It seems that the thing to do now is to be “different.” But if everyone is being different then who defines what is different? In the 1930’s in Nazi Occupied some kids did dare to be different, and it was not the cute different that teenagers now aim for. These kids blatantly defied Nazi values. These “weird” kids were called Swing Kids.

Many of these kids in this time in Germany were recruited into joining the Hitler Youth, and the leaders tried to make it appealing for people to join, so they turned to dance. However they did not turn to the popular swing dance that the kids were interested in because the swing dance was associated with blacks and a number of Jewish musicians. Everything these swing kids did was to get at the Nazis, such as wear their hair long and listen to forbidden jazz music. Eventually the Nazis acted out against the swing kids and put some of them in school or sent others to concentration camps.

It is obvious that these kids knew what they were doing and the majority of them knew the repercussions would not be pretty, yet they rebelled anyway. This rebelling is not like what teenagers seem to do today as they gather around and do nothing but complain about current “issues.” This was fighting the norm in Nazi occupied Germany, their lives were in danger. Was the dance so important to these kids or was there and underlying motivation behind the entire movement? If so, why does it seem that teenagers during that time period were much more mature than many seem to be today? The swing kids could not have hoped for much success in their rebelling against the Nazi occupation, so what was their purpose? Did they even have one? Or did they just want to be different?

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  1. Zach Miller

    My grandmother grew up in Nazi Germany and told me of the awful things that occurred. The regime basically had control over everyone and everything. Most folks went along with it or even tried to “find a happy place”. There were some groups who tried to rebel, and failed. The protesters back then, such as the Swing Kids, for the most part knew that they were going to die. However, they were willing to die for what they believed was right if they thought it’d make a difference. As you said, most probably didn’t even think they could make a difference. But my grandmother, and some famous saying, said that the only thing stronger than fear is hope. So, perhaps they were doing it solely for the strength that hope brings us. On the part in which you compared the Swing Kids to present teens, I agree they were much more mature and seemed more organized as well. The kids in the past had a reason to protest. Teens today, at least in America, tend to be different so they can “stick it to the man”, “screw authority”, or just get back at Mommy and Daddy.

  2. I completely agree with both of these statents made here. What we today call being “different” is in comparison to Nazi Germany just insulting. In the past when young people acted against athourity it was to bring a better outcome, or at least to show that they were not going to be involved in the injustices that were going on. Today, however, kids just dont have anything better to do with there time so instead they sit around and try to find ways to make their lives seem so terrible. If they would focus all that wasted energy on helping our sad deteriorating economy full of “evil politicians” and “conservative fathers” then something might actually change! But instead it is much easier to sit around a table smoking american spirits and complaining. Being different today has nothing to do with making a change for the better, but instead more about making yourself look more noble. We have been spoiled with such blessings like a free country to live in where diversity is openly accepted, and by being a Jew you dont get thrown into concentration camps. We just dont know what to do with our time.

  3. It is very interesting to research events in history and dissect their actual meanings. To some people during WWII these swing dances could just be seen as young rebellion. But when closely looked at these dances could be taken into a much bigger picture. Like y’all have said these actions do not compare to the “rebellions” occurring today. I do feel that has something to do with Chelsea’s point: we in America are spoiled. Those who rebel do feel their lives are so difficult. But when looked at closely, America has made freedom of speech, dance, etc. so much more accessible. This is not me saying some lives are very difficult; but Nazi Germany is a completely different story. I also like Zach’s point about hope being stronger than fear. I do feel this is true. The youth needed something to believe in-how else could they go on? I know this is childish but reading this reminded me of the part in the movie “The Hunger Games” when Peeta said he wanted to prove to the capitol that they didn’t own him. I feel this is how many of the youth in Germany felt: they wanted to show the Nazi’s that they couldn’t own them. They still had their dance. They were still independent.

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