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Old February 18th, 2013 #10
Mitt Handel
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Mitt Handel
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Here is an excerpt from Lothrop Stoddard's account of Nazi Germany, Into the Darkness:

Hitler Youth activities are _duties_ which must be complied with and with which no one may interfere. In the first years of the Nazi regime I am told that this sudden shift of youthful loyalties provoked frequent domestic conflicts and caused many personal tragedies. Great numbers of non-Nazi parents were recalcitrant at seeing their children placed in an atmosphere which sapped their authority and tended to make boys and girls flout the teachings of their elders. The traditional German family is patriarchal, and many fathers objected to the claims of the Youth Home on personal grounds even when they had no strong objections to the Nazi regime as such. In many cases, this conflict of loyalties went so far that boys and girls denounced their own parents to the authorities for what the children had been taught to consider unpatriotic speech or conduct.

Today, I understand that such extreme conflicts are rare. The Nazi regime broke parental resistance as systematically as it did opposition of every kind; so the most rebellious fathers and mothers have been weeded out by concentration camps or lesser penalties. The average parent now accepts the situation as inevitable, even if he or she does not at heart wholly approve. Indeed, I was told by foreign observers that a large proportion of German parents, including of course all Party members, now assent willingly to an institution which teaches their children good personal habits, promotes their health, and brightens their young lives in many ways.

Far more serious has been the conflict with the churches. Both the Protestant and Roman Catholic confessions possessed strong youth organizations. The Nazi Government, in accordance with its policy of all-round co-ordination, insisted that these confessional groups be merged in the Hitler Youth. This raised a storm of protest from pious church folk, who deemed the Youth Homes, with their absence of denominational teaching, little short of godless, while priests and pastors encouraged and backed the protests of their parishioners. Here, again, very many distressing incidents took place. Protestant opposition has apparently lessened with the years, though a recalcitrant minority still exists. The Roman Church, however, has maintained its traditional objection to membership of its young people in non-Catholic organizations. This is one of the main reasons for the deep-going conflict between the Roman Church and the Nazi State which has existed from the start and which is by no means settled.

The uncompromising Nazi attitude is set forth in the following official statement: "The socialist conception of the Third Reich demands of each individual the unconditional subordination of his individual being to the socialist expression of his people. This socialist existence has one form of expression as far as the youth of Germany is concerned: namely, the Hitler Youth. Every youth association outside the Hitler Youth transgresses against the spirit of the community which is the spirit of the State."

That policy has been carried out by a combination of legal action and official pressure which most Roman Catholic parents have been unable to resist. The result has been the liquidation not only of the Catholic youth organizations but of most of the parochial schools as well. But I was told that a vast deal of suppressed heartburning persists.

The impasse between the government and the church is inherently the most serious in German life today. It cuts very deep, involving as it does a clash between two sharply contrasted ideals. It far transcends ordinary policies. Among extremists in both camps it arouses intense emotion and provokes attitudes which seemingly cannot be reconciled.

Unfortunately I have little to say on this important subject, because I had neither the time nor the opportunity to investigate it properly. To be sure, I have read background literature, but to attempt a discussion of the problem on that alone would not fall within the purpose of this book.