Hitler Youth members performing the Nazi salute at a rally at the
In 1922, the Munich-based
Nazi Party established its official youth organisation called
Jugendbund der NSDAP. It was announced on 8 March 1922 in the
Völkischer Beobachter, and its inaugural meeting took place on 13 May the same year. Another youth group was established in 1922 as the
Jungsturm Adolf Hitler (
info). Based in
Bavaria, it served to train and recruit future members of the
Sturmabteilung (SA), the main paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party at that time. One reason the Hitler Youth so easily came into existence stems from the fact that numerous youth movements existed across Germany prior to and especially after
World War I. These youth organisations were created for varying purposes; some were religious in disposition and others were ideological, but the more important among them were those formed for political reasons, like the "Young Conservatives" or the "Young Protestants". Once Hitler came onto the revolutionary scene, the transition from seemingly innocuous youth movements to political entities focused on Hitler was swift.
Following the abortive
Beer Hall Putsch (in November 1923), the Nazi youth groups ostensibly disbanded, but many elements simply went underground, operating clandestinely in small units under assumed names. In April 1924, the Jugendbund der NSDAP was renamed Grossdeutsche Jugendbewegung (Greater German Youth Movement). On 4 July 1926, the Grossdeutsche Jugendbewegung was officially renamed Hitler Jugend Bund der deutschen Arbeiterjugend (Hitler Youth League of German Worker Youth). This event took place a year after the Nazi Party itself had been reorganised. The architect of the re-organisation was
Kurt Gruber, a law student from
Plauen in Saxony.
After a short power-struggle with a rival organisation—
Gerhard Roßbach's Schilljugend—Gruber prevailed and his "Greater German Youth Movement" became the Nazi Party's official youth organisation. In July 1926, it was renamed Hitler-Jugend, Bund deutscher Arbeiterjugend ("Hitler Youth, League of German Worker Youth") and, for the first time, officially became an integral part of the
Sturmabteilung. The name Hitler-Jugend was taken up on the suggestion of
Hans Severus Ziegler. By 1930, the Hitlerjugend (HJ) had enlisted over 25,000 boys aged 14 and upwards.
[a] They also set up a junior branch, the
Deutsches Jungvolk (DJ), for boys aged 10 to 14. Girls from 10 to 18 were given their own parallel organisation, the
League of German Girls (BDM).
In April 1932,
Heinrich Brüning banned the Hitler Youth movement in an attempt to stop widespread political violence. But in June, Brüning's successor as Chancellor,
Franz von Papen, lifted the ban as a way of appeasing Hitler, the rapidly ascending political star. A further significant expansion drive started in 1933, after
Baldur von Schirach was appointed by Hitler as the first
Reichsjugendführer (Reich Youth Leader). All youth organizations were brought under Schirach's control.