|Motto||Blut und Ehre
(“Blood and Honor”)
|Legal status||Defunct, Illegal|
|Leader||Baldur von Schirach, Artur Axmann|
The Hitler Youth (German: Hitlerjugend (help·info), often abbreviated as HJ in German) was the youth organization of the Nazi Party in Germany. Its origins dated back to 1922 in form of predecessor organizations affiliated to the (at the time) Munich-based Nazi Party. From 1933 until 1945, it was the sole official youth organization in Germany and was partially a paramilitary organization; it was constituted of the Hitlerjugend proper for male youth aged 14 to 18, the Deutsches Jungvolk (German Youth) for younger boys, and the League of German Girls.
With the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945, the organization de facto ceased to exist. On 10 October 1945, it was outlawed by the Allied Control Council along with other Nazi Party organizations. Under Section 86 of the German Criminal Code, the Hitler Youth is an “unconstitutional organisation” and the distribution or public use of its symbols, except for educational or research purposes, are not permitted.
In 1922 the Munich-based Nazi Party established its official youth organization called Jugendbund der NSDAP. It was announced on 8 March 1922 in the Völkischer Beobachter, and its inaugural meeting took place on 13 May the same year. Another youth group was established in 1922 as the Jungsturm Adolf Hitler (help·info). Based in Munich, Bavaria, it served to train and recruit future members of the Sturmabteilung (or “Storm Regiment”), the adult paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party.
Following the abortive Beer Hall Putsch (in November 1923) the Nazi youth groups ostensibly disbanded, but many elements simply went underground, operating clandestinely in small units under assumed names. In April 1924 the Jugendbund der NSDAP was renamed Grossdeutsche Jugendbewegung (Greater German Youth Movement). On 4 July 1926 the Grossdeutsche Jugendbewegung was officially renamed Hitler Jugend Bund der deutschen Arbeiterjugend (Hitler Youth League of German Worker Youth). This event took place a year after the Nazi Party itself had been reorganized. The architect of the re-organisation was Kurt Gruber, a law student from Plauen in Saxony.
After a short power-struggle with a rival organization—Gerhard Roßbach‘s Schilljugend—Gruber prevailed and his “Greater German Youth Movement” became the Nazi Party’s official youth organization. In July 1926 it was renamed Hitler-Jugend, Bund deutscher Arbeiterjugend (“Hitler Youth, League of German Worker Youth”) and, for the first time, officially became an integral part of the Sturmabteilung. The name Hitler-Jugend was taken up on the suggestion of Hans Severus Ziegler.
By 1930 the Hitler-Jugend had enlisted over 25,000 boys aged 14 and upwards. It also set up a junior branch, the Deutsches Jungvolk, for boys aged 10 to 14. Girls from 10 to 18 were given their own parallel organisation, the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM), League of German Girls.
In April 1932 Chancellor Heinrich Brüning banned the Hitler Youth movement in an attempt to stop widespread political violence. But in June Brüning’s successor as Chancellor, Franz von Papen, lifted the ban as a way of appeasing Hitler, the rapidly ascending political star. A further significant expansion drive started in 1933, when Baldur von Schirach became the first Reichsjugendführer (Reich Youth Leader), pouring much time and large amounts of money into the project.
The members of the Hitler Youth were viewed as future “Aryan supermen” and were indoctrinated into racism. One aim was to instill the motivation that would enable its members as soldiers, to fight faithfully for the Third Reich. There was more emphasis on physical and military training than on academic study. The Nationalsozialistischer Reichsbund für Leibesübungen (NSRBL), the umbrella organization promoting and coordinating sport activities in Germany during the Nazi era, had the responsibility of overseeing the physical fitness development programs provided to the German youth.
After the boy scout movement was banned through German-controlled countries, the Hitler Youth appropriated many of its activities, though changed in content and intention. For example, many activities closely resembled military training, with weapons training, assault course circuits and basic tactics. Some cruelty by the older boys toward the younger ones was tolerated and even encouraged, since it was believed this would weed out the unfit and harden the rest.
The Hitler Youth was organized into corps under adult leaders, and the general membership comprised boys aged fourteen to eighteen. The organization was also seen as an important stepping stone to future membership of the elite Schutzstaffel (SS). Members of the Hitler Youth were particularly proud to be bestowed with the single Sig Rune (victory symbol) by the SS. The SS utilized two Sig Runes as their mark, and this gesture served to symbolically link the two groups.
