Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression Volume IV
Document No. 1992-PS

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Lecture by General [Obergebietsfuehrer]
Dr. Hellmuth Stellrecht:

"The Military Education of the German Youth"

From: National Political Course for the Armed Force, from 15-23 January 1937
[National-Politischer Lehrgang der Wehrmacht, vom 15-23. January 1937]
Restricted for the Armed Forces

[Pages 163-166]

All of you know already the words: Pre-military training, youth's physical training or military education [Wehrerziehung].

The first term "pre-military training" means, that the young person prior to his induction into the Army should acquire a certain amount of knowledge; the second term "youth's physical training" means conditioning of the body to a certain degree of physical fitness will be reached. However, we are choosing of the three terms the last one which is "military education". because not only does it mean acquiring a certain amount of knowledge and reaching a certain degree of physical fitness, but what is more important, it will have a decisive influence on the soldier.

One will ask: Why is it that there is such an endless debate going on in Germany today about the term "military education"? Why are attempts being made just at present to define clearly the term "military education" to carry out what is recognized as correct? Is it done for the sole purpose of trying to get the lead over foreign countries? Is it because of reasoning that we did this, or does it go much deeper than is noticeable on the surface?

Gentlemen, I believe that it was not only because of the reasoning of individuals who inspired us that a change in our thinking unnoticeable for many is taking place and becomes visible to all in its effects.

The term "military education" cannot be realized in a vacuum but it is closely connected with the symbol of the German soldier. Just like this symbol changes, the term "military education" also changes. Military education of the youth makes sense only under certain historical conditions. These in turn are closely connected with the ideology of state and society current at the time.

The young Germany found herself again in a soldierly way of life. The great historic development which lasted over a hundred years had finally reached its conclusion and consequently the German people had gained new possibilities. Under Frederic the Great the military and the bourgeoisie (middle class) as different estates [Staende] opposed each other without understanding as hopeless strangers; the reforms, the wars of independence brought about, had united again both terms. However, they could not overcome the bourgeois way of life permanently.

Only within our time was this development concluded since life was again molded into one unit. No more the citizen of the sovereign ruler but each citizen of the New Reich is being born to bear arms. It is not a "cursed obligation" which puts him under military law but his own free will urges him to do it and makes him recognize the necessity of military service not only for one or two years but for a life-time, under a new unified system which begins in the earliest childhood and ends only when he is also unable to do service at home for the well being of all.

Considering all this, it goes without saying that we are talking about the military education of the German youth and carrying it out. It is just as clear before our eyes that Friederich Ludwig Jahn with all his knowledge and the great effort put forward by him did not succeed in carrying it out. But now the time is ripe because the newly gained philosophy of life may be realized. It would only be self deception to believe that this task could be solved from the top only. German youth has been a movement since a generation.

This movement started long before the war as a first proof of its coming great renovation protesting against the bourgeoise.

The Youth Movement before the war was not yet soldierly but it was hard against itself and on long hiking tours it helped to lay the foundation for a real great Germany. The volunteer spirit of the great war would be unthinkable without this youth movement-that volunteer-spirit which is the prerequisite of military duty! Of course, those who only came in order to fulfill their own duty did not spare themselves anything either in the great war. They were no less brave than the volunteers. The only difference was that the volunteer was willing to take responsibility for his fate, injury and death, while the other one felt more secure if the State and the Law were responsible for himself and the family when the misfortune arose.

The voluntary service was contained in the free corps [Freikorps], in the military organizations [Wehrverbaenden], in the organizations of the NSDAP and in the Hitler Youth Movement.

The German youth has formed its own Reich within this youth movement in which it has the right and privilege of its own way of life. In a decree issued by the Fuehrer on 1 December 1936, pertaining to the Hitler Youth Movement this own Reich was approved by him. It might be said that its own way of life gives its own character to German youth but we are lucky in that the philosophy of life of National Socialism has become the philosophy of life of youth and that there are no political differences between the different generations of present day Germany. Only the way of life of German youth has its individual emphasis. This has hardly penetrated the older generations. The way of life could also not be changed by an order from above because it did not grow by order or by accident but through a movement that has grown through the decades. We have to observe the fact that in the youth organization and in other organizations different ways of life confront each other. For instance, the way of life of the Army which is based on the probably oldest tradition which we have. There is no doubt that a boy who changes from one organization to another feels that the different ways of life are different and that he tries to decide for himself if one or the other is the right one. He probably tries to compare youth hostel and barracks, comradeship leader [Kameradschaftsfuehrer] and sergeant, an evening in a youth hostel and military instruction, the comradely "thou" which bound him to all leaders up to the Reichs Youth Leader and the pronounced separation from his superior even the corporal, also, abstinence from nicotine and alcohol and the sudden abolition of this abstinence.

