The 1935 documentary, Triumph of the Will, by Leni Riefenstahl, portrays powerful propaganda images of the Nazi regime. It focuses in on speeches made by both high-ranking Nazi officers and Hitler himself. In between every scene change are minutes of marching and rejoicing in the German nation. The film encompasses many facets of Nazi ideology.
In one scene in particular, we see the mobilization of the children in the Nazi youth. There is a seemingly endless sea of kids, both boys and girls, in uniform listening to the Fuhrer speak. What Hitler was preaching was national unity, and the youth were the “vessels” for this: “We want to be a united nation, and you, my youth, are to become this nation. In the future, we do not wish to see classes and cliques, and you must not allow them to develop among you. One day, we want to see one nation” (Hitler). Hitler, in essence, was influencing the youth to make Germany the nation he wanted it to be, and to make sure the most important thing to them was the nation itself.
With this, were these youth told by their parents to attend these rallies, or were they drawn to them because of the the “power” Hitler was instilling in them?
It is interesting to me that you chose to characterize this film as a “documentary” considering its status as an archetypal propaganda piece. I am by no means an expert on film, but it is my understanding that the inherent biases of propaganda would make it impossible to classify as a “documentary,” which would denote a relative lack of bias. With regard to your question, I would imagine that a child’s age would play a significant role in their comprehension and opinion of Hitler and the Nazi party. Younger children may have been more willing to accept Nazism if their own opinions of the world had not yet formed, while older children may have been more capable of either consciously endorsing or eschewing Nazism, even if a desire to conform may have prevented them from acting upon those feelings.
I think that large part of the children were both told by their parents, and were also driven by their own personal desire to take part in the rallies. Nazi propaganda was towards children was wide spread. It was incorporated in the education system, in the books they read, in the news, in the radio broadcasts and so on. I think that some of the children were fascinated with the idea of becoming soldiers and fighting for Hitler.