Swing kids

Swing Kids an alternative youth movement in 1930s Germany, nearly before Second World War.

Swing Kids and Hitlers’ Germany

On march 25, 1939, Adolf Hitler signed a law that made it compulsory for all boys between ages of 14 and 18 to join the Hitlerjugend (Hitler youth), and all girls of the same age to join the Bund Deutscher Madel (german Girl’s Federation). Around the same time, an alternative youth movement started in Hamburg and quikly spred across Germany. The Swing Jugend (Swing Kids) were one of a number of loosely organized youth groups or movements that, in their own small ways, opposed the relentless and draconian homogenization that would serve Germany forever. The Swing Kids were mostly middle and upper class (and, it must be stressed, largely apolitical) youths who wore long whips of hair (in direct contravention of the order that men must wear military length hair) and long, often checked English sports jackets, shoes with thick light crepe soles, showy scarves, homburg hats; some even carried umbrellas in imitation of the British foreign secretary at the time, Anthony Eden.

Female Swing Kids
The female Swing Kids, meanwhile, wore long, flowing hair and penciled eyebrows, lipstick and nail polish. Naturally, the Nazis were scandalized by such wanton displays of Hollywood influenced degeneracy, as true German woman had a pure beauty and kept their hair in Heidi braids.

Eve more of an affront to Nazi sensibilities, though, was the Swing Kids’ taste in music: degenerate “Americano nigger kike jungle music” created by African Americans and disseminated by the Jewish dominated media industries. The swing kids would dance in an outrageous fashion (linking arms, jumping up and down, jiterbugging to the point of physical exhaustion, one women often dancing with two man) to the hot sounds of Luis Armstrong and Nat Gonella.

Swing kids clubs

It wasn’t easy for Swing Kids to dance: Not only did the organization of professional musicians under the Nazis, the Reichs Music Chamber, trevel around the bars in search of swing music and then alert the Gestapo, but the leader of the SS and chief of police, Heinrich Himmler, issued a police order preventing adolescents from loitering after dark or attending dances after 9p.m. Gatherings of Swing Kids were therefore largely clandestine affairs hastily organized around vacant spot and the availability of a portable gramophone and a connoisseur’s collection of swing records.
They danced in private quarters, clubs, rented halls, and more notably, Café Heinze.

The clash of Swing Kids

On 18 August 1941, in a brutal police operation, over 300 Swingjugend were arrested. The measures against them ranged from cutting their hair and sending them back to school under close monitoring, to the deportation of the leaders to concentration camps.
This mass arrest encouraged the youth to further their political consciousness and opposition to National Socialism. They started to distribute anti-fascist propaganda. In January 1943, Günter Discher, as one of the ringleaders of the Swing Kids, was deported to the youth concentration camp of Moringen.
On 2 January 1942, Heinrich Himmler wrote to Reinhard Heydrich calling on him to clamp down on the ringleaders of the swing movement, recommending a few years in a concentration camp with beatings and forced labor. The crackdown soon followed: clubs were raided, and participants were hauled off to camps.

Vienna and Paris Swing Kids

There were also pockets of Swing kids in Vienna and, especially, in Paris, with its long connection to American jazz musicians and “le jazz hot,” where they were known as Les Zazous.