Ten pound says that yesterday, at some point, some idiot looked smugly in your direction (as though they were the only people with enough guts and education to do it) and said: “So, today it’s Hitler’s birthday…”. That’s the intro to the most boring conversation you will ever have. Sigh. Everybody knows everything about Hitler, and we can probably all agree he wasn’t the main benefactor of the 20th century. But there are some idiots out there who think he was, and who think he still is now, and they're running neo-Nazi adventure camps for kids. Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble recently banned Heimattreue Deutsche Jugend (for non-Sausage-eaters that translates to Patriotic German Youth), and once again pictures of dishcloths with Nazi runes are all over the German newspapers. Everyone is like, “OMG, I can’t believe they made neo-Nazi summer camps for kids!" and then, "Well, thanks to Mr. Schäuble this is over now.” But the truth is that HDJ has seen this coming for a while now, and it’s just a matter of when, where, and how they'll erect new structures to ensure the Nazi ideologies are passed on to the next generation. Or to be more precise, how long it’s going to take until they’re discovered and banned again.
The HDJ's been running organized summer camps for a decade. Divided into boys (who wore long-sleeved gray shirts and uniform jackets) and girls (blouses and long skirts), the camp forced participation in activities tailored to traditional roles in Nazitopia. That means girls baked cookies and practiced their handicraft and folk dance skills while boys underwent special trainings to “boost their confidence in case of confrontation with left wing extremists or authorities,” completed endurance tests such as the 150-kilometer Edelweiss March, and many different knife competitions.
Fine, what’s the big deal about a bunch of kids baking treats and playing tough guy, aside from the obvious lack of summer camps of any kind in German mainstream culture? Well, HDJ didn’t just consist of the kids aged 7 to 25. People above 25 years of age contribute as “FFK” (Freundes und Familienkreis), and there are obvious links to former Nazi movements the government also banned. But these human chancres kept popping back up again. So in case you doubt HDJ has a plan B, C, and most likely D already lined up, let's revisit some of their history.
After WWII’s dust settled down, Wiking Jugend picked up where Hitler Jugend left off and carried on with their Nazi ideologies in the shade of their symbol, the Odal rune. Due to their direct link to Hitler Jugend and NSDAP (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, the party that brought Adolf Hitler to power), the Wiking Jugend was banned in 1994, and with it, the Odal Rune. What seemed like a massive breakthrough in the suppression of Nazism was not that big a blow to their youth outreach, considering the parallel existence of yet another strain of neo-Nazism called Bund Heimattreuer Jugend (or BHJ). See, one more reason why the toothed wheel is a popular neo-Nazi symbol.
Old Nazi heroes became honorary members of the two main factions in the decades after WWII. Once Wiking Jugend was banned, BHJ took over as the most significant youth group. Weirdly enough, even the BHJ couldn't keep their shit together, and internal tension split them in two: the rather moderate Freibund (which decided to ban the Odal Rune to prevent people from thinking they’re related to Wiking Jugend), and Die Heimattreue Jugend (DHJ), which made it a point to keep the Odal Rune and foster neo-Nazi ideologies. Even though they had to give up their symbol, DHJ survived until 1999 and their leaders became the new leaders of HDJ.
Don't worry if you didn't follow that. All you really need to know is that there's a lot of fucking neo-Nazis out there, and though all of them have different ideas on how to be a proper asshole, they all recruit more aggressively than those work-from-home pyramid schemers who lure in lazy fat people.
With a P.O. Box in Plön, north of Hamburg, and their operational headquarters in Berlin, I found out that HDJ published their own magazine called Funkenflug, songbooks, and CDs. Articles in Funkenflug praised icons such as Hanna Reitsch or Hans-Ulrich Rudel and could be ordered trough their homepage, which has been taken down since Schäubles laid down the law about this shit. In a Funkenflug issue I got my hands on just before they took down their site and disappeared into their holes, leader Sebastian Rädiger bragged about displaying search protocols on their walls, making fun of authorities’ spelling errors, “but not of Wolfgang Schäuble and his footmen because after all the guy is handicapped and sitting in a wheelchair.” Rädiger used to play a major role in the Wiking Jugend in Saxonia before Wiking Jugend was banned. See? Proof they're all linked.
So ever since the end of WWII there’s underground Nazi child education going on in Germany—to the extent that entire families are founded on a Neonazi basis. Couples meet within these clubs and groups and send their children to Nazi summer camps and the idea of a family as the “smallest unit of people” and goes on like that. Hello eugenics.
Just in case you’re still uncertain if there’s already a new Hitler Jugend spin-off in the starting blocks, I'm going to map out for you here. Just like Wiking Jugend members never stopped pushing their ideas into the minds of gullible German kids who’re looking for something to hold on to, the members of HDJ will find another way too. After all, according to a survey by the criminological research institute of lower Saxony, more 15-year-old German guys belong to neo-Nazi groups than to all other political and social groups combined.