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Hitlerjugend: An In-Depth History: Opposition to the HJ and the NS regime
by Arvo L. Vercamer

Needless to say, not everyone welcomed the ascent of Adolf Hitler and the Nationalist Socialists to power in Germany with open arms. The Hitler regime did have its opponents; not just violent political opponents, such as the communists and other radical fringe organizations, but clear-thinking and sober minded Germans from all walks of life. Many Germans correctly saw the abuses of power, which would come. They also saw the road to war and they anticipated that war would lead to Germany's ruin a short while later.

One of the earliest anti-HJ movements was the "Schwarze Front" (the black front) led by Otto Strasser. The "Schwarze Front" was one of the few existing youth groups still operating in 1933. At that time, the "Schwarze Front", along with many other German based youth groups (such as the Young Communists, the Red Boy Scouts, etc.) had agreed on the evening of the Reichstag fire in 1933 to set their differences aside and work together for a new Germany alongside the Hitlerjugend. It was all a ploy as it allowed the HJ and the Gestapo to more optimally identify regime opponents. None of these youth groups lasted long before being forced to cease operating by the new political masters of Germany. Thus, the "Schwarze Front" had to go underground.

For the viewpoint of the German Nationalist Socialists, there were other means, besides intimidation, available to silence the anti-Hitlerjugend youth group activists. Adalbert Probst was one of the many youth leaders of the Catholic Youth organization. He was silenced via a more violent means. Officially, Probst was shot and killed while trying to "flee from arrest"; in reality he was murdered. In 1933, Baldur von Schirach had many other non-Nationalist Socialist youth leaders arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps. Some of the arrested youth leaders were later released, while other jailed youth leaders were outrightly murdered during the June 1934 purge. Many opponents of Hitler's Germany managed to emigrate abroad (mostly to neighboring nations), but this often resulted in them losing their German citizenship in the process. A few years down the road, most were arrested by the Gestapo as Germany conquered one European nation after another.

Although the HJ movement did absorbe many leaders of former youth groups, these individuals were never really trusted to the full extent. They were always under some form of mild or more aggressive surevillance. Their careers were always in jeopardy.

During the early years of the Third Reich, a good percentage of the anti-HJ propaganda material in fact came from Czechoslovakia. Former youth leaders, now no longer able to reside in Germany, established a very potent covert distrubution operation, which smuggled anti-HJ materials, literature, leaflets, etc., into Germany. While their overall impact was negligible, they were enough to merit the attention of German political leaders. In Germany, anti-HJ youth groups had to operate in constant fear. Every day, a new law would be enacted further restricting their activities. HJ-Streifendienst members were often well established in the increasingly illegal anti-HJ youth groups.

But other opposition youth groups continued to exist, albeit in great secrecy. The "Weiße Rose"" group of southern Bavaria was home the most famous anti-HJ and anti-Hitler regime activists; Hans and Sophie Scholl. Hans Scholl, born in 1918, had in fact belonged to the Deutsches Jungvolk back in 1936, where he rose to the rank of Fähnleinsführer. He joined the Wehrmacht and saw service on the eastern front. In 1942, Hans Scholl was allowed to return to Munich so he could continue with his medical studies. Hans Scholl returned to Germany a changed person. He no longer believed in Nationalist Socialist propaganda.

Hans Scholl quickly met up with Christoph Probst and Alexander Schmorell, two other medical students in Munich. Professor Kurt Huber, a university professor, who also did not believe in the Nationalist Socialist regime. Within a short while, they formed the "Weiße Rose" group.

Towards the end of 1942, the "Weiße Rose" group began to operate more earnestly with its anti-Nationalist Socialist resistance activities. Together with many other (trusted) students of similar views, they heckled some public speakers, distributed anti-regime material and painted resistance slogans, such as "Freiheit", "Nieder mit Hitler", etc., on to many walls in and around Munich.

Regretfully, both Hans and Sophie Scholl were caught on 18 February 1943 distributing anti-regime leaflets. They were quickly arrested and their apartment was searched thoroughly. The search in fact revealed the names and identities of many other "Weiße Rose" members; they too were quickly rounded up and arrested. On 22 February 1943, the authorities in Munich held a quick trial; the verdict was that Hans and Sophie Scholl as well as Christoph Probst were guilty as charged. They were to be immediately beheaded. Sophie Scholl died first, then Hans Scholl and finally Christoph Probst. Later, Alexander Schmorell and Professor Kurt Huber were also arrested by the Gestapo. Both were found to be guilty as charged. On 13 August 1943, Huber and Schmorell were executed in the same Munich prison where Ernst Röhm was shot and killed by a watching Adolf Hitler in 1934.

While there were other anti-regime youth groups, which continued to operate after the Scholl affair, their actions were essentially insignificant for the duration of the Second World War.