In an innate desire to avoid confrontation, humans often acquiesce to the illogical reasoning of others, one seemingly small increment at a time. They push uncomfortable, or potentially dangerous, issues down the road in the hope that the altercations, they are trying to avoid, never transpire. The result: undesirable actions are allowed to compound and multiply.
Consider the following quote by Hitler: “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.” Like all collectivist social engineering tyrants, Adolf Hitler succeeded in gaining control of other peoples’ children for his personal political gain. Through the “Hitler Youth” movement his men, B. Shirach and A. Axmann, were tasked with grooming children for the Nazi regime.
By usurping control of a variety of innocuous community groups that already existed in the Weimer Republic, the organization was founded in July 1926, and by 1933 it had grown to encompass an estimated one-hundred thousand children. In 1936 its membership was over five million – all minors, between the ages of ten and eighteen. Originally, enrollment was obtained through social encouragement and peer pressure, but in 1939, membership, and active participation in the group, was made mandatory by government legislation. * In effect, the children had been made “tools” of a sinister apparatus, and even their own parents were denied the agency to object, on threats of reprisal.
“The Hitler Youth were used to break up church youth groups, spy on religious classes and Bible studies, and interfere with church attendance. Education and training programs for the Hitler Youth were designed to undermine the values of the traditional elitist structures of German society along with their privileges.” (1)
Onlookers of history are forgiven for wondering how such things could happen, but yet these types of things have happened many times. In the end, it may be fair to say; that through accepted abeyances, naïve politeness, peer pressure, a fear of social confrontation, or worse, people essentially line up to accept their own loss of rights and freedoms, one small, seemingly innocent, increment at a time.
Having foresight and understanding as to what can happen under centralized control, based on history, is the easy part; but the real work is to recognize oppression as it is happening and having the fortitude to stand up and do something about it – in real time.
* Hans and Sophie Scholl, of “The White Rose” were two of the many reluctant members forced to join the organization.
Hildebrand, Klaus. The Third Reich, London and NY Routledge, 1984.
Bonney, Richard. Confronting the Nazi War on Christianity, Bern: Peter Lang, 2009.
Koch, H.W.. The Hitler Youth: Origins and Development 1922-1945, NY Barnes and Noble, 1996.
Rempel, Gerhard. Hitler’s Children: The Hitler Youth and the SS, Chapel Hill, NC, UNC Press, 1989.
(1) Wikipedia. Hitler Youth – accessed Nov 10, 2021