Oral History

Guy Stern describes losing a friend to membership in the Hitler Youth

Guy Stern was born on January 14, 1922, in Hildesheim, Germany, into a Jewish family. As a child, he attended a German school, where he had many non-Jewish friends. 

Beginning in 1933, the Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls had an important role to play in the new Nazi regime. Through these organizations, the Nazi regime planned to indoctrinate young people with Nazi ideology. This was part of the process of Nazifying German society. The aim of this process was to dismantle existing social structures and traditions. The Nazi youth groups were about imposing conformity. Youth throughout Germany wore the same uniforms, sang the same Nazi songs, and participated in similar activities.   

Guy describes how propaganda and membership in the Hitler Youth turned one of these friends from his staunchest defender to his worst enemy. 

Transcript

[I had] Jewish as well as Christian friends, and it seemed before 1933 as if some level of integration had been reached. Christian friends came to my house. I to, I to theirs. We were invited to the same parties together and of course it all came unstuck, and viciously, in 1933.

[interviewer]: Tell us about that.

Uh I’ll give, I think I can best illustrate it by one example. I had known one of my friends in high school even before I got to high school, which starts, of course, started of course even as it does now in Germany at age ten. And uh his name was Heinrich, Heinrich Hennes, and uh he he when the first nasty things happened in the school yard, he be...he uh out of conviction became our stoutest defender. He would, he would, he would ...he would engage in fisticuffs in order to protect us. He was highly intelligent and then the, he was also of course in the Nazi youth organization as everybody in the class was, and uh finally uh he was taken aside more and more by his youth leader, and this youth leader and the propaganda managed to turn him around completely and he became our worst enemy.


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