members, holding evening meetings, while still doing as much as possible for the party and the SA. We began hanging our first posters. From the beginning, we held to the principle that hikes had to be a central part of HJ activity. The HJ in Kiel never deviated from this principle during the years of struggle, even if it led to occasional difficulties — in 1930, hikes were so central that political activity was neglected. Our hikes then often went to the Westensee. Although we had often gone to Hochberg as National Socialist hikers, we were not able to go as Hitler Youths.
Wolfgang Mannhardt took over the HJ group, which had about 30 lads, in 1930 when I left Kiel for three semesters. The basic work continued. Soon there were groups for the older and younger boys, the forerunners to our fighting youth and the young boys. Alongside the HJ there was a National Socialist Youth Federation, which only did hikes. This caused some confusion for a while, since people in Kiel did not know which one was the real NSDAP youth organization.
In fall 1930 the HJ was without a leader, since its previous leader had moved away from Kiel. Since I had assumed leadership of the National Socialist Student Federation in Kiel, which by the way was banned at the time, the leadership of the HJ was soon given back to me as well. General confusion prevailed in the Kiel youth organization, with two HJ groups, three groups for young girls, and groups for male and female pupils. To turn these little groups into a strong organization, I established the National Socialist Youth Ring on 21.12.1930, which included all of these youth organizations as well as the organizations for male and female university students. The party in Kiel at the time was led by people who did as little visible propaganda as possible, and did not want to arouse Marxist opponents. Since we knew that the party leadership in Munich thought an entirely different policy was necessary, the National Socialist Youth Ring held big meetings and attempted to force Marxists to attend our meetings with provocative leaflets. Our Gauleiter H. Lohse already showed that he had a particular interest in youth work in Kiel, and granted our NS Youth Ring a monthly subsidy of 10 RM, which at the time was enough to do a lot with.
We got started. One meeting followed another. Tens of thousands of leaflets were distributed, and the good citizens of Kiel were shaken out of their comfortable sleep. And the Marxists suddenly noticed that a new force was rising, one that would be dangerous for them.
On 1.3.1931, the Gauleiter replaced the leadership of the party local group, and party comrade Sunkel came to Kiel as the new local group leader. That was a victory for the fighting wing of the NSDAP in Kiel, and the party flourished under local group leader, later county leader, Sunkel.
The first large youth meetings in Kiel laid the groundwork for a larger HJ membership. After the big meetings in December 1930, which thousands of Kiel youth attended, we knew that our HJ group could become one of the most powerful of Hitler’s forces in the whole Reich. It took a while before that happened. I was in charge not only of Kiel, but of the whole surrounding territory. In spring 1931, I began to establish the HJ in Heikendorf. Party comrade Otto Ziegenbein took over the HJ in Kiel. We hoped that under his leadership there would be continuous effort. Unfortunately, Otto Ziegenbein soon had to give up his office as HJ leader, since the work in the party local group demanded more of his time and he was needed more there. Once again, the progress of the HJ in Kiel was in danger.
I appointed Hans-Jürgen Verdieck as HJ district leader, a young student from my student federation. He had been active in the movement for years, and was an SS leader. It was not easy to win him over to the job. Verdieck was the speaker at many events that the HJ groups in Kiel and Heikendorf were holding everywhere in Kiel and the countryside. Verdieck brought another student along, Willi Rühmann. Verdieck, Rühmann, and I were always together, and soon we three were resolved to build the HJ in Kiel into a revolutionary model for the youth of all Schleswig-Holstein.
The recruiting meetings we held in the countryside in September 1931 showed that the greatest exertions and achievements could be demanded of the Kiel HJ. Often we held four meetings a week, and attempted to found new HJ groups that same evening. Inge Meier also brought together all groups under her leadership in the BDM, and this “sisterhood of the HJ” cooperated in the ambitious September campaign.
By the end of 1931, we had three units (Scharen) in Kiel under Verdieck, Rühmann, and Fide Wittkop, and local groups or groups in Heikendorf, Laboe, Schönkirchen, Schönberg, Schleesen, Probsteierhagen, Preetz, Gettorf, and Russee. Sometimes these local groups had to be founded a number of times, sometimes they brought together members from the surrounding villages. The Kiel HJ did not dissipate its strengths through this campaign in the countryside, but rather grew through it. All of the weekend hikes also had the goal of finding a HJ group in the countryside and doing something with the lads there. Each hike had a political goal.
In Kiel, the broader work of the HJ continued. Verdieck constantly organized marches through the city, particularly in the red district. We continued this propaganda until the seizure of power. The middle class, particularly the “ultra nationalists,” did everything they could against these marches, even persuading some party comrades that one should keep children away from politics. We nonetheless continued along our straight path and even sometimes included the younger boys (Jungvolk) in street fights. In summer 1939, the Jungvolk was turned over to Emil Brocke. When Emil Brocke became adjutant to the Unterbannführer, Jochen Hartmann took over. He led it with the same spirit as Hempel, Verdieck, and Rühmann led the whole HJ, and Inge Meyer the BDM.