The Hitler Youth was organized into local cells on a community level. Such cells had weekly meetings at which various Nazi doctrines were taught by adult leaders. Regional leaders typically organized rallies and field exercises in which several dozen Hitler Youth cells would participate. The largest gathering usually took place annually, at Nuremberg, where members from all over Germany would converge for the annual Nazi Party rally.
The Hitler Youth maintained training academies comparable to preparatory schools, which were designed to nurture future Nazi Party leaders, and only the most devoted members could expect to attend.
The Hitler Youth also maintained several corps designed to develop future officers for the Wehrmacht (Armed forces). The corps offered specialist pre-training for each of the specific arms for which the member was ultimately destined. The Marine Hitler Youth, for example, was the largest such corps and served as a water rescue auxiliary to the Kriegsmarine.
Another branch of the Hitler Youth was the Deutsche Arbeiter Jugend – HJ (German Worker Youth – HY). This organization within the Hitler Youth was a training ground for future labor leaders and technicians. Its symbol was a rising sun with a swastika.
The Hitler Youth regularly issued the Wille und Macht (Will and Power) monthly magazine. This publication was also its official organ and its editor was Baldur von Schirach. Other publications included Die Kameradschaft (Comradeship), which had a girl’s version for the BDM called Mädelschaft, and a yearbook called Jungen eure Welt (Youth your World).
Another program entitled Landjahr Lager (Country Service Camp) was designed to teach specifically chosen girls of the BDM high moral character standards within a rural educational setting.
Flags of the Hitler Youth
||This section may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may only interest a specific audience. (June 2014)|
The basic unit of the Hitler Youth was the Bann (unit of the whole district, consisting of 2,400 to 3,600 members, with 4 Stamm/Stämmen each of 600 members or more), the equivalent of a military regiment. Of these Banne, there were more than 300 spread throughout Germany, each of a strength of about 6,000 youths. Each unit carried a flag of almost identical design, but the individual Bann was identified by its number, displayed in black on a yellow scroll above the eagle’s head. The flags measured 200 by 145 centimetres (79 in × 57 in). The displayed eagle in the center was adopted from the former Imperial State of Prussia. In its talons it grasped a white coloured sword and a black hammer. These symbols were used on the first official flags presented to the delegation of the Hitler Youth at a national rally of the NSDAP in August 1929 in Nürnberg. The sword was said to represent nationalism, whereas the hammer was a symbol of socialism. The poles used with these flags were of bamboo topped by a white metal ball and spear point finial.
The flags carried by the Hitler Youth Gefolgschaft (Escort), the equivalent of a company with a strength of 150 youths, displayed the emblem used on the Hitler Youth armband: a tribar of red over white over red, in the centre of which was a square of white standing on its point containing a black swastika. The Gefolgschafts flag measured 180 by 120 centimetres (71 in × 47 in) with the three horizontal bars each 40 centimetres (16 in) deep. In order to distinguish both the individual Gefolgschaft and the branch of Hitler Youth service to which the unit belonged, each flag displayed a small coloured identification panel in the upper left corner. The patch was in a specific colour according to the branch. For example, there was a light-blue patch, a white Unit number, and a white piping reserved for the Flieger-HJ, or Flying Hitler Youth. The flagpoles were of polished black wood and had a white metal bayonet finial.
The Deutsches Jungvolk was the junior branch of the Hitler Youth, for boys aged 10 to 14. Its flag (Jungbann) generally followed the same style as those of the Hitler Youth. The differences were its flag had an all-black field with a white eagle; the scroll above the eagle’s head was in white with the unit number in black; and the sword, hammer, beak, talons, and left leg of the eagle were in silver-grey colour. The flags eventually measured 165 by 120 centimetres (65 in × 47 in) high. The flagpoles were of black polished wood topped with a white-metal spearhead-shaped finial. It displayed on both sides an eagle bearing on its breast the Hitler Youth diamond.
