The Last Muster

On 25 March 1945, the 14-year-olds of Nordhausen and the surroundings were enrolled in the Hitler Youth. The local Nazi propaganda newspaper celebrated the event as the “beginning of a new phase” in the lives of the young people.

The Nordhausen party chapter made an effort to stage the initiation ceremony at the municipal theatre as a grand spectacle. The district Nazi party leader Hans Nentwig, who absconded to the Harz Mountains just a few days later, swore the teenagers into the duties that lay ahead. The ritual closed with a pledge of allegiance as well as a vow of devotion to Hitler.

All over Germany, the Hitler Youth complied with their superiors’ calls for perseverance until the very end. For the young people, the admittance to the Hitler Youth meant participation in the “Total War”. They were the last muster to be sent to battle. Many of them lost their lives as a result. Others helped chase down concentration camp inmate escapees or carry out massacres on the death marches, thus becoming accomplices in the crimes.

(Marvin Keitel)

Source: Südharzer Kurier, 22 March 1945.

Reference: Michael Buddrus, Totale Erziehung für den totalen Krieg: Hitlerjugend und nationalsozialistische Jugendpolitik, Munich 2003.