Sunkel had founded the Volkskampf, the only National Socialist newspaper in Kiel. It already had a regular youth section, for which Verdieck, Roggelin, Rühmann, and I wrote articles, appeals, and reports. At the same time, the National Socialist school organization, founded in 1928 by Willi Ziegenbein as the National Socialist Pupils’ Ring and incorporated in 1930 in the Reich organization of the NSS, carried on energetic activities in Kiel’s high schools and won over more than a hundred pupils for the National Socialist idea.
The successful promotional activities of September 1931 were repeated in November 1931. Once again, the trucks rolled through the countryside with the HJ drama group, which performed folk dances, songs, puppet shows, and music. After that, “youth comrade Verdieck” generally gave a recruiting speech.
The Kiel Hitler Youth had particular difficulties beginning in December 1931 at Schönberg in Holstein. From then on, there was constant conflict with the Stahlhelm and the Scharnhorst [the Stahlhelm’s youth organization] in the Probstei area. We continually tried to build an HJ leadership in Schönberg that could oppose the Stahlhelm and gradually win over members of Scharnhorst to the Hitler Youth. The direction became clear only much later, when party comrade Westerhaus took over the Schönberg HJ. Before that, we had often enough distributed leaflets during the night in Schönberg opposing the Scharnhorst. Our struggle against those sympathetic to the Stahlhelm was proved correct, by the way, when shortly before the takeover of power the then local group leader of the party gave up his position and left the party because he did not want to fight against Papen. Otherwise, however, relations with other local groups and the SA were very good, and we had their support when needed, even though we never gave up the goal of our own organization with its own young leaders.
1931 was the year of growth for the Kiel HJ. The revolutionary force of the Kiel Hitler Youth spread in every wider circles throughout the countryside, and one country group after another was founded. Our comrade Fritz Schröder drowned this year (on 15 March) while on HJ duty. Suppression by the police and government organs began to take on a threatening dimension this year. The two solstice celebrations in June and December were again the center point of HJ activities.
The same struggle continued in 1932, but to a much greater degree. More local groups were founded in the countryside, in Dänischenhagen, Melsdorf, Voorde, Elmschenhagen. We could finally undertake an assault on red Friedrichsort. The party, the SA, and the “Fighting Federation of Unemployed National Socialists” had constantly tried to get a foothold, but there were only a few active SA men there, and no party local group. The Hitler Youth finally succeeded in establishing a small group, the first National Socialist organization to be regularly active in Friedrichsort. We reinforced the Friedrichsort Hitler Youth with lads from the surrounding villages so that Walli Onken soon had a relatively large number of lads that he could call on in the Marxist citadel. We were always very proud of our local group in Friedrichsort, that nest of Reds, but if SA Sturmbannführer Jeß had not given us Walli Onken, it would never have happened.
The SA leader at the time was Lothar Lange from Altona, who now often came to Kiel to inspect our work. In general, the higher offices back then did not give many instructions to individual HJ local groups. We had to rely on our own resources. We merely passed on money, submitted reports, and gave the units the names of their superiors. Gauschulungswart Bischoff often spoke to our meetings.
Our activity took on a special character during the Reich presidential election of 13 March. Since we opposed Hindenburg, our Kiel Hitler Youth received an enormous boost. Now we could make it clear to even the last misled Marxist youth that we were honest in wanting to go our own way. The constant battles before the Reich presidential election were conducted by the greater part of the Kiel Hitler Youth, along with the SA and SS.
Immediately after the election, we held our large boys’ camp in the villages near Kastorfer-Passau with 130 Jungvolk boys. There probably had never been such a big boys’ camp for so long a period. This camp took place at a time when Brüning’s emergency degrees were at their height. Two people with party badges were not allowed to walk next to each other on the street, and the Kiel HJ was banned, so it had to carry on under a different name. Our 130 Pimpfe [young boys], reinforced during the Easter season by HJ groups, made the whole Kastorfer-Passau area nervous, and aroused the rage of Kiel’s Marxists. The parents of most of these Jungvolkpimpfe were still Marxists, but our education and vacation camp had persuaded them that their boys were in good hands with us. Many Marxists were thereby won over to our movement.
A Marxist terror wave began in April, with attacks on Hitler Youth members increasing day by day, and Jungvolkpimpfe in particular were constantly beaten bloody by weaklings. That was the answer to your Jungvolk camp. But it will never be forgotten that our Pimpfe, only eleven or twelve years old, never let themselves be defeated, fighting in 1932 as hard as those who were older. Things were particularly tough at the Ostufer and the Exerzierplatz. There were even Jungvolk leaders in these red districts who chased away adult Reichsbanner [Social Democrats] and Rotfront [Communists] people, sometimes even with revolvers, and often enough with clubs. Herbert Rohr from Gaarden deserves special mention, a former fisherman on the Selenter See.
When the SA was prohibited from protecting our meetings, the Sturmjugend of the Kiel Hitler Youth sprang instantly into the breach, and hundreds of big lads defended meetings in the Nordostsee Hall and other large meeting places in Kiel. The Sturmjugend had gotten almost as big as the SA, and Hans Verdieck had it in such good form that any task, no matter how difficult, could be handled by these lads. He had a whole butcher brigade, consisting entirely of butchers’ apprentices who often marched in their butchers’ uniforms because of the ban on uniforms. The opponents were scared to death of this group, since they suspected that some of them carried their knives under their jackets.
