Cambridge Scouts and the Hitler Youth

Cambridge District Scout Archive

At least three interactions between the Hitler Youth and Cambridge Scouts have been recorded. None were planned.

In 1934/35, with the rise of the National Socialist Party, nearly all of the many Scout organizations in Germany were forced to join the Hitler Youth.  The following, by date, come from Cambridge Scout Archives.

1936    60th Cambridge         

A trip by the Leys school in April 1936 to a Naumburg school saw a swearing in of the Hitler Youth Movement.  At a return trip to Cambridge the German party raided Leys dormitory – the Leys boys were woken having had their beds overturned.

This was not explicitly nor uniquely a Hitler Youth exploit. These bed turning antics were a legacy of the days when the German school had been a cadet school when school ‘companies’ went to war against each other in this way.  This episode initiated discussions within the school about democracy within Germany.

1937 District Gathering

A report of a District gathering at the Leys School in 1937.   Mr. Bennett was Rev J Gordon Bennett, a Scouter and old Leys student from India.

1938    60th Cambridge

In 1938 Reg Ayres SM took a Scout trip to the Rhineland staying in Youth Hostels.  Here they met with twenty members of the Hitler Youth from the Ruhr also staying at the Hostel and spent three days interacting with them.   This was a coincidental meeting. ‘They had never met English people before…’.  This meeting was not confrontational.

Leys scouts in Germany
Reg Ayres, SM with a collection of young Hitler Youth
From The Leys Archive
From The Leys Archive

1938    12th Cambridge

Cambridgeshire Collection

This last photo has been described as one of mutual interest but no interaction.  It was not a planned meeting but rather two uniformed groups passing in the street.  Unlike similar chance meeting with another uniformed group in Cambridge, such as the Boys Brigade, no one knew the rules of engagement, even if they could communicate.

Shortly after this date refugees from Austria and Germany were making their way to Cambridge.  Some of these were Scouts and joined the 23rd Rover Crew or joined Scouting as did Fred Krebs in the 13th.   Four German refugees ‘were welcomed into the Crew’ of the 60th Leys school.   See also Local History/ WW1 WW2/ Refugees and Evacuees.

Scouting resumed in the post war West Germany in 1945.


The Rev V K C Logan, ex member of the Cambridge University Rovers (c 1933), while a Chaplain in the Forces, had been commissioned by Lord Somers to ‘find out how Scouting was rising as the war receded, and where possible to render assistance and encouragement.’ From Scouting Around the World 1959 J S Wilson. He represented the Scouting movement in discussions about ways to form links in the British Zone of Germany.

Col Freddie Spencer Chapman, DSO & Bar, ex member of the Cambridge University Rovers, was made Land Commissioner Schleswig Holstein in the period immediately after WW2.

JWR Archivist Mar 2020