Organisation Information - Hitler Youth [Hitler Jugend (HJ)]
As early as 1922, the SA maintained authority of the German youth under the aegis of the Jugenbund der NSDAP (Youth League of the Nazi Party). The Hitler youth also had a female equivalent, the Bund Deutcher Madel, the League of German Girls. A section called The Deutsche Jungvolk was composed of boys to young to join the HJ; their ages ranging from 10 to 14.
In 1935, the HJ was officially formed and designated as a Party branch. Adolf Hitler appointed a youthful leader named Baldur von Schirach as the initial Reich Youth leader.
The 1939 Youth Service Decree made membership in the HJ mandatory for all German youth between the ages of ten and eighteen, except those whose blood was not pure Aryan. As Germany mobilised for an all-out war effort, the HJ became a convenient way to raise additional manpower. HJ units were formed in the majority of the occupied countries and members of the HJ served with all branches of the Wehrmacht and the Waffen SS.
Initially, the HJ was run by Baldur Von Schirach who supervised the great expansion of the organization. In 1940 Artur Axeman was appointed Reich Youth Leader until the end of the war.
As the war progressed, the premilitary training of the HJ between the ages of 16 and 18 was taken over by the Army with greater emphasis being given to military training in readiness for the Hitler Youth members joining the Wehrmacht.
The SS undertook much of the youth training and encouraged many youth members to join the Waffen SS ranks when they were of age.
In February 1943, the German Army was facing a man power shortage after great losses on the Russian front and developed schemes to draft in Hitler Youth members before the legal conscription age. This involved volunteer enlistment for 17 year olds with the consent of Artur Axeman and Himmler. As a result of this action, a Waffen SS division was formed with Hitler Youth (12th SS Panzer division) and served with distinction but suffered badly with only 455 of the original 10,000 soldiers left by the end of the war.
The Hitler Youth also took on additional war duties in Germany as manpower reduced. It supplied Fire Defence squads (HJ-Feurwehrscharen 700,000) and an auxiliary Flak organisation (100,000). The HJ was also trained in guerrilla warfare to harass the allies on their advance into Germany.
Hitler Youth Organizations
Dagger In formation - 1933 HJ Knife
The 1933 HJ knife was the first official edged weapon of the Third Reich.
During the 1920's there were many youth organizations which carried a small traveling knife for use on hiking and outdoor pursuits and, as a result, in 1928 Adolph Hitler stipulated that the Hitler Youth should also officially carry a traveling knife. No standard for knives was set and the type and quality of knife was dependent upon how much you paid. Due to these daggers being none standard, variations can be found that will boggle the mind.
In February 1933, Von Schirach decided to standardize the HJ knife and introduced the standard 1933 HJ knife shown above.
The fittings were made from nickel-plated steel and the hilt had a chequered phenolic resin or bakelite grip into which was set the diamond shape HJ badge in red, white and black enamel.
The blade was 14 cm long and had the HJ motto, Blut und Ehre! (Blood and Honour) etched into it in imitation of Von Schirach's handwriting. The etched motto was removed from the new blades in 1938. It should be noted that early HJ knifes can have rubber grips, wood grips, and even stag grips. Early variations are so numerous as to make the collecting of early HJ knifes a hobby in its self.
The scabbard was made from steel and lead based black enameled finished. It was suspended from the wearer's belt by means of a simple leather belt loop hanger with a press-stud loop to hold the grip. It should be noted that again variations exist in many forms of scabbard finishes such as black oxide finish with clear lacquer or Nickel-plated. Leather belt loop hangers are again in brown, black, thick, and thin, and even pressed paper on late made knifes. To find a Mint example is beyond hope!
The HJ grip insignia can be in a variety of styles, The standard is a red transparent and white opaque finish with black swastika, these are made out of a copper with silver washed finish. There is also a solid opaque white, a solid clear red, a solid blue, a blue and white, the list is just way to long to cover. As to what it means is anyone guess.
A note on these is that there is a gold washed hilt variation with gold washed HJ insignia with many different colour combinations. This is believed to be for the HJ Marine units. This is a very rare knife style and only a few exist in collection in collectable condition today.
A number of modified HJ knives were produced for pro Nazi youth movements in other countries. These normally had the HJ badge replaced by the relevant youth movement’s logo. Again these are super rare!
The HJ knife was discontinued in 1942 by which time over 15 million HJ knifes had been produced
Edited by Bruce Petrin