|BDM girls at their local headquarters in the Berlin suburbs.|
The BDM was an integral part of that indoctrination process.
|Julius Streicher, the Party's "racial theorist," approves of this girl's blonde braids. She looks as if she is about to pass out from sheer joy.|
Naturally, not every girl could join. That was just how Hitler's nation operated. Not everybody could join the big club.
They didn't all have to look particularly Aryan. They simply had to, well, believe Aryan thoughts or something like that.
But, of course, many BDM girls looked as Aryan as the posters.
|Carrying the banner at rallies must have been a high honor.|
In this limited sense, the Hitler Youth organization was undeniably successful. It was an inclusive group, with girls from all over Germany. The BDM girls loved the pageantry, even if they weren't all blonde with blue eyes. Though, of course, many were.
|Anyone who thinks that German girls were forced to participate or something of that nature simply has to look at the pictures.|
Society inculcated unwholesome values into wholesome girls and boys who otherwise did the usual things that kids do.
|Why, of course I'd like to contribute to the Swastika drive!|
The BDM girls were portrayed to look sweet and innocent - but that doesn't mean their training was all cookies and candy. In fact, the BDM exercises could be quite exacting.
The government directed an entire generation to support Germany, NSDAP Party goals and Adolf Hitler, not necessarily in that order. Hitler always was at the top of the food chain.
|Imagine being that little girl, the ultimate moment of her life. Then imagine being that little girl 20 years later....|
"Ein Volk ein Reich ein Führer" was the Party catchphrase. In the advertising, though, the "Führer" part always seemed to stick out.
|A typical BDM publication from 1940. This is Ilse Hirsch. Yes, I know, I know, this is one of the most popular pictures on this site.|
The League of German Girls aka Band of German Maidens (Bund Deutscher Mädel, or BDM) was part of the Hitler Youth.
|This was a popular postcard in Germany. Hitler must have loved this shot, she even has the Swastika perfectly turned to the camera That girl seriously is about to swoon, in fact all the girls can't believe their good fortune.|
When people think of the Hitler Youth they usually think of fanatical young boys. However, it was an umbrella organization for both boys and girls.
|Hitler was very "hands on" with the girls. While that may seem creepy today, it was a common way to show normal affection to kids during the time.|
The full name of the BDM, in fact, was Bund Deutscher Mädel in der Hitler-Jugend (League of German Girls within the Hitler Youth).
BDM girls were just like girls of any other time. They liked to have fun and so forth together. It was not a grim organization at all aside from its association with the Party.
|The BDM girls did the usual things that you do in summer camp.|
The BDM originated in the late 1920s and at first was called the Sisterhood of the Hitler Youth (Mädchenschaften or Mädchengruppen, aka Schwesternschaften der Hitler-Jugend).
|Hitler posing with a BDM girl at the Berghof, apparently in the mid-30s. Notice how they always get that Swastika into the shots they choose for distribution "accidentally."|
This changed to the BDM name when Hitler assumed power in January 1933 and Party organizations became state institutions.
|Having the children innocently holding flowers in pastoral settings was a recurring motif in Hitler Youth/BDM propaganda shots.|
Baldur von Schirach, who can be (without any irony, please) called the "Father of the Hitler Youth," took office as 'Reichsjugendführer' on 17 June 1933.
|Baldur von Schirach addresses BDM girls. Among other things, note how perfect their posture is, every row, all the girls sitting as if at attention.|
Von Schirach made the BDM the only legal girl's organization permitted in Germany aside from some Catholic organizations. It basically did everything that a girl's organization could do aside from religious teachings.
They had regular "sports days" where the girls would get together and perform team exercises. It was good exercise, promoted teamwork, and made for awesome propaganda shots.
Propaganda was careful to make the youth organizations look like tremendous fun.
Joining the BDM was not compulsory, but it was "the thing to do." If you didn't join, there was something "different" about you.
|While braids were popular, many of the girls preferred a more severe hairstyle as they grew older.|
Leadership positions in the BDM were restricted to unmarried and childless women. Trude Mohr, a former postal worker, was appointed as the first BDM-Reichsreferentin, or National Speaker of the BDM. She left in 1938 when she had a child. The Germans were very firm about rules.
|BDM girls (colorized, Ang, Federal Archive).|
There were different sections of the BDM:
- Girls between the ages of 10 and 14 years old were members of the Young Girl's League (Jungmädelbund, JM);
- Girls between the ages of 14 and 18 were members of the 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.
|Apparently, for formal shots the girls would have their ties and collars buttoned up, but in casual poses, it was okay to have them opened.|
The "dress" BDM uniform was a full blue skirt, middy blouse and heavy marching shoes. Exercise clothes that had the appearance of uniforms were used for many activities.
|Members of the Reichsarbeitsdienst, or Reich Labor Service. This was a natural outgrowth of the BDM for slightly older ladies.|
The Reichsarbeitsdienst, or Reich Labor Service, became compulsory also for young women during the war. It was a strict service, and there were close inspections. Many young women became 'Blitzmädel' (Wehrmachthelferin or female combat soldiers) during World War II.
|With this one, I think they just should have gone with the original photo, she's very photogenic. The artist made her face fatter for some reason and turned her body slightly toward the camera. Why? Who knows.|
That was not too common, but not that exceptional, either. Women fought when times became desperate. However, that was not really encouraged.
More typically, though, BDM girls served as auxiliaries for the Wehrmacht or performed labor duties behind the front.
|Ilse Hirsch was a leader within the BDM (a Captain) and joined the Werwolf organization, participating in Operation Carnival.|
As the war years passed and boys assumed official duties within the Wehrmacht, the BDM girls took over many of their former duties. This included helping with the harvest. There indeed were some BDM girls who carried a weapon and fought, Germany needed everyone. Toward the end of the war, some girls even joined the embryonic Werwolf underground terrorist group that performed some clandestine missions before the end of the war (and perhaps after). Girls proved that they could be as fanatical as boys - and the boys in the Hitler Youth SS Division were quite fanatical.
The BDM terminated with the end of the war. The Allied Control Council officially outlawed it along with all other Party organizations with the Kontrollratsgesetz Nr. 2 of 10 October 1945.
|A Blitzmädel captured by the Allies, wearing the characteristic tag for prisoners. She's lucky the Soviets didn't get her. "All of our dreams are over."|
Below are some random photos of BDM girls going about normal tasks. One of the perks of being in the organization was being eligible for vacations on the Baltic, either on cruise ships specially built for that purpose (such as the ill-fated MV Wilhelm Gustloff), or in resorts built along the beaches. Some of those buildings still stand and, long abandoned, are being re-purposed for resorts and the like - which was their original purpose.
|German Liner Wilhelm Gustloff. It was the first purpose-built cruise liner, designed by the "Strength through Joy" organization for Baltic cruises for German civilians such as the BDM girls, factory works and the like. Going on the Wilhelm Gustloff for a cruise would have been a huge reward for "good" BDM girls. During the war, it was converted into a barracks ship, then used for refugee transportation. The Gustloff was sunk by a Soviet submarine on 30 January 1945, resulting in the greatest maritime loss of life in history. (Augst, July 1940, Federal Archive).|