"Make Way, You Old Ones!"
In 1992 a former Hitler Youth or Hitler-Junge, now a respected historian, sat down to reflect upon his childhood and early adolescence in Nazi Germany. Hermann Graml, who was born in 1928, concluded that there were many aspects of his life as a member of the Hitler Youth (HJ) that had appealed to him. Most important was that he, along with his friends, was "wooed and flattered beyond limits" by the powerful political system of the Third Reich, and thus he was proud to be a part of the largest ever youth organization that it had created. He was attracted by the spiritual and national hymns they sang and by the cult-like activities that initiated young people into the movement, such as swearing an oath of fealty to Adolf Hitler, the supreme leader. In the struggle for ultimate authority over the children that sometimes took place among the church, schools, parents, and Hitler Youth, Graml and his friends enjoyed being the center of attention and the object of adult desires. However, they tended to side with the Hitler Youth more often than not because it seemed to be "more modern" and forwardlooking than any of the other institutions. Indeed, they found that the Nazi regime appeared to be more supportive of youth in terms of granting autonomy from parents and allowing liberal relations with girls of their age. Unlike family, church, and school, the HJ was not weighed down by tradition and taboos and seemed to offer an exciting opportunity for young people to be respected and responsible.