In contrast, the DJ Fähnlein flag, that of the name of the unit, equivalent to a troop or company, was of a very simple design. It displayed a single runic S in white on an all-black field. The Fähnlein number appeared on a white patch sewn to the cloth in the top left-hand corner. It was piped in silver and had black unit numbers. The size was 160 by 120 centimetres (63 in × 47 in). The flagpoles were of polished black wood with a white metal unsheathed bayonet blade. A Fähnlein however, was not so much the flag, but the name of the DJ unit itself, a term which had been taken over from ancient Landsknecht denominations.
In 1923, the youth organization of the Nazi party had a little over 1,000 members and was limited to Munich. In 1925, when the Nazi Party had been refounded, the membership grew to over 5,000. Five years later, national membership stood at 25,000. By the end of 1932, it was at 107,956. When the Nazis came to power next year, 1933, and the membership of Hitler Youth organisations increased dramatically to 2,300,000 members by the end of that year. Much of these increases came from forcible takeovers of other youth organizations. (The sizable Evangelische Jugend, a Lutheran youth organisation of 600,000 members, was integrated on 18 February 1934). In 1934, a law declared the Hitler Youth to be the only legally permitted youth organization in Germany, and stated that “all of the German youth in the Reich is organised within the Hitler Youth.”
However, how active many members were remains open to speculation. For example, in the class of Hans J. Massaquoi, 100% of the Aryan pupils in his class became Pimpf. However many of his classmates joined because of their parents or teachers or to be like everybody else. After several months many of the children became inactive and almost all left after one or two years.
By December 1936, Hitler Youth membership had reached over five million. That same month, membership became mandatory for Aryans, under the Gesetz über die Hitlerjugend law. By 1938, the Hitler Youth had over 7.7 million members. This legal obligation was reaffirmed in March 1939 with the Jugenddienstpflicht, which conscripted all German youths into the Hitler Youth—even if the parents objected. Those parents who refused to allow their children to join were told that the state would take their children away. Massaquoi claims, though, that the war did not allow the law to go very far. From then on, most of Germany’s teenagers belonged to the Hitler Youth. By 1940, it had eight million members. Later war figures are difficult to calculate, since massive conscription efforts and a general call-up of boys as young as 10 years old meant that virtually every young male in Germany was, in some way, connected to the Hitler Youth. Only about 10 to 20% avoided joining.
There were a few members of the Hitler Youth who privately disagreed with Nazi ideologies. For instance, Hans Scholl, the brother of Sophie Scholl and one of the leading figures of the anti-Nazi resistance movement White Rose (Weiße Rose), was also a member of the Hitler Youth. This fact is emphasised in the film The White Rose which depicts how Scholl was able to resist Nazi Germany’s ideology while being a member of the Nazi party’s youth movement. The 1993 Thomas Carter film Swing Kids also focuses on this topic.
World War II
In 1940, Artur Axmann replaced Schirach as Reichsjugendführer and took over leadership of the Hitler Youth. Axmann began to reform the group into an auxiliary force which could perform war duties. The Hitler Youth became active in German fire brigades and assisted with recovery efforts to German cities affected from Allied bombing. The Hitler Youth also assisted in such organizations as the Reich Postal Service, Deutsche Reichsbahn, fire services, and Reich radio service, and served among anti-aircraft defense crews.
By 1943, Nazi leaders began turning the Hitler Youth into a military reserve to replace manpower which had been depleted due to tremendous military losses. In 1943, the 12th SS-Panzer-Division Hitlerjugend, under the command of SS-Brigadeführer Fritz Witt, was formed. The Division was a fully equipped Waffen-SS panzer division, with the majority of the enlisted cadre being drawn from Hitler Youth boys between the ages of 16 and 18. The division was deployed during the Battle of Normandy against the British and Canadian forces to the north of Caen. During the following months, the division earned itself a reputation for ferocity and fanaticism. When Witt was killed by allied naval gunfire, SS-Brigadeführer Kurt Meyer took over command and became the youngest divisional commander at age 33.
As German casualties escalated with the combination of Operation Bagration and the Lvov-Sandomierz Operation in the east, and Operation Cobra in the west, members of the Hitlerjugend were recruited at ever younger ages. By 1945, the Volkssturm was commonly drafting 12-year-old Hitler Youth members into its ranks. During the Battle of Berlin, Axmann’s Hitler Youth formed a major part of the last line of German defense, and were reportedly among the fiercest fighters. Although the city commander, General Helmuth Weidling, ordered Axmann to disband the Hitler Youth combat formations, in the confusion this order was never carried out. The remnants of the youth brigade took heavy casualties from the advancing Russian forces; only two survived.