Over a thousand Hitler Youth and Hitler Girls heard Hitler speak the day before the state parliament election in Kiel, and found new strength. Several Pimpfs gave the Führer flowers and a photo album with pictures of our Jungvolk camp in Kastorfer-Passau.
There was a three-day HJ gathering in Hohenwestredt in the middle of May, in which Group 8 from Kiel was the strongest and best trained group. We now became a district, with a city group and a countryside group. From this gathering on, each member of the Hitler Youth in Schleswig-Holstein knew that those from Kiel in their short pants were revolutionary lads who nonetheless displayed iron discipline.
I began a major series of educational talks on 2 June. Besides our leaders from the HJ, DJ, and BDM, a large number of leaders from the federated, Christian, and gymnastic youth groups in Kiel came regularly. At these discussion evenings, the fundamentals of our educational work for the coming period were laid out.
During this period, there was a conflict between the Hitler Youth and the National Socialist Student Federation (NSS). The Student Federation had done exemplary work at Kiel’s high schools, and fought relentlessly against the teachers who were hostile towards us. However, when the students began to hold their own political meetings in the red districts, things had to go wrong, since they had no practical political experience. Transferring the active NSS people to the Hitler Youth, which had by now overtaken the NSS numerically, had to happen sooner or later. After lots of back and forth maneuvering, the NSS in Kiel became part of the Hitler Youth on 10 June 1932, and I became district leader of the NSS. That brought a large number of active people into the Hitler Youth.
We were bombarded with police and court penalties back then. Each of our leaders had a thick folder full of summons, fines, etc. The police went after us with any and all means, not shying from sending paid spies into our midst. They never succeeded in destroying us, and we took care of one of their spies in such a way that such cases became less frequent. We had steady dealings with “Blume,” room 124 of the court, and with various police offices throughout the year. June centered around the election. This time, the Kiel Hitler Youth put up half of the nocturnal posters. Fights and arrests were the order of the day. The Kiel police went after our lads with unbelievable brutality.
Clearly, such increasing claims on all the youth for the political battle drew increasing resistance from the parents. There was no end to the letters of complaint and insults, often from our opponents. We had but one response: to maintain iron discipline with the strongest means in our activities. He who came late, or who did not go straight home after duty, was expelled. About a third of all new members were expelled within four weeks. The Hitler Youth Gauleitung at first feared that we might lose too much as a result, but the opposite was the case. Our HJ leaders took action against the most minor offense. A standard cure was straps and belts that their own comrades used against the troublemakers. Stealing money, which happened only rarely, was dealt with in the presence of all comrades of the group. The lad was interrogated, then driven out of the Hitler Youth. Parents had to at least grant us that we maintained iron discipline. To free us from many minor complaints, we established a good group. On 24 November, we set up a “Council of Parents and Friends” (Eufrat), founded by Verdieck, Inge Meyer, and me. All the parents were invited to a meeting and told that they should work with the Hitler Youth to train their lads. Their parliament was the “Eufrat.” We stacked the deck, of course. People proposed party comrade Lück as the chairman, party comrade Dr. Rudolf as the second member, and party comrade Sturmbannführer Pohl as the third. These three party comrades had been loyal to the Hitler Youth through the toughest times, and helped take some problems from us. The parents were satisfied since they now apparently had something to say.
Papen’s reactionary period gave the Kiel Hitler Youth its final boost. We could now openly oppose the reactionary position, and hundreds of former Marxists streamed to us because we could make it clear to them that socialism was possible only within our ranks. Leaflets, stickers, and ads in newspapers called out to the “comrades in the Jungbanner” [Social Democrats], and the young Nazis gradually gained the upper hand in factories, while the confidence of the Reds kept diminishing. Some of the older generation were confused or discouraged by Papen’s government, but many kept streaming into the Kiel Hitler Youth.
As evidence of our revolutionary drive for something new, Verdieck worked tirelessly to find the money for a shawm band [a kind of wind instrument]. It was probably the first Hitler Youth shawm band in Germany, and we founded it to commemorate Horst Wessel, who led the first SA shawm band. This band always spurred us on during the days of oppression. It grated on the ears of the middle class, and gave our Marxists the first occasion to pay attention to us. The Kiel Hitler youth during the period of struggle is unthinkable without their shawms — and it will see to it today that the battles of those days are never forgotten.
The Kiel HJ with their band traveled in fourteen trucks and busses in October to the first Reich Youth Congress in Potsdam. Our lads sat and stood in the most impossible positions for twelve hours in the packed vehicles, but the days in Potsdam were a tremendous experience for each Hitler lad and Hitler girl. It was at this point particularly necessary for our lads to see and hear our leaders once again — the Reich Youth Leader and the Führer himself — since our HJ Gau leader was not up to the new challenges. Our lads and girls needed to see the men whom we were working for. Adolf Hitler seemed to be especially pleased as our procession of 100 marched past the leaders of the movement, with the HJ flag and shawm band at the head, the lads with rolled up sleeves, short pants, and socks rolled down. He even sent one of his staff to me to ask where these lads came from.
