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Reich Ministry of Justice Report on the Emergence of "Youth Cliques and Gangs" and the Struggle against Them (early 1944)

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Combating the gangs

The gang problem prompted the Reich Youth Leadership and the local headquarters of the HJ to initiate major actions against the gangs in cooperation with the Security Police and the judicial authorities. [ . . . ]

As far as the choice of judicial measures is concerned, briefly it must be said that a distinction should be made between leaders, active participants and finally passive followers. In minor cases a warning can be issued or youth custody may be sufficient. But one must avoid condemning a large group of young people to youth custody. This simply strengthens their sense of solidarity and binds the young people even more strongly together.

Consignment to a work re-education camp for a period of up to three months will be an appropriate measure in the case of those young people who have not yet committed a criminal act if there are signs of remorse. In the case of more deeply rooted wildness but without criminal tendencies assignment to borstal will be required. However, it must be emphasized that the leadership of the gangs and the prominent active members can only be educated and prevented from continuing their gang activity by the toughest punishments. Inappropriate mildness is out of place here. In the case of criminal gangs an indeterminate sentence will be an appropriate measure. As a last resort there is consignment to a youth detention center.

Source of English translation: Jeremy Noakes, ed., Nazism, 1919-1945, Vol. 4: The German Home Front in World War II. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1998, pp. 450-55.

Source of original German text: Bundesarchiv Koblenz R 22/1177, Bl. 441-451; printed in Karl Heinz Jahnke and Michael Buddrus, Deutsche Jugend 1933-1945. Eine Dokumentation. Hamburg: VSA Verlag, 1989, pp. 463-68.

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