Post World War II
The Hitler Youth was disbanded by Allied authorities as part of the denazification process. Some Hitler Youth members were suspected of war crimes but, as they were children, no serious efforts were made to prosecute these claims. While the Hitler Youth was never declared a criminal organization, its adult leadership was considered tainted for corrupting the minds of young Germans. Many adult leaders of the Hitler Youth were put on trial by Allied authorities, and Baldur von Schirach was sentenced to 20 years in prison. However, he was convicted of crimes against humanity for his actions as Gauleiter of Vienna, not his leadership of the Hitler Youth, as Artur Axmann had been as the functioning leader of the Hitler Youth from 1940 onward – Axmann only received a 39 month prison sentence in May 1949, but was not found guilty of war crimes.
German children born in the 1920s and 1930s became adults during the Cold War years. Since membership was compulsory after 1936, it was neither surprising nor uncommon that many senior leaders of both West and East Germany had been members of the Hitler Youth. Little effort was made to blacklist political figures who had been members, since many had little choice in the matter.
Despite this, several notable figures have been “exposed” by the media as former members. These include Stuttgart mayor Manfred Rommel (son of the famous general Erwin Rommel); former foreign minister of Germany Hans-Dietrich Genscher; Pope Benedict XVI; philosopher Jürgen Habermas and the late Prince Consort of the Netherlands Claus von Amsberg.
||This “see also” section may contain an excessive number of suggestions. Please ensure that only the most relevant suggestions are given and that they are not red links, and consider integrating suggestions into the article itself. (June 2014)|
- Adolf Hitler March of German Youth
- Academy for Youth Leadership
- Der Marsch zum Führer
- Der Pimpf
- German Youth Movement
- Glossary of Nazi Germany
- Herbert Norkus
- Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow
- Hitler Youth Knife
- League of German Girls
- Levente Associations
- List of Nazi Party leaders and officials
- Mocidade Portuguesa
- National Socialist German Students’ League
- National Socialist Schoolchildren’s League
- Nationalsozialistischer Reichsbund für Leibesübungen
- Opera Nazionale Balilla – Italian Fascist youth movement
- Hitlerjunge Quex – novel about a Hitler Youth
- Hitlerjunge Quex – 1933 film based on the book
- Komsomol – youth organization in the Soviet Union
- “Vorwärts! Vorwärts! schmettern die hellen Fanfaren” – Hitler Youth song
- “First NSDAP-related organization of German youth.” feldgrau.com. Retrieved: 1 February 2010.
- Ernst Klee, Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Wer war was vor und nach 1945, Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Zweite aktualisierte Auflage, Frankfurt am Main 2005, ISBN 978-3-596-16048-8, p. 694.
- Hakim 1995
- “Hitlerjugend: An In-Depth History.” axishistory.com. Retrieved: 1 February 2010.
- Richard Bonney (15 June 2009). Confronting the Nazi War on Christianity: The Kulturkampf Newsletters, 1936–1939. Peter Lang. pp. 139–. ISBN 978-3-03911-904-2. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
- H. W. Koch (8 August 2000). The Hitler Youth: Origins and Development 1922–1945. Cooper Square Press. pp. 220–. ISBN 978-1-4616-6105-4. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
- “Wille und Macht.” germaniainternational.com. Retrieved: 1 February 2010.
- “Other HJ publications.” germaniainternational.com. Retrieved: 1 February 2010.
- Priepke 1960, pp. 187–189.
- William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (Touchstone Edition) (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990)
- Massaquoi 2001
- “New Pope Defied Nazis As Teen During WWII.” The New York Times. Retrieved: 1 February 2010.
- Butler 1986, p. 172.
- Hamilton, Charles (1984). Leaders & Personalities of the Third Reich, Vol. 1. San Jose, CA: R. James Bender Publishing. p. 248. ISBN 0-912138-27-0.
- Butler, Rupert. Hitler’s Young Tigers: The Chilling True Story of the Hitler Youth. London: Arrow Books, 1986. ISBN 0-09-942450-9.
