TRAINING GERMAN YOUTH FOR j NATIONAL SOCIALISM
From Our German Correspondent One of the new laws Which were adopted last week by the German government
makes labour service compulsory for all men and women. In the first place., however, it will be enforced for men only and will not last longer than half a year.• Later the compulsory service will be extended to women and will he brought up to the normal time of one year.. In most cases the labour service year will precede immediately the -military service which lasts another year.
Boys from the big cities will have to spend almost three years of their life in " comradeship camps " and barracks. At the age of fourteen, when leaving the elementary school, they are bound to serve their Landfahr (rural year). On April 24, 1935, 60,000 children were sent for eight months into the Landjahr centres. At the age of 20 labour conscription, and at the age of 21 military conscription, will reach them. Do not think, however, that these three years make up all the time Germans have to pass in the camps and barracks of the Nazi state. At the age of 10, a boy becomes a member of a Hitlerite boys' club (Jungvolk), at the age of 14 of the Hitler Youth, at the age of 18 of a storm troop. All these organizations have their " formation camps," their " schooling camps" and their " leadership camps," the duration of which is generally from two to six weeks!
No Class Conflicts Colonel Hierl, Secretary of State and supreme leader of the labour service, has declared that, " as the army has to protect Germany against any foreign dangers, the labour service, being practical national socialism, is to be a guarantee that our nation shall never again be divided by class conflicts."
The aim of the labour service is formulated in the law as follows: "The labour service of the Reich is to educate German youth in the spirit of national socialism for the community of the people and for a true conception of labour, particularly for a due 'respect of manual work."
For many years the labour service has played an important role in Germany. It is by no means a Hitlerite invention. Already Bruning had given it, by his emere.ncy decree of June 5, 1931, a legal status and a half-official character, although strictly respecting its voluntary character. When the Nazis came to power, they simply took over what private organizations Nationalist, Socialist, Catholic and Protestant youth associations had created.
Self-Help Origin The voluntary labour service had two roots. The first were labour camps organized in post-war times by students who wanted to get nearer the working people and to live together in comradeship and discipline: the second origin lies in the first part of the great depression, when young unemployed, supported by their youth organizations, started self-help groups, taking up pick and shovel to do some work of public utility or to build up agricultural settlements, where they could earn a living themselves.
The Steel Helmets, the Young -German Order, the Socialist Labour Youth, the Catholic Young Men's Association, the Kolping Society, the Catholic Labour Youth and the Protestant youth associations beilt up a remarkable number of labour camps. The labour service had fairly good economic results, but its chief value lay in its educational achievements. Young men and women who had been looking almost hopelessly to the future got back courage and confidence.
.Briining's emergency decree left the labour camps under the responsibility of their private organizations. but supported them financially and set up a system of state supervision. Some of the best achievements had been brought about by Catholic youth organizations. There was, for instance, the Winfriedheim, near Cologne, a whole village of Catholic youth, a colony of unemployed who worked together, transforming woods into cornfields, growing their own food. having their own baker, their own shoemaker, their own chapel, where the altar and the pews had been made by themselves, running a model farm under expert
direction, where unemployed industrial workers were trained as agricultural workers, and doing immense good to thousands of people who passed through it.
Compulsory Service All those private initiatives have been brought to an end by the Nagis, who made of the voluntary labour service a compulsory labour service with the object of educating its members in the national socialist party spirit. Nazi Germany has considerably enlarged and from the technical point of view improved the labour service. But it has also largely changed its character and made it a part of the totalitarian party and military education. The " philosophical " education and training in the labour camps is under the re sponsibilityof Alfred Rosenberg. We need not say what that means from a Christian point of view.
Undoubtedly, the labour service has many good qualities. But it contains also considerable moral dangers which should not be overlooked. Of course, one should not generalize certain facts, because it is evident that, where hundreds of thousands of boys and girls are living away from their ordinary atmosphere in camps and barracks, many deplorable things will happen. In older to prevent such things as much as possible, the leaders must have a high standard of personal morality as well as a good deal of educational and psychological ability.
Nazi Germany has so many " leaders" that obviously they cannot have all those qualities. That explains why in the innumerable labour camps and formation camps of Nazi Germany the moral dangers are by far greater than they were in the former voluntary labour service, where the numbers were smaller and the leaders relatively better qualified.