It would, of course, be completely senseless for the individual to start to investigate if this or that way seems right to him. It goes without saying that an army which is to be trained for battle must be handled entirely different from a unit of boys. I believe that there is no organization in Germany which has gathered so much experience through its century old tradition in leading men as the army. Only at a later age one comes to see those things as a result of a deep psychological knowledge which, as a private, as a young sergeant or lieutenant, seemed obscure, or which one carried out without thinking, as and how it has always been done.

It would be just as senseless to argue that the army, as the oldest organization, should demand that the way of life in the youth organization should be patterned after the army's way and that this should be done at once by a system of orders and regulations. That would be completely wrong because the present youth movement is of a natural growth which cannot suddenly be sent by coercion but needs a certain amount of freedom to be able to grow further. And nothing would be more harmful than to substitute a system of orders, which developed under totally different conditions, for the free will of the present young generation. the forty years of German youth history cannot and shall not be erased because what has developed alive out of an idealistic motive shall never be extinguished.

But, from a long range point of view, it is necessary that we do not allow the life of a German boy who has to pass through all the organizations, to go through as many breaking experiences as there are organizations. On the contrary, it is necessary to give to his life and his development actual stability. We do not only want to train our boys and through the difference of the organizations give them the opportunity to compare and to criticize but we want to lead them in an unbroken line of development from boy to man, a development which must be natural to them, which does not give them cause to investigate why they have been dealt with in this or that manner. The political education of the boy stops when he enters the service of the Armed Forces.

We have to admit that the way of life in the youth organization is different from that in the Armed Forces. But our time gives us an opportunity to draw one line of development from the tenth year to the time of discharge from the Armed Forces; that is the line of development of military training and military education. Therefore, it is in general of tremendous educational value and not only for the training of a soldier. The boy should feel that he is part of a natural course of events and react to it by feeling a constant uninhibited enhancement of life.

The young scout grows into the armour-bearer of the nation. Thus the natural course of events is again completed which has been characteristic of every natural warriordom. It always let the boy become a scout first, then gave him practice weapons and only then let him earn the deathly weapon of the man.

All military training must thus be regarded a building of life without friction, following only the laws of life and supported by the one as well as the other organization and nothing to block it. Life itself knows no abrupt fundamental changes from one day to another. One is not a boy one day and a man the next one but every age period has educational and formative significance, which needs to be recognized and utilized.

In case these laws are observed one will, a few decades from now, be incredulous before the achievements which will be made by development of physical potentialities and by technical knowledge and also before the high degree of ideological readiness which is inherent in the German soldier. The recognition of the laws of development will and must give us an incredible advantage over the achievements of other nations, especially in the present which is carried along by the impulse of national uprising. There is no question that even with several years of military training another nation cannot ever make up for that which was neglected in regard to development which we recognized and utilized in time.

But that which will happen in the future in regard to this will not only mean the training to be a German soldier but training to be a German man, the decisive final finish of whom takes place in the service of the Armed Forces. In addition, an extensive exchange of experiences will come about on the broadest possible basis between the armed Forces in the youth Organization on all things so decisive for all future development in order to continue the one education in every respect at the exact point where the other one stopped.

In regard to work with pure military education, this has already been done in years of collaboration and very extensively. The result has been put down in a book written by me which regulates future military education up to the last detail of training and which, on mutual consent, includes a preface by the Reichs minister of war [Reichskriegsminister] and the Reichs Youth Leader [Reichsjugendfuehrer].

The basic idea of this work is to present to the body what fits into the particular state of his development. In doing this one quite naturally avoids to bring up something before hand that belongs into the future training of the Armed Forces and does not fit the boy but only the man. For that reason no boy is given a military weapon, simply because it does not make sense from the point of view of development. But, on the other hand, it makes sense to give him practice guns of smaller caliber. Just as there are military exercises which fit only adult men there are exercises which are better tackled at the age of a boy. Among others, for instance, outdoor training.

The young man of twenty who has become estranged to nature in the city-and two-thirds of the German population today live in cities-will find it very difficult to reestablish contact. Everything has become too foreign to him and he will never again be able to become a bush or woods runner [busch-und Waldlaeufer] whose best friends are nature and terrain.

It is different for the boy. At the age of 12 to 16 or 17 a boy is actually ideal for the terrain. It is exactly the age of wild west romanticism when he thinks only in terms of secret paths, ambush and surprise raids. If at that time nothing brings the boy into the terrain if he only continues the dull way of going to school something ingrown and crooked develops in him which can never again be straightened out. The right time to put him into the terrain has been missed.