- Hakim, Joy. A History of Us: War, Peace and all that Jazz. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-19-509514-6.
- Holzträger, Hans. In A Raging Inferno: Combat Units of the Hitler Youth 1944–45. Solihull, UK: Helion & Company, 2005. ISBN 1-874622-60-4.
- Könitzer, Willi Fr. The Hitler Youth as the Carrier of New Values. Berlin: Reichssportverlag, 1938.
- Massaquoi, Hans Jürgen. Destined to Witness: Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany. New York: Harper Perennial, 2001. ISBN 978-0-06-095961-6.
- Priepke, Manfred. Die evangelische Jugend im Dritten Reich 1933–1936 (in German). Frankfurt: Norddeutsche Verlagsanstalt, 1960.
- Sandor, Cynthia. Through Innocent Eyes – The Chosen Girls of the Hitler Youth. Balboa Press, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4525-6308-4.
League of German Girls
The League of German Girls or (cognate) Band of German Maidens (German: Bund Deutscher Mädel, BDM) was the girls’ wing of the Nazi Party youth movement, the Hitler Youth. It was the only female youth organization in Nazi Germany.
At first, the League consisted of two sections: the Jungmädel, or Young Girls’ League, for girls ages 10 to 14, and the League proper for girls ages 14 to 18. In 1938, a third section was introduced, the Faith and Beauty Society (BDM-Werk Glaube und Schönheit), which was voluntary and open to girls between the ages of 17 and 21.
With the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945, the organization de facto ceased to exist. On 10 October 1945, it was outlawed by the Allied Control Council along with other Nazi Party organizations. Under Section 86 of the German Criminal Code, the Hitler Youth is an “unconstitutional organisation” and the distribution or public use its symbols, except for educational or research purposes, are not permitted.
The Bund Deutscher Mädel had its origins as early as the 1920s, in the first Mädchenschaften or Mädchengruppen, also known as Schwesternschaften der Hitler-Jugend (Sisterhood of the Hitler Youth). In 1930 it was founded as the female branch of the Hitler Youth movement. Its full title was Bund Deutscher Mädel in der Hitler-Jugend (League of German Girls in the Hitler Youth). In the final electioneering campaigns of 1932, Hitler inaugurated it with a mass meeting featuring the League; on election eve, the League and Hitler Youth staged “evening of entertainment.” It did not attract a mass following until the Nazis came to power in January 1933.
Soon after taking office as ‘Reichsjugendführer‘ on 17 June 1933, Baldur von Schirach issued regulations that suspended or forbid existing youth organizations (‘concurrence’). Those youth groups were compulsorily integrated into the BDM, which was declared to be the only legally permitted organization for girls in Germany. Many of the existing organizations closed down to avoid this. These Nazi activities were a part of the Gleichschaltung starting in 1933. The Reichskonkordat between the Catholic Church and Nazi Germany, signed on July 20, 1933, gave a certain shelter to the Catholic youth ministry, but they were the object of much bullying.
The “Gesetz über die Hitlerjugend” (law concerning the Hitler Youth) dated 1 December 1936, forced all eligible juveniles to be a member of HJ or BDM. They had to be ethnic Germans, German citizens and free of hereditary diseases. Girls had to be 10 years of age to enter this League.
The BDM was run directly by Schirach until 1934, when Trude Mohr, a former postal worker, was appointed to the position of BDM-Reichsreferentin, or National Speaker of the BDM, reporting directly to Schirach. After Mohr married in 1937, she was required to resign her position (the BDM required members to be unmarried and without children in order to remain in leadership positions), and was succeeded by Dr. Jutta Rüdiger, a doctor of psychology from Düsseldorf, who was a more assertive leader than Mohr but nevertheless a close ally of Schirach, and also of his successor from 1940 as HJ leader, Artur Axmann. She joined Schirach in resisting efforts by the head of the NS-Frauenschaft (Nazi Woman’s League), Gertrud Scholtz-Klink, to gain control of the BDM. Rüdiger led the BDM until its dissolution in 1945.
As in the HJ, separate sections of the BDM existed, according to the age of participants. Girls between the ages of 10 and 14 years old were members of the Young Girl’s League (Jungmädelbund, JM), and girls between the ages of 14 and 18 were members of the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM) proper. In 1938, a third section was added, known as Faith and Beauty (Glaube und Schönheit), which was voluntary and open to girls between 17 and 21 and was intended to groom them for marriage, domestic life, and future career goals. Ideally, girls were to be married and have children once they were of age, but importance was also placed on job training and education.