The old Gau leader of HJ Nordmark was replaced in December 1932 by district leader Schmitz, with whom we Hitler Youth in Kiel were quickly in accord. He approved our revolutionary efforts, and we gave him the greatest honor we could: he spoke at our winter solstice ceremony alongside the fire. Thus ended 1932, the year with the most events for our Hitler Youth in Kiel. It will probably remain particularly strong in the memory of each old fighter.
1933 was also a year of battle for Kiel’s Hitler Youth, if under different conditions. A day before our Führer became Reich Chancellor, our Sturmjugend held a big march through the red district of the city, and district leader Schmitz gave a speech in which he demanded, in the name of the youth, the chancellorship for Adolf Hitler. The takeover of power itself, and the Day of the Awakening Nation in March, were actually self-evident to us, and many of the lads were already thinking about what new things would come. “Cleaning up” actions began everywhere, such as the occupation of Marxist facilities, raising the swastika flag at schools, and everything else that was being done all over Germany. The Jungvolk did something special. One afternoon, they suddenly occupied all Jewish department stores and saw to it that they had to close for the afternoon. This occurred before the general closing of the department stores, and gained us as many friends as enemies in Kiel. When the party carried out the official closing of department stores, there were not enough SA and SS men available, and the Hitler youth were still not finished with work at 3 p.m. The occupation and closing of the department stores was thus carried out by Kiel’s Jungvolk, this time with the support of the party, SA, and SS. When our county leader Behrens became mayor on 11 March, the Kiel Hitler Youth used the opportunity to close all the schools. We posted lads with signs we had painted overnight in front of all the schools. All the boys went to the New Market to honor their new National Socialist mayor. We were happy to be able to at least once show our teachers in Kiel that a new era had begun. After that, the Hitler Youth went to many of the schools and hauled out the black-red-gold flags from the attics and took down the pictures of Ebert from the walls, hoisting for the first time the red swastika flags and those of the Hitler Youth. Sometimes, this met strong resistance from the principals and custodians. Many teachers still thought that we had to be for the Weimar flags and pictures that we had ceremonially burned in the school courtyards, since they would soon be back up again in Germany.
The Hitler Youth took part in growing numbers in parades, mass meetings, and ceremonies. We gradually became part of the new state. I, for example, became city council representative for Kiel’s youth.
The district received a new district leader, Lühr Oldigs, since district leader Schmitz was transferred to Pomerania. The Bannführer for East Schleswig, to which Kiel belonged, was first party comrade Gießler, than Bannführer Jaenisch, and finally me. On 20 March, after we had taken Walkerdamm away from the Reds, we gave up our old business office on Lerschenstraße and moved the headquarters there. I set up by Bann office, and later Oberbann office, on the Hindenburgufer in a former red youth hostel. The old Nazi newspaper seller Stolli became head of the youth hostel. When Verdieck was needed to head the Bann, and later Oberbann, Willi Rühmann took over the Kiel group, which he led until the end of 1933. At the large district march at Neuminster in June, I could inform our Reich Youth Leader that Bann East Holstein was the strongest of the four Banne in Nordmark. The crowning of our efforts was the huge SA march in Kiel the same month, to which Adolf Hitler himself came. Hikes, training courses, and educational camps continued just as in the years of battle.
As chairman of the Commission for the Youth, I organized a march of all Kiel youth groups on 13 March, and made it clear that they now were under the leadership of the Hitler Youth, and over time had to be incorporated into the Hitler Youth. Rühmann gave a major speech and called for a united youth front. In fact, we had already succeeded in bringing the federated youth groups, along with some of the Christian and gymnastics groups, into our ranks. We held firmly to the rule that we would not take whole groups into the HJ, DJ, and BDM, but rather only individual members, and that the leaders of other groups had to do what we said. These efforts continued throughout the entire year, and we would certainly have finished by the end of 1933, had there not always been party comrades who argued for independent work by the gymnasts and Christians. We did succeed in incorporating countless groups, always the best ones, into the Hitler Youth, and some of their leaders soon became members of our leadership not because of a desire for personal gain, but because they had come to us with true conviction.
The Scharnhorst question was a special chapter. Although there had not been a significant Scharnhorst group in Kiel or its surroundings before, it grew like rabbits. The explanation was simple: the remains of the Marxist youth groups streamed into it since they gave out free uniforms. It took quick action to stop these people, who had formerly stayed in their basements, from marching with hundreds of the youth, and giving the Marxists a chance to reorganize. Things were the same in Oberbanns South and East Holstein, so as Oberbannführer I gave clear directives against the Scharnhorst groups. Everywhere in the countryside, and also in Kiel, there were fights, which the Scharnhorst groups naturally lost. We reached an agreement for the Scharnhorst groups to join us, and under our old Kiel conditions. We generally dispensed with the services of the old leaders. After a few fights, the Scharnhorst in Kiel was absorbed on 29 September, and the next day everywhere within the Oberbann.
