Hitlerjugend: An In-Depth History: Relations with the German Catholic and Lutheran Church
by Arvo L. Vercamer

On August 2nd, 1933, von Schirach issued a decree, which stated that no HJ member could belong to both the HJ and a religious (Catholic or Lutheran) youth movement. This brought him into direct confrontation with two very powerful entities; and a confrontation Hitler preferred to aviod for the moment.

The German Lutheran Church protested von Schirach's edict. Although many discussions were held between high ranking German Lutheran Church officials and the HJ leadership; in the end, the German Lutheran Church had to relinquish many of its youth groups to the HJ.

On December 19th, 1933, von Schirach and Lutheran-Evangelical Reichsbischof Ludwig Müller reached an agreement. Key points stated that individual Lutheran-Evangelical youths under 18 years of age will be amalgamated into the HJ. If an individual elects not to join the HJ, he can also not join the Lutheran Church's youth groups. Practicing Lutheran youths could attend Lutheran church services twice a month. Only HJ uniforms will be worn by Lutheran youth group members.

While some semblance of "independence" was maintained, in practicality, German Lutheran youth groups ceased to exist.

The political differences with the Catholic Church took longer to iron out. A prime reason for this is because for Catholics, the Pope in Rome is the head of the worldwide Catholic faith and in part because German politics and the Catholic faith have had a much longer and more turbulent history.

Since the late 1800's, Rome had wanted to sign a "Concordat" with Germany; i.e. German states; for a long time. For a myriad of reasons, Germany never approached Rome's feelers on this issue. Initially, Hitler was against signing any concordiat with Rome. But Hitler also realized that he could not politically afford to alienate the Pope Pius XII in Rome and Germany's Catholics.

On July 1st, 1933, von Schirach moved. He ordered the seizure of a number of Catholic youth movement activity centers and issued a number of cease-and-desist decrees to local Catholic youth centers.

The German Ministry of Internal Affairs was also acutely aware of the international implications if the NSDAP were to more aggressively and formally challange the Catholic Church in Germany and in Europe. Although the Ministry of Internal Affairs could not stop von Schirach from continuing with his rhetorical stance on the Catholic and Lutheran youth movements; on July 8th, 1933, they called him into their offices and ordered him to stop any further persecution of Catholic youth institutions. Hitler quietly acquiesced and with that, von Schirach and the HJ had to leave the Catholic youth groups relatively intact.

On July 20th, 1933, a concordiat was signed by Hitler's Germany in the Vatican. It brought some forms of temporary protection to many Catholic institutions in Germany, including the youth movements of the Catholic Church.

From 1933 to 1939, in a more public view, the Catholic youth movements were more or less left alone by the HJ. However, covertly, the HJ did continue to pressure the Catholic youth groups to officially join the HJ movement. After 1939, the HJ became more aggressive and slowly forced the Catholic youths to merge with the HJ.