6
The Responsibility of Youth

In the play The Man Outside Sergeant Beckmann, having returned in tatters from the lost war, tries to find acceptance from the people he encounters in his home town of Hamburg. He has just found his wife in bed with another man. With his unshaven face and haggard look, his gas-mask eye goggles held together by a rubber band, and his shabby Wehrmacht coat, he makes a terrible impression. The young woman who finds him near the Elbe River, where Beckmann has attempted suicide, takes him to her room, but Beckmann has to leave in a hurry when her husband suddenly returns from the front. Next Beckmann visits his former Colonel, a jolly schnapps-drinking fellow who does not even remember him. "What do you want from me?" he asks. "I am returning it to you," says Beckmann. "Returning what?" the Colonel wants to know. Quietly, Beckmann says: "Responsibility. I am returning the responsibility to you." Beckmann reminds the Colonel that near Gorodok on the Russian front, on February 14 in subzero temperatures, the Colonel had given him responsibility for twenty men. This was for reconnaissance purposes, and to take a few prisoners. And then they had moved on and there was shooting in the night. "And when we returned to our position, eleven men were missing. And I had the responsibility. Yes, this is all, Colonel. But now the war is over and I want to get some sleep and I am returning the responsibility, Colonel, I don't want it any more, I am giving it back to you, Colonel."1

-247-

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Hitler Youth
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • 1: [Make Way, You Old Ones!] 1
  • 2: Serving in the Hitler Youth 13
  • 3: German Girls for Matrimony and Motherhood 70
  • 4: Dissidents and Rebels 113
  • 5: Hitler's Youth at War 167
  • 6: The Responsibility of Youth 247
  • Abbreviations 267
  • Notes 271
  • Acknowledgments 347
  • Index 349
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