Hitlerjugend: An In-Depth History: 1944 - Jahr der "Kriegsfreiwilligen" - Year of war volunteers
by Arvo L. Vercamer

Towards the fall of 1944, as many HJ boys as could be rounded up were drafted into digging anti-tank and defensive trenches in front of German towns to hopefully slow down or stop the advancing Soviet steam roller and to stem the advance of the Allied forces in the west. Hundreds of miles of ditches were frantically dug by HJ members all over the eastern and western fronts.

The last music competition for HJ members took place in 1944. Winners were selected on both individual talent or as a group act. The last "technical competition" also took place in 1944; HJ members were to compete for technical innovations, which could benefit Germany.

In the fall of 1944, Göring proposed to take the entire 1944 class of HJ-Flieger candidates and prepare them for flight certification on jet fighters. Specifically, the HJ were to be trained on how to use the Heinkel He-162 "Salamander-Volksjäger" aircraft. HJ members were trained on the He-162S (Segelflugzeug - Glider) in Trebbin; but no HJ member flew the operational He-162 in combat.

The years of war were beginning to take a serious toll on the German nation. Each year, more and more youths were drafted to serve on one front or another. Many local NSDAP branch leaders began to voice their concerns regarding falling HJ attendances. All too often, a local HJ chapter could not meet as required because all suitable HJ "leaders" were already called to active duty in the military. Gangs of "disillusioned" youths started to question the political leadship of the NSDAP, other gangs of youths took advantage of the military situation by looting or stealing from their neighbors or from bombed sites.

One of these youth groups were the "Edelweiß Piraten". The "Edelweiß Piraten" started out as a harmless group of pranksters, but they slowly began to show more violent tendencies.