The same is true of the training of the senses. I am of the opinion that to the training for seeing even the most insignificant things in nature, for noticing the slightest change in the normal world around us, a very systematic training of the ear should be added. One has to learn again to distinguish from entire noise pictures the single important sound which has something to say. One has to learn direction hearing and distance hearing and one has to train the ear to be constantly on the alert and immediately registers the slightest noise which shows danger. This kind of training belongs entirely to a youthful age. If the right time has been missed it can hardly be made up in later years.

The boy starts to learn while he plays and in more and more systematic training becomes a young scout. He again acquires the incredible agility of primitive men to find cover and camouflage in the terrain, to used every indentation in the ground, every bit of vegetation to close in, to cover long distances without any noise also at night and, at the same time, to see everything, to hear everything and finally to appear out of nowhere before the baffled enemy; thus growing into the future battle technique through his full life of a boy.

I ask you, gentlemen, to think back for a moment and remember Langemarck, the volunteers who, for the idea, offered their lives to the bullets while singing "Deutschland, Deutschland ueber alles". And then think of the youth with the same ideological readiness of a few decades later which does not waste one drop of blood, which in defense and attack evades the enemy, against whom the best weapon becomes useless because it hardly any longer can find its aim. This is a picture of the goal of great education which starts with the playful training of the boy in the terrain and completes itself in the training in the Armed Forces.

If we in Germany used only a fraction of the effort which is used in the school to prepare the boy for that we will certainly get results. because this service has one advantage: It meets the desires of the boy halfway while, thank heavens, sitting on a school bench never does. because the fate of nations will also in the future not be determined by academicians but by politicians and finally by the soldier. Why shouldn't it be possible to give back to German youth what is natural to primitive men? Our nation is healthy. The natural tendency for it still exists. They have not been lost, they are only obscured. First, they have to be forced so that they may grow again.

What a boy between 10 and 14 does in his games, the older boy practices in systematic training. But nowhere is there a place for unnatural drilling, everything shall and must be part of the life of youth. But the effort made by the individual must be increased as he grows older.

We Germans were given a great gift by providence. That is, that we are the only nation who knows how to hike. We are bound to nature not only by the necessity to exploit it but by the talent to understand nature emotionally. We experience nature when we hike because we add our own effort.

We do not wish our youth to goose step in a column, but travel in a small group which must find its own way. The group learns, after it has been taught essentials, to orient itself, to read maps and to judge the terrain. It increases the joy of hiking. if the leader gives definite problems, for instance, to find a certain point visible in the terrain on the map, or, to look up a road on the map and lead the group to it etc., etc.

The trip offers the great opportunity to fit in all that which belongs to the system: description and judgment of terrain; recognition and description the aim; used of terrain, scouting; reporting; securing; and to end up in a terrain game which requires all the boy; initiative.

The trip does not alone train the boy in the terrain but, as I like to call it, to self-help. During the war we found that the truly useful soldiers were not those who had completed their training but those guys who knew what to do in any situation and could take care of themselves when it came to the smallest details. Only the mastery of these thousands of skills makes a completely useful soldier. The idealist reaching for the stars is of little used if he cannot deal with all the unpleasant things which must be overcome. Of what used is the most enthusiastic man if he neglects his footwear and has to stay behind with bad feet. It is a useless comrade who does not know how to set up a tent, to dig a hole for cooking, to make a fire, to dress a wound. The many repulsive tasks in the world of war will soon cause him to stay behind as unfit, or he will remain a constant source of trouble to the sergeant, who will be unable to grasp how anybody could be born with so little common sense.

We have no used for helpless professors but need agile, quick youths who can deal with every situation in life and have learned all that at a time when it was easiest to learn it. This is, to a large extent the purpose of the hiking trip and the camp.

But the hiking trip has still another purpose. It is one of the best means of education at our disposal; because it is the only way in which the boy can get acquainted with his fatherland for which he will have to fight one day. From the perspective of the back alley he can never win it. But he who has not been completely satisfied will still find in sun and rain and in his own effort the meaning of trees and soil, of villages and old towns. He can carry it with him as his true possession and with this possession he ceases to be a proletarian. It is even a prerequisite for the possibility that the new state once again may give him a piece of land. Then again it would have a meaning to the individual.

The systematic development of physical ability for all of us today has become something self-understood. We can hardly grasp the fact that the old state did so little for it with a few hours of gymnastic exercises up to the end of compulsory school and nothing up to the time of military service. And that at a time when the number of men fit for military service in the large cities decreased from year to year. It does not make sense to us to provide physical training only for those who desire it and, therefore, join sports clubs. Because he who does not do that is certainly much more in need of physical training. A definite program for physical training simultaneous with the physical development of the young person is a demand already made by the Fuehrer in his book "Mein Kampf" and which was therefore also demanded and carried out by the new state. The gap between school, labor and army service must finally be closed.

