|Quoting Flybyguy (Reply 110):|
This decision was clearly an error on the Vatican's part... If there was any reason whatsoever Ratzinger was not to be elected, clearly it would have been due to his questionable past as a 'Hitler Youth'. I figure if Bush were found to be related to a NAZI he would have lost the last last election to a mule (I would have said KKK, but unfortunately, few in America seem to care much for African-Americans).
I´ve stated it already in this forum that about 90% of Germans of Ratzinger´s generation were members of one or another of the Nazi youth organisations. While membership in the Jungvolk (Boys, age 7 to 12), Hitlerjugend (Boys, age 12 to 16), Bund Deutscher Mädchen (Girls, age 7 to 18) and Glaube und Schönheit (Young unmarried women) was not compulsory by law, those who refused had to undergo serious bullying by teachers and class mates in school and outside, also the parents became politically suspect and in the worst case got into serious trouble with the Gestapo, with subsequent arrest in an concentration camp. Other youth organisations, like the Boy Scout movement were forbidden by the Nazis (the Boy Scouts for being too internationalist). Older Hitler Youth members were also conscripted into combat and civil defense duty during the war, e.g. Ratzinger served as an auxilary anti aircraft gunner (Flakhelfer), my former history teacher had to serve first as a bicycle dispatch rider in Berlin during air raids (just being protected by a helmet and gas mask), and later, when the Russians were already in the outskirts of Berlin, got handed a rifle and told to take on the Red Army with a few friends. My teacher lost both eyes due to shrapnel from a Russian tank gun.
Some Hitler Youth members had especially bad luck, when their whole units were simply made a part of the SS
, without the members being asked. These boys had a serious problem after the war, because their pay books suddenly had an SS
stamp in them. The same happened to complete Luftwaffe infantry units, which suddenly got incorporated into the Waffen-SS.
Girls were conscripted to e.g. work in agriculture or hospitals. Some got trained as signallers.
From the age of 17 until military age, at least before the war, every young German had to join the Reichsarbeitsdienst by law, a Nazi organisation, which did building work, like roads or bunkers and other military installations.
So I wouldn´t blame Ratzinger for his membership in the HJ
, which could have happened to anybody of his age.
But I understand that he is a very controversial figure for German Catholics. German catholics have the reputation of being a bit rebelious, and there has been (and still is) a power struggle between a centralist church administration in Rome and the local bishops, who have to work with their church members.