At the beginning of World War II, the Reichsarbeitsdienst became compulsory also for young women. It lasted half a year. Many young women became ‘Blitzmädel’ (Wehrmachthelferin or female combat soldiers) during World War II.
While these ages are general guidelines, there were exceptions for members holding higher (salaried) leadership positions, starting at the organizational level of “Untergau”. As regards lower (honorary) positions, even members of the JM could apply for them after two years of membership and would then obtain such a position typically at the age of 13. The higher leadership, however, was recruited from members over 18 and was expected to maintain salaried office for no more than 10 years, and to leave the BDM at the age of 30 by the latest. As a general rule, members had to leave when they married and especially when they had children.
The BDM uniform was a full blue skirt, middy blouse and heavy marching shoes.
Our volk need a generation of girls which is healthy in body and mind, sure and decisive, proudly and confidently going forward, one which assumes its place in everyday life with poise and discernment, one free of sentimental and rapturous emotions, and which, for precisely this reason, in sharply defined feminity, would be the comrade of a man, because she does not regard him as some sort of idol but rather as a companion! Such girls will then, by necessity, carry the values of National Socialism into the next generation as the mental bulwark of our people.
Jutta Rüdiger (1910 – 2001) was a special case. She joined the BDM only in 1933, at the age of 23 and after having finished her doctorate in psychology. She obtained honorary positions instantly in 1933 and early 1934, was promoted to her first salaried position (leader of Untergau Ruhr-Lower Rhine) in June 1935 and was appointed Reichsreferentin for the BDM (head of the BDM) in November 1937 (aged 27), succeeding Trude Mohr, who had vacated the position on her marriage, as Nazi policy required. She kept this position even until the German defeat, when she had reached the age of 34.
Clementine zu Castell-Rüdenhausen (b. 1912), a countess and member of the higher Franconian aristocracy, was appointed leader of Gau Unterfranken in 1933, at the age of 21, which also seems to have been the age when she joined the BDM, as no earlier date of membership nor any previous lower positions are recorded in her case. She was appointed head of “Faith and Beauty” in January 1938, a few days before her 26th birthday, and was discharged in September 1939 because of her marriage with Wilhelm “Utz” Utermann in October 1939. She was followed by an Austrian member, Annemarie Kaspar (b. 1917), who had been appointed Untergauführerin at the age of 20 in March 1938 and became head of B&B two weeks before her 22nd birthday. She too married and was discharged in May 1941, to be replaced in June 1941 by Martha Middendorf (b. 1914), who was 27 at the time of her appointment and was discharged already in February 1942, as she too had married. From this time on, Jutta Rüdiger, who was no candidate for marriage but living in lifelong partnership with her comrade Hedy Böhmer, took over to lead the B&B directly, thus holding both leadership positions until 1945.
Training and activities
The BDM used campfire romanticism, summer camps, folklorism, tradition, and sports to indoctrinate girls within the National Socialist belief system, and to train them for their roles in German society: wife, mother, and homemaker. Their Home Evenings revolved around domestic training, but Saturdays involved strenuous outdoor exercise and physical training. The purpose of these activities was to promote good health, which would enable them to serve their people and their country. The “home evenings”—ideally to be conducted in specially built homes—also included world view training, with instruction in history. This instruction would include learning the Horst Wessel song, the Nazi holidays, stories about Hitler Youth martyrs, and facts about their locality and Germans culture and history. Physical education included track and field sports like running and the long jump, gymnastics (e.g. somersaulting and tightrope walking), route-marching, and swimming. The importance of self-sacrifice for Germany was heavily emphasized; a Jewish woman, reflecting on her longing to join the League of German Girls, concluded that it had been the admonishment for self-sacrifice that had drawn her most. The League was particularly regarded as instructing girls to avoid Rassenschande or racial defilement, which was treated with particular importance for young females.
Holiday trips offered by HJ and BDM – i.e. skiing in winter and tent camps in summer – were affordable; children from poor families got subsidies. These offers were popular.
The League encouraged rebellion against parents. Der Giftpilz presented the propaganda of a German girl being ordered to visit a Jewish doctor by her mother; the girl protested on the grounds of what she had learned at BDM meetings, and while at the office, remembered the warnings in time to escape being molested by the doctor. This caused her mother to agree that the BDM had clearly been in the right.
Ilsa McKee noted that the lectures of Hitler Youth and the BDM on the need to produce more children produced several illegitimate children, which neither the mothers nor the possible fathers regarded as problematic. These and other behaviors taught led parents to complain that their authority was being undermined. In 1944, a group of parents complained to the court that the leaders of the League were openly telling their daughters to have illegitimate children. Public opinion attributed a great deal of sexual laxity to the members.
The preparation camps for the Landdienst of girls and boys often lay nearby. 900 of the girls participating in the 1936 Reichsparteitag in Nürnberg came back pregnant. In 1937, a prohibition came out saying that camping was forbidden to the BDM.
Before entering any occupation or advanced studies, the girls, like the boys in Hitler Youth, had to complete a year of land service (“Landfrauenjahr”). Although working on a farm was not the only approved form of service, it was a common one; the aim was to bring young people back from the cities, in the hope that they would then stay “on the land” in service of Nazi blood and soil beliefs. Another form of service was as a domestic work in a family with many children.
The ‘Faith and Beauty’ organizations offered groups where girls could receive further education and training in fields that interested them. Some of the works groups that were available were arts and sculpture, clothing design and sewing, general home economics, and music.
The outbreak of war altered the role of the BDM, though not as radically as it did the role of the boys in the HJ, who were to be fed into the German Wehrmacht (armed forces) or the National Labor Service (Reichsarbeitsdienst, RAD, six months) as soon as they turned 18. The BDM helped the war effort in many ways. Younger girls collected donations of money, as well as goods such as clothing or old newspapers for the Winter Relief and other Nazi charitable organizations. Many groups, particularly BDM choirs and musical groups, visited wounded soldiers at hospitals or sent care packages to the front. Girls knitted socks, grew gardens, and engaged in similar tasks.
The older girls volunteered as nurses’ aides at hospitals, or to help at train stations where wounded soldiers or refugees needed a hand. After 1943, as Allied air attacks on German cities increased, many BDM girls went into paramilitary and military services (“Wehrmachtshelferin“), where they served as Flak Helpers, signals auxiliaries, searchlight operators, and office staff. Unlike male HJs, BDM girls took little part in the actual fighting or operation of weaponry, although some Flak Helferinnen operated anti-aircraft guns.
Many older girls, with Hitler Youth were sent to Poland as part of the Germanisation efforts. These girls, along with Hitler Youth, were first to oversee the eviction of Poles to make room for new settlers and ensure they did not take much from their homes, as furniture and the like were to be left there for the settlers. Their task were then to educate ethnic Germans, either living in Poland or resettled there from the Baltic states, according to German ways. This included instruction in the German language, as many spoke only Polish or Russian. They also had to organize the younger ones into the League. Because many Hitler Youth leaders were drafted into the military, the task of organizing the boys into Hitler Youth also fell heavily on the League. They were also to provide help on the farm and in the household. As the only contact with German authorities, they were often requested to help with the occupation authorities, and they put on various entertainments such as songfests to encourage the down-spirited new settlers. Some members were sent to the colony of Hegewald for such efforts even when they had to receive gas masks and soldier escorts.
By 1944, the drafting of boys resulted in most of the “land service” help with the harvest was performed by girls.
In the last days of the war, some BDM girls, just like some boys of the male Hitler Youth (although not nearly as many), joined with the Volkssturm (the last-ditch defense) in Berlin and other cities in fighting the invading Allied armies, especially the Russians. Officially, this was not sanctioned by the BDM’s leadership which opposed an armed use of its girls even though some BDM leaders had received training in the use of hand-held weapons (about 200 leaders went on a shooting course which was to be used for self-defense purposes). After the war, Dr. Jutta Rüdiger denied that she had approved BDM girls using weapons, and this appears to have been the truth.
Some BDM girls were recruited into the Werwolf groups which were intended to wage guerrilla war in Allied-occupied areas.
