Cover image for A Hitler youth in Poland : the Nazis' program for evacuating children during World War II
Title:
A Hitler youth in Poland : the Nazis' program for evacuating children during World War II
Author:
Hermand, Jost.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Als Pimpf in Poland. English
Publication Information:
Evanston, Ill. : Northwestern University Press, 1997.
Physical Description:
xxxii, 148 pages ; 22 cm
Language:
English
Personal Subject:
ISBN:
9780810112919

9780810112926
Format :
Book

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DD253.5 .H4613 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

Between 1933 and 1945, more than three million children between the ages of seven and sixteen were taken from their homes and sent to Hitler Youth paramilitary camps to be toughened up and taught how to be obedient Germans. Separated from their families, these children often endured abuse by the adults in charge. This mass phenomenon that affected a whole generation of Germans remains almost undocumented. In this memoir, Jost Hermand, a German cultural critic and historian who spent much of his youth in five different camps, writes about his experiences during this period. Hermand also gives background into the camp's creation and development.


Summary

Jost Hermand's A Hitler Youth in Poland is an invaluable first-hand account of his experience in Nazi education camps for German children, four in Poland. An important addition to the growing record of the childhood experiences of so-called Kriegskinder (children of war) in Germany during the Nazi regime, A Hitler Youth in Poland is a memoir of Germany's Kinderlandverschickung (KLV) program, by which German children were evacuated from large cities to countryside camps designed to toughen and prepare them for future careers in the military.

During the Nazi era, millions of German children between the ages of seven and sixteen were taken from their homes and sent to Hitler Youth paramilitary camps to be toughened up and taught how to be "German." Separated from their families and sent to the far-flung corners of Europe, these children often endured incredible abuse by the adults in charge. In this memoir, Jost Hermand, a cultural critic and historian who spent much of his youth in five different camps, writes about his experiences as a small, unathletic boy thrown into a "wolf pack" governed by brutalization, dreary routine, and sadism.

Intelligent and persuasive, A Hitler Youth in Poland should be read by anyone interested in psychology or the history of everyday life in Hitler's Germany and the mental scars of adults born during the Nazi regime.


Author Notes

Jost Hermand was born in Kassel, Germany, in 1930.  The William F. Vilas Research Professor of German at the University of Wisconsin, he has also taught at Harvard University, the University of Texas, University of Berlin, and six other German universities.  He has written or edited twelve books.  

Margot Bettauer Dembo , an editor with the American Museum of Natural History, is the translator of Armin and Renate Schmid's Lost in a Labyrinth of Red Tape, also published by Northwestern University Press. 


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

From 1933 to 1945, millions of German children (some 2.8 million between 1940 and 1945 alone) were evacuated from big cities to camps and schools in the countryside under a program called the Kinderlandverschickung (KLV). Translated by critics as Kinderlandverschleppung‘"rural child abduction" as opposed to "sending"‘or Kannst langsam verrecken‘"you can slowly croak"‘KLV is an aspect of Nazi education that hasn't been well studied except by its apologists. Hermand, a professor of German at the University of Wisconsin, offers a disturbing memoir of his youth in five KLV camps, four in Poland. The KLV was meant to toughen effete city boys into Nazi soldiers, not to teach them: "Knowledge would only spoil my young people," Hitler had said. "I want a brutal, domineering, fearless, and cruel youth." The routine was one of sports, field maneuvers and marching punctuated by songs like "Red sunrise, red sunrise, you guide my way to early death." As the wolf pack was the Nazi pedagogical model, children were often left to their own devices, with tougher boys physically and sexually torturing the weaker ones. It is essentially Lord of the Flies, and Hermand, who was small with a pronounced stutter, is honest about his role as Piggy. But he doesn't excuse himself: recalling the brutal murder of a pregnant Polish woman by an SS man and the torture of other weak boys, he says, "I don't remember our ever going to the assistance of anyone." It is his unflinching honesty that makes Hermand's slim memoir valuable. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Publisher's Weekly Review

From 1933 to 1945, millions of German children (some 2.8 million between 1940 and 1945 alone) were evacuated from big cities to camps and schools in the countryside under a program called the Kinderlandverschickung (KLV). Translated by critics as Kinderlandverschleppung‘"rural child abduction" as opposed to "sending"‘or Kannst langsam verrecken‘"you can slowly croak"‘KLV is an aspect of Nazi education that hasn't been well studied except by its apologists. Hermand, a professor of German at the University of Wisconsin, offers a disturbing memoir of his youth in five KLV camps, four in Poland. The KLV was meant to toughen effete city boys into Nazi soldiers, not to teach them: "Knowledge would only spoil my young people," Hitler had said. "I want a brutal, domineering, fearless, and cruel youth." The routine was one of sports, field maneuvers and marching punctuated by songs like "Red sunrise, red sunrise, you guide my way to early death." As the wolf pack was the Nazi pedagogical model, children were often left to their own devices, with tougher boys physically and sexually torturing the weaker ones. It is essentially Lord of the Flies, and Hermand, who was small with a pronounced stutter, is honest about his role as Piggy. But he doesn't excuse himself: recalling the brutal murder of a pregnant Polish woman by an SS man and the torture of other weak boys, he says, "I don't remember our ever going to the assistance of anyone." It is his unflinching honesty that makes Hermand's slim memoir valuable. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved