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The Edelweiss Pirates

The Edelweiss Pirates were a German youth organisation which resisted the Nazis and their ideology. Consisting mainly of fourteen to seventeen year olds, who had evaded the Hitler Youth by leaving school at fourteen and were not yet old enough for military conscription, the group emerge as the Hitler Youth were mobilised to serve the state, severely impacting the leisure time, and more importantly, the autonomy of young people in Germany.

They were distinguishable by their dress, which was a take on fashions associated with American Swing mingled with German folk dress, for example, ‘Dressing in lederhosen was a central part of their look as German heritage and resisting its malign was always at the forefront of their minds.’ [Source]

Although a lot of their activity involved petty provocations, they actively defied the restrictions imposed by the government, gathering on street corners in mixed-gender groups, taking camping and hiking trips, and were highly antagonistic towards the Hitler Youth, frequently starting fights with them. As one Nazi official put it in 1941: “Every child knows who the [Edelweiss] Pirates are. They are everywhere; there are more of them than there are Hitler Youth… They beat up the patrols… They never take no for an answer.” During WWII they supported the allies, helped deserters of the German army, distributed allied propaganda, and possibly carried out the assassinations of several Gestapo Officers.

The government responded characteristically, shaving the heads of those they identified as Pirates to shame them, and often sending them to concentration camps and prisons. Thirteen members of a group from Cologne were publicly hanged.  

[Sources: Previous Blog | Edelweiss Pirates]

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