What shall and must be done in particular is clear today and established. The natural is the best. General physical training is the beginning. Then follows athletics. Track comes first, followed by jumping, throwing and pushing. But not everything belongs to athletics but only the simplest: short and long distance running, high and broad jumping, shot put and instead of javelin, club-throwing. For building the body those are the most beneficial exercises which require a minimum of tools and at the same time not too much technique. Among those swimming is one of the exercises which develop the body in general. Why should a boy wait till he is 20 years old to learn how to swim? In the question itself lies the contradiction. Why should the army occupy itself by teaching 70 percent of the recruits how to swim. The boy of ten can learn to swim and should master it long before he becomes a soldier.

Of special value for the development of the body is any fighting sport, especially boxing. Every boy first learns free wrestling and then boxing. There is no sport which educates better to hardiness and fighting spirit.

One could not start it too early but only after the body has almost stopped growing, under no circumstances during the grooming periods. After that it shall be the main part of body training.

[Pages 174-176]

Every boy endures within the proper limits of his strength and resistance. It is the art of the educator not to go further and to go so far that through a new test new hardiness follows and in such a manner that the new test can be on a higher level and increase resistance by not giving beyond its limits.

All that has been learned serves, from a military point of view, nothing but to get close to the enemy and to bring arms into effect. The entire education and training remains without value if it does not lead to the full effect of the weapon against the enemy. All training, therefore culminates in training in shooting. It cannot be emphasized enough and because shooting is a matter of practice one cannot start too early. In the course of years we want to achieve that a gun feels just as natural in the hands of a German boy as a pen. It is a strange state of mind in a nation if, through years many hours every day are spent in practicing penmanship and grammatical writing but not a single hour in practice-shooting. Liberalism put the following slogan above school doors "knowledge is power". We, on the other hand, have found out during the war and postwar period that the power of a nation, in the last analysis, always rests on its arms and on those who know how to handle them.

Shooting meets with the desire of a boy. There is hardly ever a boy who does not experiment with it, if only with a bow and arrow he made himself. Let us put into his hand that which suits him that gives him real pleasure. First a new air rifle with which he can really learn how to shoot and let us teach him how to do it correctly. Later, the older boy gets a small caliber rifle with which all the fine points of shooting can be taught and in the service of the army finally, as the last stage, a weapon.

In such a training course the art of shooting can be developed to a degree which, up to now, seemed not attainable.

In addition to general training there is special training for the new replacement generation in the Air Force, Navy and motorized troops. The training course for this has been established with the competent authorities in the Armed Forces. In addition, there is training in communications on a broad basis and, in the country, cavalry training.

With the law of 1 December 1936 on the Hitler-Youth, the Fuehrer made it possible to extend the principles which, so far, have been applied to the education of the Hitler-Youth to all German Youth. Military education is one of the most important tasks to be fulfilled by the future Hitler-Youth. Besides it, there are the other tasks which are inseparably connected with it. In our opinion it is not possible to divide the thinking of a human being into various sections which then are cultivated by various organizations. But man is an indivisible whole also in regard to education. Military education and philosophical education belong together. The latter is not to exhaust itself in lectures but always through ideological attitude has to draw the conclusion through action.

During the years the boy lives in the youth organization we want to give him the knowledge of that for which he has to fight and be a soldier. The army of the new Reich is not only a community of men who know how to fight according to the laws of military honor, but a community of faith in the mission of the German people and in their own great task. The education of youth has to take care that the knowledge and the principles, according to which the state and the Armed Forces of our time have been organized and which support them, enters so thoroughly into the thoughts of the individual that they never again can be taken away and remain direction-giving principles all through life.

But if faith should be shattered and the idea itself should no longer be firm enough then the German man must have been educated in such a manner that the laws of honor, which alone enable him to live in his community, still hold. And if even those should be shattered, there remains as the last resort the manly discipline, the iron habit to obey silently and to carry out, without a word that service by order of another for which the individual will does not suffice. He who cannot give orders to himself, must get used to obeying the orders of others and to feel the obligation so to do so strongly that even at the most dangerous moment it does not fail. It is a fine thing when a man of 20 learns to obey unconditionally but it is much better when the boy of ten starts to put his own wishes aside, to renounce, to give in, and to serve the will of the community.

Gentlemen, you can see for yourself that the tasks of present German youth education have gone far beyond the "playful". Within the great order of the new Reich they have taken on a new and tremendous significance. In order to be able to solve these problems apart from everything old and inhibiting the Fuehrer has given its own realm to youth. But this problem can only be solved if the large educational organizations of the German people are coordinated in such a way that the life of the German boy constantly increases in physical skill as well as in ideological will. It would be a pleasure to know that I succeeded in showing you the great possibilities and in arousing your interest in the fact that the Armed Forces and the youth together, have to follow one road.

Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression Volume IV
Office of the United States Chief Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality
Washington, DC : United States Government Printing Office, 1946

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