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Lindsey Ward

Prof. Nadine Gordon

UWRT 1103


The Effect of the Nazi Regime on Children

During World War II, the Nazi controlled German government was known for their

ruthless tactics against the Jewish people and other minorities in Germany. But while the

attention of the world was focused on the collective atrocities committed against the Jewish

people, the Nazi party was shaping their view of Germany in the children. The tactics the Nazis

used focused on children because the party knew that the children, and their views, would shape

how the world would grow. The actions of the members of the Nazi party towards their own

children was meant to change their thinking and to show them how true Germans act, think, and

function and have the children grow up with those ideals. On the other side, the Nazi party

thought the Jewish people were less than human and rather than assimilating and changing those

children they sought to destroy them and therefore the traditions and cultures of their people.

With this thinking in mind, it is very evident how the Nazis thought and their ideal for the future

was shaped in their actions towards children.

Actions to shape the thoughts of their own children

The reign of the Nazi party in Germany lasted 12 years, and in that time the Nazi party focused

heavily on the children who they saw as the future of the Nazi party. The leader of the Nazi party

Hitler expressed how vital he thought children were to the success of the Nazi party, dedicating
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many pages of his book, Mein Kampf, to Aryan youth (Johnson 263). The Aryan race was the

ideal type person in Hitlers eyes and they characteristically had white skin, blonde hair, and blue

eyes. These people were treated as the future of the Nazi party and were raised to carry on the

traditions and views of the party. The main ways that the Nazis influenced these children was

through state controlled schooling and, eventually, mandatory afterschool programs designed to

glorify the views of the Nazis(?). In German schools, many things were changed when the Third

Reich came to power, many textbooks were removed from the schools, teachers whom the state

did not think they could control were fired, and many parts of the curriculum were changed to

promote Nazi views and a love for Hitler ("Indoctrinating Youth"). Hitler Youth and the League

of German Girls were afterschool programs that were designed by the Nazi state to promote

socialism and love for the German state. Both schools and Hitler youth programs were used to

teach children about the glory of Germany and turn the children into race-conscious, obedient,

self-sacrificing Germans who would be willing to die for Fhrer and Fatherland

("Indoctrinating Youth").

How those actions shaped their thinking

The way many of these children were raised heavily altered their thinking. From ideas about how

one race was superior than all others to teaching a biased history of the world, it was hard for

children not to fully believe in what the Nazi party wanted them to learn. The youth focused

campaign to promote socialism among the children of the Nazi party created excitement among

the children to become better Germans and make their country better for it. The purpose of much

of the Hitler youth activities was to erase any kind of class lines the children had in their minds.

They all wore the same uniform and did the same activities and for men when they turned 18

they were required to serve on the battle field or as a part of the labor service during world war
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two. Later in the war, when the Nazi party became even more desperate, the party started

enlisting children younger than 16 into their forces (Indoctrinating Youth"). After the war was

over, many Nazi influenced youth started guerrilla groups and fought back against the

controlling Allied forces. The Allied forces then started a de-Nazification process amongst the

children to try and counter when the Nazi party had taught the children during this wartime.

Actions against Jewish children

The actions that the Nazi party took against the Jewish children during World War II are well

known but many of the horrors the children went through were overshadowed by the overall

atrocities of the Holocaust. The Nazi party sent many of the Jewish people whom were in

Germany and the Nazi controlled regions to concentration and death camps. When Families and

children would arrive at these camps one of the first things they would encounter was two gates

where people would be ushered to the left or to the right. Most of the time children would be sent

to the side where the people whom the Nazi soldiers deemed unfit for work would go. These

children would be sent to gas chambers or killed just because the Nazi guards did not see any

value in their life. This was the reality for many children who were under the age of about twelve

who were forced to go to these camps. Older children who looked fit and strong enough to do the

work of an adult were kept alive. At some concentration camps, there were Nazi doctors who

conducted scientific experiments on some of the children to test different limits of human

resistance. A popular target of these medical experiments were twins. One example of these

medical tests was at the Auschwitz concentration camp where Dr. Josef Mengele injected

coliform into the hearts of twins to see if their death would be identical. (Continue on to Ghettos)
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How those actions shaped the thinking of those who survived

Many of the survivors of the Holocaust can sometimes have a hard time talking about their life

during the Holocaust. Some of those that do share their stories obviously have hard time coping

with the realities of their past while other can tell their story frankly and be open about their

experiences. Many children during the time of the Holocaust had to grow up very fast and they

did not get to do many things that normal children would be able to do find more information.