Hitlerjugend: HJ-Flieger

Hitlerjugend: An In-Depth History: HJ-Flieger
by Arvo L. Vercamer

Aviation, especially gliding, had been a very popular activity in Germany after 1918. While Germany was essentially proscribed from further developing her aviation industry to meet military needs; the Versailles Treaty did not mention anything about gliding. Germany took advantage of this situation and strongly encouraged, for both civilian and military purposes, the pursuit of gliding to help hone aviation and piloting skills. Many future Luftwaffe's pilots started out as glider pilots. This training often gave them and edge over many of their opponents in aerial battles.

As mentioned earlier in the texts, shortly after 1933, it did not take long for a number of critican and negative reports to reach the Reichsjugendführung - the Allgemeine HJ was beginning to be seen as "boring" for many rank and file youths. Week after week, it was the same routine for the boys and many were getting tired of repetitions. Hitler and the HJ leadership quickly acknowledged this weakness and elected to broaden the Allgemeine-HJ by offering a greater variety and more specialized activities to all new youth members. One of these was the Flieger-HJ.

By the late 1920's and early 1930's, the German Airsport Association actively recruited young German schoolboys into its ranks. Although the Allgemeine-HJ did offer some exposure to German aviation enthusiasts, it was not a wholly dedicated effort. In 1937, Hitler allowed for the creation of theNationalsozialistisches Flieger Korps (NSFK). The NSFK was open to any 18 year old or older Flieger-HJ member. It was geared primarily towards training senior HJ members in advanced sailplane disciplines as well as exposing them to powered flight (single, then dual engined aircraft). The HJ seized upon this potential and thus created the Flieger-HJ in 1937 shortly after the NSFK was established.

The Flieger-HJ was open to any German youth who professed an interest in aviation matters. Initially, one was to have completed at least two years in the Jungvolk before one could join the Flieger-HJ. After 1941, one could join the Flieger-HJ if one had served for only three months in the Allgemeine HJ. HJ-Flieger members paid slightly higher membership dues in part to offset some of the higher operating expenses of their activities.

Flieger-HJ activities included building model airplanes and learning the basics of aviation. Boys between the ages of 14 to 18 years of age would work hard towards obtaining their "A", "B" or "C" level sailplane certifications. Every year, a Flieger-HJ aviation competition was held in Germany. Here, one could see who built the best model airplanes, whose model airplanes flew the furthest, awards were handed out, etc. In 1936, over 1.500 Flieger-HJ members participated in the event. By 1944, the Flieger-HJ component counted close to 80.000 members.

Naturally, the newly resurrected German Luftwaffe played an important role during the education process of the Flieger-HJ. As the young Flieger-HJ boys were learning and honing their skills, Luftwaffe experts were quietly evaluating the best and the brightest students for future transfer to the new Luftwaffe. To keep the interest levels high, the Luftwaffe sponsored many "open house" visits to Flieger-HJ members and often took them along as "observers" in two-seater fighters and in bombers.

As of 1943, all Flieger-HJ members were subject to service as "Luftwaffenhelfer" in manning German FLAK weaponry. Many portions of Bavaria interpreted this as applying to all Flieger-HJ members, not just those who volunteered. Older Flieger-HJ members manned the various FLAK guns while the younger Flieger-HJ members were relegated to communications duties within their FLAK unit, manning searchlights or being couriers with higher, rear area Luftwaffe FLAK commanders.

In September of 1944, Hitler and Göring ordered the entire 1944 class of Flieger-HJ to be prepared for jet aircraft training. The intent was to prepare the qualifying Flieger-HJ candidates for combat duties with the Luftwaffe in defense of the Reich. They were to fly the Heinkel He 162 "Volksjäger" jets as soon as they came off of the production line in early January of 1945. A HJ-Flieger training facility for jet aircraft certification was in fact established at Trebbin.

Flieger-HJ uniforms were Luftwaffe blue and were piped in sky-blue. In all other respects, Allgemeine-HJ uniform regulations applied. Some HJ-Flieger units were also issued with their own flags or pennants.

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