Hitler’s Boy Soldiers - The Hitlerjugend Story
Rare Photographs from Wartime Archives
Images of War Series
By Hans Seidler
Pen and Sword (www.pen-and-sword.co.uk )
RRP GBP £12.99
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The Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend – HJ) was created in 1922 and it comprised of male youths aged 14 to 18. At December 1936 its membership numbered 5 million and during the Second World War its membership took on gradually more and more fighting roles.
The role of the HJ changed from helping postal, train and fire services to being frontline divisions. Indeed the Waffen SS recruited large numbers of HJ and created the 12th SS Panzer-Division “Hitlerjugend”. This formation developed a reputation for being outstanding combat soldiers but also highly ruthless.
Towards the end of the war when the inevitable defeat of Nazi Germany was obvious the units comprised of HJ and ex-HJ members fought with disturbing bravery on both Western and Eastern fronts. Even after the eventual defeat fanatical elements conducted guerrilla actions in the Bavarian and Austrian mountains.
The volume uses unseen contemporary images to illustrate the history of the HJ. The book starts with the training that the HJ undertook and how this corps was moulded in preparation of a war. Then it deals with the recruitment of HJ to the Waffen SS and how the “Baby Division” performed in its initial battles. Then the final battles for the Reich are described and illustrated. It concludes with two appendices on the Order of Battle of the 12th SS Panzer Division “Hitlerjugend” and data on the 12th Army in April 1945.
Overall the book is lavishly illustrated and it gives a very good account of the HJ from conception to dissolution. Although it is highly pictographic it has a supporting text that is as outstanding as the pictures themselves. If you are seeking an “introductory” text on the history of the HJ then there is no need to look any further as you have just found it.