The Hitler Youth and the German Jungvolk were now receiving city funds that the mayor provided for our lads, which we knew how to use. That was most clearly shown by our two major undertaking during the vacation period in 1933. Under the leadership of Stammführer Hermannsen (today head of the agricultural service year district), there was a big HJ camp at Hohwachter Bay for the full period. Oberjungbannführer Jochen Hartmann and I set aside paperwork for four weeks and took a four-week trip through the Bohemian Forest with 80 selected Jungvolk boys, mostly from Kiel. The trip was divided into small groups of eight to ten, which met occasionally for common events. The highpoint was a ceremony at Little Arber Lake, which the lads still talk about today. Recruiting events in Plauen in Vogtland, Annaberg in the Erzgebirge, and Chemnitz made the Kiel Jungvolk known in the Reich. The conclusion was a roll call at the Reich Youth Headquarters in Berlin.
At the same time, a few Hitler Youth took a trip to Sweden with one of our sailboats, and had many experiences. It was probably the first boat with out HJ pendant in a Swedish harbor.
During the transformation, we took over the Friends of Nature building in California, near Schönberg on the Baltic Sea. After long negotiations, we got this building for the Hitler Youth. We held two consecutive courses there at the end of September and the beginning of October for leaders of the Oberbann. Verdieck, Hermannsen, and I led the eight-day courses, each of which had 60 HJ and DJ leaders from Schleswig-Holstein. It was strenuous work for the lads, but especially in the second course, there was a revolutionary, fresh spirit. A few weeks before, I had gotten rid of about 80 HJ and DJ leaders who were too old, replacing them with young leaders, some of whom were at these courses. The Kiel Hitler Youth worked here in California to spread its spirit to the rest of Schleswig-Holstein.
The unpleasant events of December cast their shadow over the last months of 1933. Misunderstandings can never be entirely avoided, at least not in a revolutionary year. Much of what happened can be explained by that, much also by the fact that the Kiel Hitler youth moved too fast. And our former opponents had a role as well. Each has a different opinion today of the “trouble” of 1933. The Kiel Hitler Youth acted in a Holsteinic and Germanic manner, if also incorrectly. The old HJ leaders had to go, but their determination had also preserved the uniqueness of the Kiel HJ, and the direction they set would continue.
The Kiel HJ acted as their honor commanded. They could not do otherwise. There will be misunderstandings, unhealthy developments, and too rapid revolutionary developments among the youth as long as people exist, and covert enemies will have an easy time during such periods to cause trouble hidden behind the mask of an honest man. Such opposition by the youth, however justified it may be, must always by condemned by the state. The responsible leaders must be clear that they must hold their head high, being willing to sacrifice their positions. When there was no other choice between dishonor for the Kiel HJ and disobedience and surrender by the Kiel leadership, the second choice is the German choice. The Kiel HJ followed this path to the bitter end, thereby saving the honor of Kiel’s HJ of the period of struggle. Although each Hitler Youth member may have believed he was acting in a National Socialist manner, such a battle can never be the norm, since the law of our state is discipline. He who breaks that law must sacrifice his own person, since there is no other way.
History of the HJ in Heikendorf
During spring 1931, posters were put up all over Heikendorf, Mönkeberg, Möltenort, and Kitzeberg advertising the NS youth movement, and calling on the youth to attend a meeting in the Landhaus. There was still no National Socialist youth group in Heikendorf. The Scharnhorst existed only in Kitzeberg, that town of the more prosperous folk, but it had only rich kids as members. Not many came to this meeting in Landhaus. Despite that fact, district leader Hempel founded a group in Heikendorf. The battles and growth of NS youth now began. Hempel had rented a building in Kitzeberg where we held our meetings. He told us about HJ hikes and their battles in Kiel. We were the first group in the countryside around Kiel, and were proud when we could march for the first time in out brown uniforms. On 20 June 1931, we experienced our first summer solstice ceremony in Dänischienhof, together with the Kiel HJ.
In summer 1931, a few Heikendorf Hitler Youth took a trip to Dithmarschen with the district leader. When the trip was over, we worked every day at our office on a puppet show. When everything was finished and we could do it in our sleep, we traveled by truck from village to village to perform our puppet show. The policeman in Probsteier sometimes tried to ban our puppet theater as too radical, but we always kept on until the end.
Our small group gradually grew larger. We made a particular point of posting hand-made posters in Kitzeberg that talked about calcified officials and appealed to the lads in Scharnhorst. We also had some banned posters from Munich.
We had a teacher named Kossow in the school in Heikendorf. He tried to rip the swastika banner from my bicycle, but did not succeed. He always spoke against the Hitler people in school. We fought this red teacher from then on, even during class. When the middle school learned that I was in the HJ, they tried to throw me out — but they did not beat us down. We had fanatic faith and iron wills.
On 7 May 1932, we had a big HJ recruiting evening in the Landhaus. Every seat was filled. The red gymnasts were meeting in the Hotel Stadt Kiel, across from us. When they threw things through the window, the biggest fight Heikendorf had ever seen began. If the Kiel HJ had not been there, we would have drawn the short end, but the Reds got what they deserved.
