The Wehrpass and the active use of children in Germany’s war

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Every soldier of the German Armed Forces, the Wehrmacht was given a Wehrpass, a military passport, upon joining its ranks. It showed your service record, the places where you had fought, the medals you were awarded, and the promotions you received. What it meant to be a soldier, however, changed completely throughout the war. When […]

Marching in step

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In early 1943, by official decree, 16 and 17-year-old Hitler Youth boys were ordered to serve as auxiliaries in the Luftwaffe, the German air force, where they were tooperate anti-aircraft guns. Known from then on as Flak­helfer (anti-aircraft assistants), they were incorporated in the military command structure, but since they still had to wear Hitler […]

The Poesie-album and the direct efforts to shape the minds of youngsters

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A Poesie­­-album is a little album used by children – mostly girls – to collect inspirational messages, small poems, and verses from friends and family. It was popularised in Germany in the nineteenth century, although the use of these little albums also spread abroad. Being allowed to write in such an album was a sign […]

The Jubelfahne and the limits of the People’s Community

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The Nazis put much time and effort in creating a so-called ‘People’s Community’, a Volksgemeinschaft. To most ordinary Germans this notion was a positive one, as it represented a break with the socio-political divisiveness that had marked the prior years of the Weimar Republic. Yet, few people subscribed to the idea of a Volksgemeinschaft of […]