By Johnny Shumate
The paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party known as the Sturmabteilung established the Hitler Jugend in 1926 for the purpose of indoctrinating German youth into Nazi ideology. In March 1942 the Nazis established military training camps expressly for the older members of the Hitler Jugend. The following year the Wehrmacht and the Waffen SS began taking boys who were 16 to 18 for frontline military duty. These troops were led by young veteran NCOs from the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler panzer division.
The 10,000-strong Hitler Jugend division was officially established on June 24, 1943. The division was attached to the 1st SS Panzer Corps and sent to Normandy under the command of SS-Brigadefuhrer Fritz Witt.
The Hitler Jugend division was ground to a pulp in Normandy. In its first month of fighting, the division lost 60 percent of its strength. Some remnants escaped from the Falaise Gap. In November 1944, the reconstituted division was refitted in Bremen, Germany, for the Wacht an Rein offensive in the Ardennes. Lastly, the division participated in the unsuccessful German attempt in March 1945 to retake the Hungarian oilfields from the Red Army. The division crossed the demarcation line and surrendered to the Americans in May 1945.
What A Hitler Jugend Looked Like
- Helmet: The Stahlhelm, which was crafted from sheets of molybdenum steel in several stages, was issued in 1935 and updated in 1940. It featured holes for ventilation and an adjustable leather liner that ensured it fit well and was comfortable.
- Rifle: The Karabiner 98k was a controlled-feed, bolt-action rifle. Soldiers loaded its internal magazine with a stripper clip containing five 7.92×57mm Mauser cartridges. It featured a turned-down bolt handle designed for rapid operation of the bolt.
- Camouflage: The panzer grenadier wears an M43 SS plane-tree pattern camouflage smock over his field-gray uniform.
- Equipment: Attached to his webbing are ammunition pouches, a Seitengewehr 98 bayonet, an entrenching tool, a bread bag, and a water bottle.
- Boots: The panzer grenadier is wearing the brown leather M44 ankle boot instead of the standard issue German jackboot.
Background: Sd.Kfz 251 Halftrack: A fully armored panzergrenadier company possessed approximately 17 vehicles. Some were outfitted with the 75mm Pak 40, while others had the MG42 as their main armament. Secondary armament consisted of the MG 34 or MG 42. They carried two crewmen and 12 troops.