Our recruiting evenings continued. In 1932, the groups in Laboe and Heikendorf had to be split in two. Jans Haack had the Sturmjugend, Bauer the Jungvolk, in Laboe. In Heikendorf, Kurt Beyer had the Sturmjugend, I the Jungvolk. Our district leader was always proud of the Ostufer, since we included nearly all the villages and were revolutionary Hitler Youths.
Siegfried von Kiedrzynsi, Unteroffizier
History of Friedrichsort
The Red Fortress is Conquered
In March 1932, I was transferred from the SA to the HJ. I had a simple order: to establish a HJ group in the red fortress of Friedrichsort, and to break the red terror using any and all means! Our district leader Hempel was ready to give me the greatest possible authority.
I began with several lads from Holtenau. Several from Kiel-Wik also provided support. We held our first evening meeting at the bowling alley “Waffenschmiede” in Holtenau. We were happy to have a roof over our heads. A few comrades were almost always missing on Wednesdays and Fridays, not because they were lazy, but because they had been hindered along the way by political opponents. All too soon, word had gotten around that the Hitler Youth were active in Holtenau.
From Holtenau, we dared take on the reddest nest in the province: Friedrichsort. We first recruited the few sons of the four party comrades in the area. That was a start. In June, we already had twenty HJ lads in Holtenau and Friedrichsort.
We were named a group, and our opponents were so angry that they did not know what to do. It is impossible to record all the acts of terror that since member of this group encountered every day. From Holtenau-Friedrichsort, we spread by June 1932 to Dänischienhagen, then to Schilksee. Here, too, party comrade Gadewberg founded the HJ.
The HJ was at the big fight in Klausdorf, and at the Union House along with everyone in Eckernförde and our HJ comrades from Gettorfer, a day that cost our opponents two deaths. Our hooligans from Group 175 were always there when there was trouble. The guys from Friedrichsort even got a few scratches in Heikendorf.
In fall 1932, it was no longer possible to send anyone alone to Friedrichsort. The opponents, the very strong SAJ and the other Marxist groups, the gymnastics club, and the Christian youth joined together to beat up our HJ. They greatly outnumbered us, but not in bravery and camaraderie. When terror on the streets did not work any longer, they tried to cause as much trouble as possible for comrades who were in school. Revenge came in April 1933: 14 of 22 comrades had been held back in school, two twice.
During the election, the HJ in Friedrichsort and SA men from Kiel provided protection for meetings. After each meeting, our lads were persecuted in Friedrichsort on the days following. But we held the positions we had conquered, and our district leader gave us two banners at the “Waffenschmiede” in Holtenau, because we had proved that we could defend them with honor.
We estalished out first meeting place in October 1932 in a coal cellar of the Kiil family in Holtenau. There we had our best times, and planned all the tricks we played on our opponents. Friedrichsort did not want to lag behind, so the Jungvolk leader Heinz Schuchard established an HJ meeting place in an old horse stall. That was clever. It was a space that belonged to the treasury department. For months, they attempted to remove party comrade Schuchard from his civil servant position unless he threw the HJ out of the stall.
At the leadership meeting at the “Gänsekrug” on 13 November 1932, our group became Gefolgschaft 48. We included Russee, then Kronshagen, Suchsdorf, and Meimesdorf, where HJ groups had already been established from Kiel. The new unit marched for the first time at the big Kiel HJ march of 29 January 1933. As we marched back in groups, we met a mob of Marxists from Friedrichsort who were headed to Kiel at the high bridge in Holtenau. The next day, we marched through the streets again. A new era began in Friedrichsort, too, as Adolf Hitler took power.
Waldemar Onken, Unterbannführer
The HJ and Church Youth
Today it is clear that as early as 1931 certain church circles used covert ways to work against the HJ. The Hitler Youth in Kiel never itself attacked the Church, but from its earliest days did have a clear stance on Church matters. The Kiel youth was not at all active in the Christian Church, so we had no occasion to use our authority over the Hitler Youth to help establish the authority that the Church had lost. Even back]n then, Church attendance by the youth was poor. The Sunday hikes the HJ took were not responsible for that, since that had been true earlier.
The position of the Church in Kiel toward the HJ before the takeover of power can be stated briefly: partially neutral, partially opposed. We hardly had any friends there. Many Kiel pastors were Free Masons. And in general they belonged to the “better circles,” and did not understand how to be popular, or to recognize the signs of the times. During the period of struggle we tried an experiment by trying to get a few rooms at the Christian youth building in Klosterkirchhof. Any youth group in Kiel could rent their facilities for a modest fee. We, however, were told that we could not use their space, since we were political.
We founded the Hitler Youth in Holtenau in 1932.The local Christian leader of the BDJ immediately went to the parents of the lads we had recruited and attempted to persuade them to withdraw their children. And he was successful, since the larger part of them had to leave the HJ.
