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Photo of Italian Fascist Youth Group Marching in Munich

Avantgardisti
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of William O. McWorkman

In Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, youth organizations indoctrinated young citizens with propaganda in order to build support for these regimes among the younger generation. They also provided teenage boys with military training.1 In this photograph, boys of the Italian youth organization Avanguardisti march through Munich on their way to visit Adolf Hitler in 1932, months before his appointment as German chancellor in January 1933.

Parades and marches by youth brigades—and uniformed paramilitaries—were an important means that fascist parties across Europe used to project strength and unity. In both the Avanguardisti and the Hitler Youth, uniformed marches fostered a sense of group identity and reflected faith in party ideals and values. The black shirts worn by these Italian youths recalled the early fascist movement in Italy, when paramilitary squads called "Black Shirts" terrorized opposing political organizations.2 

Like parades and uniforms, particular spaces and buildings held special symbolism for fascist parties. In the featured photograph, the Avanguardisti march in front of Königsplatz—a square built in the 19th century that Nazi ideologues believed embodied their political principles. The square served as the center of Nazi Party rallies in Munich—the so-called "Capital of the Movement."3

Taken by Hitler's official photographer Heinrich Hoffmann, this image appears both staged and spontaneous. Although the ultimate purpose of the photograph is unknown, it captures the parade of the Avanguardisti in a display that was meaningful to fascist movements' growth and confidence. Pictured in the background, spectators gather, perhaps drawn in by the spectacle of the uniformed march.

Alessio Ponzio, Shaping the New Man: Youth Training Regimes in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2015), 4.

Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi, Fascist Spectacle: The Aesthetics of Power in Mussolini's Italy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 101. Although the "Black Shirts" ceased to exist once Benito Mussolini came to power in 1922, uniforms featuring black shirts endured as a symbol of Italian fascism. 

Daniel Grinceri, Architecture As Cultural and Political Discourse: Case Studies of Conceptual Norms and Aesthetic Practices (New York: Routledge, 2016), 99–103.

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Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of William O. McWorkman
Accession Number 07989
Date Created
1932
Photographer / Creator
Heinrich Hoffmann
Location
Munich, Germany
Still Image Type Photograph
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