Saturday, November 13, 2004

Anti-Nazi Youth in Cologne

The Edelweiss Pirates (in English), an anti-Nazi movement from Cologne, is finally gaining recognition from Germans. They were an alternative to the Hitler Youth, establishing a counter-culture youth movement that copied other Jugendbewegung.
Towards the end of World War Two, there were about 3000 Edelweiss Pirates in Cologne and several hundred more in neighboring cities. They developed out of a youth hiking movement called the "Bündische Jugend" which was neither aligned to a political party nor a church but there was no organized structure and several loose groupings of Edelweiss Pirates existed in each suburb of Cologne.

With the rise of the Nazi’s in the thirties, these young people refused to join the Hitler Youth. They were like any other teenagers rebelling against the authorities. However this was a totalitarian state and rebelling could cost you your life.

... According to Dr [Nicola] Wenge the Edelweiss Pirates established their own subculture in the Rhine-Ruhr region by wearing a certain style of clothing, singing their own romantic ballads and later anti-nazi ditties.

Unlike the Nazi youth organizations, girls and boys interacted together and traveled for weekend hiking trips to nearby Konigsforst. "For this reason they were persecuted by the Hitler Youth, the police, the Gestapo and even the Nazi judiciary and branded as criminals, sexual deviants and as threat to the state," says Dr Wenge.

As the allied bombing of Cologne intensified, the city, as well as public order crumbled, and the childish pranks and fisticuffs with the Hitler youth grew more serious. Jean Jülich and his band of friends took to throwing bricks through munitions factories and pouring sugar water into the petrol tanks of cars belonging to Nazis. Other groups derailed train carriages loaded with munitions or distributed leaflets critical of the regime.

In 1944, Jean along with several of his friends were arrested for allegedly being involved with a man called Hans Steinbruck or Bomber Hans who was reportedly plotting to bomb the Gestapo headquarters in Cologne. Jean was fifteen years old and spent four months in a tiny cell at the Brauweiler prison on the outskirts of Cologne. He and the other prisoners were interrogated and tortured by the Gestapo. And then one day, Jean said some of his friends, including Bartholomaeus Schink were taken away. In all, 13 people were hanged early in the morning on the tenth of November 1944.


At 2:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As it comes every year, it is that time in the semester to talk about the Nazis. One nice twist on the traditional telling of "Nazis bad, very very bad" story was a discussion in my Health, Healing and Disease class on how elements of eugenics in Nazi Germany were really the start of a sort of Hippie movement (nudism, vegetarianism, etc.). Of course, it could also just be an excuse to show photos of cute naked girls on the overhead projector too...


At 3:13 PM, Blogger Nathanael said...

NS Germany was not the last place to combine pornography and fascism.

At 6:53 PM, Blogger Metropolis said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 6:55 PM, Blogger Metropolis said...

What do you mean by that, and what does it have to the with the Edelweiss Pirates?

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