The Christian Youth Federation in Kiel managed a particularly interesting stunt on 24 June 1933. Six Christian girls from the girls’ club “Tabea” spied at our summer solstice ceremony at which I spoke. The girls hid themselves behind the bushes before the ceremony began. It was, apparently, not too dark to keep them from taking notes on my “dangerous” speech. The report went to youth pastor P. It was filled with lies from a to Z. Even the basic details were wrong. For example, I supposedly came by car (I’d actually come with the steamer to Möltenort), and so on. It is true that I spoke about the Christian youth federations and our attitudes toward the Christian Church in a factual and careful way. I supposedly said things like if the Christian youth does not dissolve itself, we would be walking over Christian corpses within eight weeks, that Pastor Bodelschwingh was a man who fattened his belly at state expense, and similar nonsense.
It went so far in Kiel that the summer solstice ceremony and high-level HJ officials were spied on by the sneakiest means, with lying reports spread thereafter. The report of those Christian girls was submitted to the party’s Gauleitung in December 1933 as a “Complaint about the Kiel HJ.”
The Swastika Flies over the School
During a boring chemistry class, my friend Hein and I decided to hoist a swastika flag over our school at night. During the break, I stole the necessary key from the janitor.
At twilight that same evening, I met Hein as the school. We got to work immediately, sneaking like thieves onto the school roof. I opened the door. Tall Hein undertook the task of hoisting the flag, then smearing the flagpole with soap to make it impossible to lower it. I had locked the door to the roof behind us.
The janitor had spotted us. He had his dog along, and yelled through the locked door that we should give up. We could not let ourselves be identified, so we came to the only possible solution: to force our way to freedom by covering our faces with handkerchiefs. We suddenly opened the door and ran past the confused janitor. We kicked the dog to render him harmless. We got away scot free, and could see our proud flag waving from the top of the school in the twilight.
Back then, our Kiel Hitler Youth was a small group of about 50. It was divided into three units. Our new unit was to take its first hike on Sunday, 15 March. We wanted to meet early in the morning at the Schulensee. The only one at the meeting point, however, was Fritz Schröder. He was a former member of the Wandervogel (Geuse), and one of the toughest. The other comrades had to work as usual on Sunday morning. The two of us, Schröder and I, were the only two high school pupils in the HJ.
Despite our limited number, we marched to Westensee in the direction of the village of Schierensee. The lakes were still frozen over, and the landscape was bleak and barren. We went from Westensee to Little Schierensee. The lake is in a large, high pine forest. This gives it a peculiar, dark appearance, in contrast to the other attractive lakes in Holstein. It is in the shape of a long oval. From one end, one cannot see and hear what is happening at the other end.
Since two men were standing on the ice fishing through a hole, we thought the ice was safe. We crossed the lake lengthwise to cut the distance. On the far side, however, the ice was thawed by some sort of spring, so we had to change our direction. After a few steps in the new direction, we broke through the ice. We tried to climb out, but the ice kept breaking, and we fell back into the cold water. Our cries for help were lost in the trees. Each tried to save his own life. After a while, I saw that I was alone at the edge of the ice. Schröder had disappeared into the large hole that we had broken in the ice. I was in danger of the same fate. After half an hour, I succeeded in climbing out. I got to land and called for help. Help was in vain. Only Schröder’s corpse was found.
Schröder’s burial was a powerful affirmation of our dead comrade by National Socialists in Kiel, along with the HJ, the SA, and the SS. We could not wear our uniforms at the time, since the Republic had forbidden it, but of course we carried Schröder to the grave in our uniforms. When the ceremony was over, the Dietrich police were waiting for us outside the cemetery. They went after us with billy clubs. They ripped our shirts off, we were driven off, and our leaders were arrested. With bare chests, we marched through the city. We were continually beaten by the police, but always came together again. It was our last march with Fritz Schröder. He did not die at home in bed, but rather on duty while on a hike.
His mother never reproached us, and always let her other boys go on our hikes.
Fritz Schröder will always be an obligation for us Kiel Hitler Youths.
Jürgen Scheunnemann, leader applicant, Vogelsang
Reich Youth Rally in Potsdam
1. The trip.
We were in the midst of the hardest battles with Papen’s reactionary forces. Youth were streaming into the HJ, the DJ, and the BDM. The party and the SA were being terrorized by this supposedly national government more than even under the red regime. Never was our treasury so empty as at the end of 1932. We had been doing everything we could for weeks to make it possible to bring as many youth as possible to Potsdam. We saved every penny, cut back expenses everywhere — we needed a lot of money for the trucks, a lot of money for the equipment and uniforms, a lot of money for the shawm band.
“Are you coming along? Shall I speak with your boss?”
“That would be stupid. He surely won’t give me time off.”
“So you’re not coming?”
“What do you mean? I’ve got the Potsdam disease.”
Friday, 30.9.1932 was the day of departure. Fourteen trucks stood ready at the Augustenburg Square, five hundred boys and girls were present, with a thousand others watching the departure. About sixty boys and girls came at the last minute, without reservations. They had put together the money needed only at the last minute. We could not send them away. They were the poorest or our poor Hitler Youth. Two more busses were rented, everything on credit.
