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Hitler Youth

Film | Accession Number: 1994.121.1 | RG Number: RG-60.1175 | Film ID: 972

Heini Voelker (Juergen Ohlsen, an unidentified Hitler Youth) is a 15 year old and non-political apprentice in Berlin with a jobless Communist father. While at a Communist Youth camp to which he was sent by his father, Heini is deeply intrigued by the expression of discipline and comradeship at a nearby Hitler Youth camp. His mother gasses herself and attempts to gas the boy. During his recovery in the hospital, he is incorporated into a "substitute family" of Hitler Youth. Heini is stabbed to death by members of the Communist Youth while disseminating Nazi propaganda materials for the parliamentary elections of July 1932 in his poor and heavily Communist neighborhood of Beusselkiez. He dies with the final chorus line of the Hitler Youth song on his lips, "die Fahne ist mehr als der Tod" [the flag is more than the death]. The feature film was based on the life of Hitler Youth Herbert Norkus who was killed in January 1932 by Communists while campaigning for the Nazi party.

In the first years after coming to power, National Socialist propaganda focused in particular on topics including the irresistible rise of their once splinter movement towards the ruling party and the heroic deeds of some of their martyrs during the mythical "Kampfzeit" [era of struggle]. Similar in this vein are the less sophisticated and less successful films "SA-Mann Brand" and "Hans Westmar." By depicting unconditioned obedience, dedicated combat, and heroic sacrifice for the higher goal of National Socialism, the film was intended to increase membership in Nazi youth organizations. The contrast between the disorganized, filthy, and shadowy Communists and the orderly, idealistic, and bright Nazis is striking. UFA decided to produce this film on its own initiative based on a 1932 book with the same title by Karl Aloys Schenzinger. Soon, it came under the patronage of Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach. This Staatsauftragsfilm [film commissioned by the state] passed censorship on September 7, 1933 and premiered on September 11, 1933 in the Ufa-Phoebus-Palast in Munich. Hitler, Hess, and Heydrich attended the premiere, von Schirach addressed the crowd, and all observed a minute of silence for the murdered members of the Nazi movement. The film won distinctions as "kuenstlerisch besonders wertvoll" [especially artistically valuable] and "jugendwert" [of worth for the youth]. The forces of the future -- school classes and youth groups -- were targeted with special screenings at "Jugendfilmstunden" [youth film events] from 1934 on. The movie was eventually banned from the screens in 1942, with the exception of special screenings.

Production:  1933
Berlin, Germany
Accessed at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Library of Congress
Record last modified: 2021-06-03 12:48:21
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