- DeMarco, N. (2001) This World This Century: Working with Evidence Collins Educational
- Hitler Youth: Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM)
- H.R. Kedward, Fascism in Western Europe 1900-45, p 65 New York University Press New York 1971
- “Der Jungmädeldienst”, published February 1940, Berlin
- Michael Kater, Hitler Youth, Harvard University Press 2004, chapter 3
- Walter S. Zapotoczny , “Rulers of the World: The Hitler Youth“
- Gisela Miller-Kipp (ed.), “Auch Du gehörst dem Führer”: die Geschichte des Bundes Deutscher Mädel (BDM) in Quellen und Dokumenten, Juventa publ., Weinheim et al. 2001, p. 56f.
- “Education in Nazi Germany”, Lisa Pine. Berg, 2011. ISBN 1-84520-264-3, ISBN 978-1-84520-264-4. p. 121
- “Women in Austria”, Anton Pelinka, Erika Thurner. Transaction Publishers, 1998. ISBN 0-7658-0404-2, ISBN 978-0-7658-0404-4. pp. 20-23
- “Auch Du gehörst dem Führer”: die Geschichte des Bundes Deutscher Mädel (BDM) in Quellen und Dokumenten
- For her and the following see Miller-Kipp (2001), pp. 41 ff.
- Junge Freiheit, 49/99 (in German)
- Guy Nasuti, “The Hitler Youth: An Effective Organization for Total War“
- Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web p 101 ISBN 0-679-77663-X
- Leila J. Rupp, Mobilizing Women for war, p134, ISBN 0-691-04649-2, OCLC 3379930
- “Nazi Worldview Education for Girls“
- Richard Grunberger, The 12-Year Reich, p 278, ISBN 0-03-076435-1
- Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, p 143 ISBN 0-674-01172-4
- “The Jewish Question in Education“
- Klönne: Jugend im Dritten Reich. Munich 1995, p. 128.
- Claudia Koonz, Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family, and Nazi Politics p196 ISBN 0-312-54933-4
- “Inge’s Visit to a Jewish Doctor“
- George Lachmann Mosse, Nazi culture: intellectual, cultural and social life in the Third Reich p 277 ISBN 978-0-299-19304-1
- Richard Grunberger, The 12-Year Reich, p 248-9, ISBN 0-03-076435-1
- Richard Grunberger, The 12-Year Reich, p 280, ISBN 0-03-076435-1
- Michael H. Kater reports in his book Hitler Youth (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., London 2004, ISBN 0-674-01496-0) one case that a pregnant BDM girl named 13 boys as possible fathers
- Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web p 107 ISBN 0-679-77663-X
- Arvo L. Vercamer “HJ-Landdienst“
- Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web p 110-1 ISBN 0-679-77663-X
- Richard Grunberger, The 12-Year Reich, p 237, ISBN 0-03-076435-1
- “Material from “Das deutsche Mädel”
- Arvo L. Vercamer, “Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM)“
- Jay W. Baird, The Mythical World of Nazi War Propaganda, p 123 ISBN 0-8166-0741-9
- Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web p 215 ISBN 0-679-77663-X
- Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web p 217 ISBN 0-679-77663-X
- Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web p 219 ISBN 0-679-77663-X
- Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web p 218 ISBN 0-679-77663-X
- Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web p339, ISBN 0-679-77663-X
- Richard C. Lukas, Did the Children Cry? Hitler’s War against Jewish and Polish Children, 1939-1945. Hippocrene Books, New York, 2001.
- www.verfassungen.de Full text (in German)
- “Growing Up Female in Nazi Germany”-Dagmar Reese, translated by William Templer
- “Nazi Germany: Women’s Rights”
- “The Hitler Youth” – David Littlejohn
- “Ein Leben für die Jugend” – Dr. Jutta Ruediger
- “Deutsche Frauen und Mädchen” – Norbert Westenrieder
- “Brauner Alltag” – Klaus-Joerg Ruhl (1981 / 1991)
- “Alltag im 3. Reich” – Frank Grube & Gerhard Richter (Hoffmann u Campe; 1st edition 1982
- period 1930s/1940s publication of the BDM from http://www.bdmhistory.com digital archives
- “The Shame of Survival: Working Through a Nazi Childhood” – account of Ursula Mahlendorf’s childhood in the LGG
- “They Come From Dachau” nthWORD Magazine Issue #7, August 2010
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