Several parents were there to give our HJ leaders good advice. One mother had made her boy a brown shirt, but did not have the money to pay for the trip. A father wanted to have his son get off the truck, since he had not gotten a good place. The motors rumbled, an unhappy Pimpf stood all alone in the middle of the street. But the tall Willi Rühmann picked up the boy and threw him in to the last truck, then jumped in himself. Our shouts of “Germany awake!” drowned out the shouts of the worried papa.
The column left with great enthusiasm. Stones were thrown at us in Elmschenhagen. But as we passed through each town, we shouted our revolutionary chants, our flags waved, and we sang our songs. We traveled the whole night. By morning, we were in the huge tent camp at Potsdam.
2. In Potsdam.
The days in Potsdam are unforgettable. We were hungry, and were often so tired that we could hardly keep going. We complained, but these days were nonetheless a tremendous experience. Many spoke in the evening at the stadium, then the Reich Youth Leader spoke about leadership, socialism, and duty, concepts that the German people had lost, but which the workers’ leader Adolf Hitler had given back to the people, not Herr von Papen. The slogan was: Reich Youth Rally against Reaction. Even the last sleeping Pimpf woke up. Adolf Hitler stepped to the podium. His youth applauded him for long minutes, that huge crowd that had made a pilgrimage to its leader. And the Führer spoke words that went to everyone’s soul, and which we will never forget, of the injustice to which Germany’s youth would never submit.
The next day, Potsdam’s streets belonged to the HJ. There were more Hitler Youth than even the bravest predictions had expected. Despite the fact that they were banned, we sang our fighting songs and shouted our slogans. First, we let our shawm band play, then suddenly, in the middle of the tune, a powerful voice cried “Papen!’ and hundreds of voices responded “Get out of Berlin!” We also shouted that Adolf Hitler would become Reich chancellor, and constantly chanted against the bourgeoisie and the reactionaries.
For the first time, we marched with our shawm band. They only knew a few songs, but their revolutionary music was nowhere better than at our march in Potsdam. Hans Verdieck himself directed the band. which meant that our fighting songs were played with powerful force. Our Hitler Youth and Pimpfs marched even more upright and briskly to the music. Our march past the Führer and the men of our movement was particularly strong, and the eyes of the Kiel youth beamed especially brightly. Adolf Hitler sent someone to ask us where we came from, and Dr. Goebbels also asked about us. Those at Potsdam will never forget how the Führer looked at us as we marched past.
It was the same in the tent camp. The whole huge camp was in a rare good mood. Loud shouts of “Heil!” went across the camp as one or the other of the leaders came past. Our Jungvolkpimpfs sang their hiking songs untiringly, our shawm band played moving battle songs.
Jochen Hartmann had a tough battle in the tent camp. In his history of the group, he wrote: “We guys from Kiel had made an alliance with those from Silesia, who were next door, since they were good lads. Several ‘Peronjers’ came to us in the afternoon to challenge our strongest man to a fight. I volunteered and thought: ‘Wi vun de Woterkanrt mütt de Peruntschers mool wiesen, wat bi uns speelt ward.’ [I’m not quite up to a translation of the dialect.] The Silesian met me in a ring formed by a crowd from both groups. The Silesians and Schleswig-Holsteiners yelled insults back and forth. I hardly gave my unprepossessing opponent a look as I entered the ring. The weapons were our honorable fists. I’d already gotten several blows to my little opponent’s neck. Then my ugly opponent suddenly ripped off his right leg and swung the wooden leg over his head, hopping on his left foot in big jumps toward me. The stump of his right leg swung to and fro. The frightening effect of this weapon drove me out of the ring to the protection of my comrades. Was I beaten? From that moment on, the Silesians were our enemies, and we always kidnapped their lads and held them for ransom.”
We could tell countless stories about Potsdam. Our Kiel leaders had rented an old horse carriage and drove through the whole of Potsdam with it before returning to the camp. One of them put a monocle in his eye and greened everyone with gracious smiles and by saying “Front-Heil!” while placing two fingers on his cap.
On the return trip, we had good luck in misfortune. Dieter Hartmann, our old SZ leader, wrote as follows: “We had gone about 80 kilometers. It was about midnight, and the road was wet and slippery. Trucks and trailers were packed full. It was foggy ahead. At a sharp curve, a vehicle tottered from side to side — then there was a loud crash. The vehicle stopped.
As we got out of our wool blankets and climbed outside the truck, we had an alarming scene. The vehicle we were in had stopped exactly 30 centimeters from a telegraph pole, at the edge of the ditch. But what about our trailer? It kept going past the wet curve, and slid about fifteen meters. Now we knew why our vehicle had swayed as it had.
Not a sound came from the interior of the trailer, where there were about thirty people. We opened it up. There was a jumble of backpacks, suitcases, and Hitler Youth. They were still half asleep. Half complained about the mess and the rough ride. They only slowly realized that their trailer had had an accident. We freed them from their miserable situation, and it was a miracle! Other than a few cuts and a minor concussion, everyone was in good shape. Each stretched a bit, and then it was over.
We together got the trailer to the next village, where we continued the trip after three hours. To protect the driver, no one other than us heard about the accident. Dead tired, but with new courage, we got back to Kiel.”
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