Youth culture in Nazi Germany formed a vital component of official propaganda. Youth were encouraged to join the two official NSDAP-led youth organizations, the Hitler Youth for boys and the League of German Girls [Bund Deutscher Mädel or BDM] for girls. By 1935 all other youth organizations were outlawed, leaving only the two branches of the Hitler Youth. Eventually, participation in these groups would become mandatory after 1936, but initially, efforts to entice enrollment relied on the rhetoric of belonging to a greater community, the duty to one’s country, and the opportunity for adventure. Membership was restricted to those who could demonstrate their racial purity, and both youth organizations had age restrictions (the BDM was for girls aged 14 to 18; girls aged 10-14 instead entered into the Young Girl’s League [Jungmädelbund or JM]. The HJ had a similar age division, with boys under 14 belonging to German Youngsters in the Hitler Youth [Deutsches Jungvolk in der Hitler Jugend]. In the BDM, girls prepared for marriage and domestic life, while boys in the HJ concentrated on athletics and other activities which prepared them for a coming war. This recruitment poster for the BDM from 1937 declares “You too belong to the Führer,” beside an image of a young “Aryan” girl that reminded all members of the “racial community” to demonstrate loyalty and obedience to the Führer. Similar posters were directed at young boys.

League of German Girls Recruitment Poster (1937)


Source: Poster, 1937. Unknown artist. Publisher: Reichsjugendführung. Bundesarchiv, Plak 003-011-009.