Nazi Germany quotations: children and education

nazi children education
Hitlerjugend leader Artur Axmann meets members of the group

Adolf Hitler and other Nazi leaders placed great importance on children and youth, developing policies and forming groups to indoctrinate them into the National Socialist movement. The best-known Nazi organisations for young people were the Hitlerjugend (‘Hitler Youth’) and the Bund Deutscher Mädel (‘League of German Girls’). These groups provided education in Nazi values and ideology, as well as socialisation and practical training.

This collection of Nazi Germany quotations pertains to children and education under Nazism. These quotations have been collected from primary sources and curated by Alpha History authors. If you would like to contribute a quotation for inclusion on this page, please contact Alpha History.

“Education has to be directed towards employing the free time of the boy for the useful training of his body. He has no right to loaf about idly in these years, to make streets and movie theatres insecure, but after his daily work, he has to steel and harden his young body so that life will not find him too soft some day. To get this underway, to carry it out, to guide and to lead is the task of the education of youth – and not the exclusive infiltration of so-called wisdom.”
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, 1924

“In 99 cases out of 100, the result of our present history teaching is wretched. A few facts, dates, birthdays and names remain behind while a broad clear line is totally lacking. The essentials, which should really matter, are not taught at all… The main value lies in recognising the great lines of development… For we do not learn history in order to know the past [but] to find an instructor for the future and the continued existence of our nationality.”
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, 1924

“If the older generation can not get accustomed to us, we shall take their children away from them and rear them as needful to the Fatherland.”
Adolf Hitler, June 1933

“I was in the Jungvolk at 10 years, Hitlerjugend at 14 years. Nearly 95 per cent joined both organisations. When you wanted to belong, you joined. I did not have a rank, I was just a member. In Jungvolk, we had a weekly meeting, had sport and building model glider airplanes… I did not feel weaned [separated] from my family.”
Erich Neumeier, former Hitlerjugend member

“I wanted to escape from my childish, narrow life and I wanted to attach myself to something that was great and fundamental… I longed to hurl myself into this current, to be submerged and borne along by it… The crashing tread of the feet, the sombre pomp of the red and black flags, the flickering light from the torches on the faces and the songs with melodies that were at once aggressive and sentimental… I was overcome with a burning desire to belong to these people for whom it was a matter of life and death.”
Melita Maschmann, BDM and NSDAP member, writing in 1964

“Our people need a generation of girls that are healthy in body and mind, sure and decisive, proudly and confidently going forward… Such girls will then, by necessity, carry the values of National Socialism into the next generation as the mental bulwark of our people.”
Trude Mohr, BDM leader, 1935

“The Hitler Youth never played the important role that people often ascribe to it in our little town of Hochberg… At least it didn’t play a very important role for the girls… But we learned so many nice songs during the group meetings that I enjoyed attending them and I stuck with it… Of course, we also had to go through some political lessons but we just suffered through those. I never actually felt indoctrinated.”
Ursula Dickreuther, BDM member

“We were much less influenced by the politics of the time than people think nowadays, and we hardly ever gave any thought to what the leadership was doing, especially at the young age we were back then. We didn’t know what a concentration camp was until we found out about them after the war, but we did know that people who spoke out against Hitler or made fun of him were arrested and sent to prison. We felt really good about our time in the Hitler Youth and I don’t remember ever having had any political lessons. For me, the group mostly presented an opportunity to meet other girls my age and to participate in sports and games.”
Elisabeth Frietsch, Jungmädel member

“We love our Fuhrer
We honour our Fuhrer
We follow our Fuhrer
Until men we are.

We believe in our Fuhrer
We live for our Fuhrer
We die for our Fuhrer
Until heroes we are.”
German nursery song

“We are the merry Hitler Youth
We need no Christian virtue
For our leader, Adolf Hitler
Is our redeemer, our intercessor…”
Nazi school song, October 1935

“Adolf Hitler, you are our great Führer. Thy name makes the enemy tremble. Thy Third Reich comes, thy will alone is law upon the earth. Let us hear daily thy voice and order us by thy leadership, for we will obey to the end and even with our lives. We praise thee! Heil Hitler!”
Hitlerjugend oath, written by Baldur von Schirach

“Instead of running to church, your mothers out to stay at home and prepare food for your fathers. And when somebody sends you boys to the Divine service, better you play football. And when one of your comrades will not join in the game, beat him until he drops dead.”
Karl Hoelz, adjutant to Julius Streicher, October 1936

“The whole function of education is to create a Nazi.”
Bernhard Rust, Nazi education minister, February 1938

“We begin with the child when he is three years old. As soon as he begins to think, he gets a little flag put into his hand. Then he follows the school, the Hitler Youth, the SA and military training. We don’t let him go. And then when adolescence is passed, then comes the Arbeitsfront, which takes him again and does not let him go until he dies, whether he likes it or not.”
Robert Ley, Nazi labour chief, 1938

“The school should always follow life, never try to set the pace for life. Life precedes the school. If schools follow the dictates of the Party, they will find their proper places.”
Nazi teacher’s manual, 1938

“I am trying through the teaching of geography to do everything in my power to give the boys knowledge and… judgment so that when, as they grow older, the Nazi fever dies down and it again becomes possible to offer some opposition, they may be prepared. There are four or five masters who are non-Nazis left in our school and we all work on the same plan. If we leave, Nazis will come in and there will be no honest teaching in the whole school.”
Dr Schuster, geography teacher, 1938

“My teaching is hard. Weakness has to be knocked out of them. In my Ordensburgen, a youth will grow up before which the world will shrink back. A violently active, dominating, intrepid youth, that is what I am after. Youth must be all those things. It must be indifferent to pain. There must be no tenderness or weakness in it. I want to see once more in its eyes the gleam of pride and independence of the beast of prey. Strong and handsome will my men be… Then I shall have in front of me the pure and noble natural material. With that, I can create the new order.”
Adolf Hitler, quoted by Herman Rauschning, 1940

“The children of today are the fighters of tomorrow. Their hardening and preparation is a task as important as that of the armaments industry.”
Schul-Rundkfunk education journal, January 1940

“Universal education is the most corroding and disintegrating poison that liberalism has ever invented for its own destruction.”
Adolf Hitler

“It is not the task of an elementary school to impart a multiplicity of knowledge for the personal use of the individual. It has to develop and harness all physical and mental powers of youth for the service of people and the state. The only subject that has any place in the school curriculum is that which is necessary to achieve this aim. All other subjects, springing from obsolete educational ideas, must be discarded.”
Nazi directive on elementary education, 1940

“Nazi schools are no place for weaklings. All children must, of course, finish primary school before they are ten but after that, the schools are proving grounds for the Party. Those who betray any weakness of body or have not the capacities for absolute obedience and submission must be expelled.”
Gregor Ziemer, American teacher, 1941

“The [Nazi] regime draws a sharp distinction between girls, inherently weak, and boys, natural exponents of strength. Boys and girls have nothing in common. Their aims, their purposes in life, are fundamentally different. Boys will become soldiers, girls will become breeders. Co-educational schools are manifestations of decadent democracies and hence are taboo.”
Gregor Ziemer, American teacher, 1941

“[Hitlerjugend leader Baldur] von Schirach, poisoner of a generation, initiated the German youth in Nazi doctrine, trained them in legions for service in the SS and Wehrmacht and delivered them up to the Party as fanatic, unquestioning executors of its will.”
Robert H. Jackson, US prosecutor at Nuremberg, 1946

“[Hitlerjugend leader] Baldur von Schirach was guilty of far more than war crimes. His was the deadly evil of corrupting the young. He poisoned the minds of an entire German generation. He trained and schooled the SS men, the men of the gas vans, the men of Auschwitz and Majdanek.”
New Central European Observer, 1948