How expensive were the official HJ/BDM uniforms?

Sep 7, 2014
Thanks Received
I'm trying to figure out how wealthy a family would need to be to have purchased the official HJ/BDM uniforms.

From what I've been reading, the official uniforms were expensive compared to regular children's clothing. Since the families had to pay for their children's uniforms, I think that only wealthy or upper middle class families could afford to outfit their children with the official uniforms. Everyone else would have had to cobble together their childrens' uniforms from whatever they could afford or had on hand.

Am I correct?

I'm also thinking that the families would have had to pay for attendance, so that attending HJ/BDM activities would have been out of the range for poor families.
Thanks, Holzwurm! Does anyone have a price list of "regular" children's clothing as a comparison?
Hi Alphax,

I have the 1939 RZM pricelist but can't find a catalogue of civilian kids' clothing (with pricelist) from around the same period in order to make a direct price comparison.

In the very early days, a range of unauthorised clothing that was similar to the official HJ uniform was worn by some and often enough, armbands, flags, pennants etc were home-made. This type of thing saved money but led to a lack of uniformity. This was combated by the introduction of standardisation and RZM control in the early 1930s. As you say, the parents had to pay for their childrens' uniforms and some were unable to pay the full price but clearly, it was in the state interest to ensure that everyone had the facility to obtain a uniform and indeed, steps were taken to enable this. One measure that existed was the authorised manufacture of regulation uniforms by women and girls in the NSF, NSV and the BDM. These uniform items were made and distributed to poor families free of charge (often during the annual WHW). I have also read of a state-run effort whereby poorer families could "rent" uniforms through the payment of a small deposit. A further measure was the authorisation to wear certain parts of the Hitler Youth uniform as civilian clothing. This would have cut the overall cost of clothing the children and would therefore have been of assistance to poorer families in coping with the financial burden.

Clearly, older uniforms would become available as boys and girls grew in size and of course when they eventually left the Hitler Youth and a regulation I have here shows that the redistribution of such uniforms through sale or donation had a high priority.

As the war progressed, a lack of available raw materials resulted in a general unavailability of new and replacement DJ and JM uniforms. Many RZM outlets simply sold out and there were no replacements. This is noted in a June 1941 order which also stated that production efforts were to be concentrated on the uniforms of the HJ and BDM only. As a result of this order, it was not permitted to exclude children from joining, or taking part in the activities of, the JM and DJ simply because they didn't own a uniform.
I do agree with Garry. You might compare it with todays Boy Scout uniforms. Let me tell you of my own experiences. The official stuff is not cheap. On the other hand you get to buy high quality at a price that is not made up for profit. The costs have to be covered, but the organisation is checking to keep the stuff affordable. Smaller shirts are easier to find at fair prices second hand, grown up sizes are rarer (as second hand items) but can be worn for a longer time, since you do not grow that much any more. To be part of the group the shirt and scarf are the most important items. And these are affordable to lower middle class families for sure. Official shorts, trousers and winter uniform items are expensive and not easily found second hand in larger sizes. But on the other hand the material is so good that it can be used for decades ( I still have my blue Winter Bluse and my 18-year old son wears it in winter, it was bought in the late 1980s). I have never bought any pullover or sweat shirt since, and I remember wearing it to university on a regular bases in winter. The quality is still very good with most products at the German Boy Scouts.
In the 1930s and 1940s it was not uncommon to wear the HJ uniform to school. You did not change or wash a shirt every day you have to know. Those years were different. So it was not at all that expensive after the year 1933 when used items showed up frequently.
If your family had the money, could you buy higher quality tailored items? Did the uniforms and hats all have RZM tags then? All these dealers in America are convinced that if they are not RZM marked they are private purchase. UGH.
Seems they think HJ uniforms were issued not bought by the family. They won't listen.

Sometimes photos show boys and girls wearing non-standard items of clothing. Indeed, we have examples of that on the forum but this kind of thing is more likely to have happened pre-1934 when the RZM had not yet fully exerted its influence and quite possibly in the last year or so of the war. Collectors today would be wise to avoid items that are non-standard unless they have strong provenance.

To your point on tailoring and "private purchase": items of clothing could be tailored for a better fit but they still had to be the RZM item, not some privately bought item that looked similar. It was permitted to have uniforms tailor-made but this was only allowed to be carried out by a tailor who held the appropriate RZM licence. Any items that did not meet this requirement (and there clearly were some otherwise there would have been no need to issue an instruction) were confiscated and destroyed whenever found. Where possible, an illegal uniform item could be amended to match the RZM product but this was strictly controlled. I would not imagine anyone other than higher leaders having uniforms tailor-made and indeed, this practice is only mentioned in the section of orders dealing with the uniforms of the higher leaders.

Now, the question I would have is whether these RZM-authorised tailors had to sew in an RZM label once the item was finished. I would imagine that they did but if someone could confirm that I'd be grateful. Certainly, an RZM-authorised tailor would have used RZM-authorised cloth and this was sometimes marked with a stamp that was visible on the inside of finished clothing. Examples of such cloth markings would be "SS-Trikot" on leader breeches or "Skitrikot" and "RZM" on HJ/DJ winter trousers. If we assume that the tailors with an RZM licence used RZM materials and that they sewed RZM labels into finished items then we must view non-RZM uniform items encountered today with suspicion. To say that anything without an RZM label is "private purchase" is to open up all sorts of crap as being authentic. Perhaps that's why some dealers like that term.

On your point about "issued" as opposed to "bought", some agencies like the KLV, AHS, leadership schools held stocks of clothing that could be issued to members of the Hitler Youth engaged in activities with them. However, these would have been the official RZM items. As you say, uniforms were bought by the individual member in RZM stores or, for certain items, ordered through the RJF
I have often heard that many NSDAP (Politische Leiter) uniforms were privately made and therefore without an RZM label (but we often find RZM stamps on the fabric) but this is perhaps specific to this formation only