HJ boys and BDM girls did 8 months service of farms which was called Landjahr.
This was apparently for children who finished school at age 14 as well as older youths. The Landjahr program was only mandatory for university students. There were apparently boarding facilities in rural areas. At a typical camp the children were awaken at 6:00 in the morning for catlestetics or sport. Accommodations varied. Some were newly built or modernized facilities. Others were more make-shift arrangements. This involved a morning salute, farm work, care of animals, marching, singing, outdoor games, and communal living. The program was different for boys and girls. There was also some military training like rifle training for the boys. The children were sometimes rausgejagt at night at 1 o'clock for a night march. There were outdoor campfires. The size of the groups. Varied. One source reports a group of 80 youths. I think the Landjahr could also be satisfied by arrangements with individual farmers. The Landjahr grew out of a much smaller program initiated in the 1920s. We notice various editions of Wir erleben das Landjahr published in 1939 and 1942 to promote the program. We do not fully understand this program, but have begun to collect some information.
The inspirtation for the Landjahr effort resulted from two related tremds associated with Germany's industrialization. Germany in the early-19th century was still a largely agricultural country. Germany began to industrialize in the mod-9th century. The process was very rapid. PrussiA in particular indistrialized and was a primsry reason they defeated the Austrians in the Asrtro-Prussian War (1866). The rapid industrialization proved very disonserting for many conservtive Germns.
Germany's economy began to change in the mid-19th century as the country began to rapidly industrialize. This same process throughout Europe meant a shift of population from rural areas into the cities. This drew agricultural workers, especially younger workers into the expanding industrial cities. Thus most Germans in the cities had rural origins, often with family still living on farms. Many had a kind of nosalgia for their rural origins. The cultural changes involved and inevitanle dislocations created conditions that rable rousing politicans like Hitler could use to his adavantage. German nationalists began to play on this theme and view the expanding industrial economy as a coruption of idelyic German rural life. This attachment to rural Germany and the land was a strong current in the NAZI Party. Himmler was especially imbued with this rural ethos and Hitler himself was affected. Ironically it was the German industrial power that the NAZIs would use to build a massive military force had
This industrialization occurred unevenly in the Germany. Much of German's industrial development occurred in the west. One of the areas least affect was East Prussia where an almost feudal economy continued into the 20th century. Here Prussian junkers persided over large estates. Their work force in the 19th century had included ethnic Germans as well as ethnic Poles (Slavs). A similar situation existed further east in the Russian controlled Baltic coast with the local Baltic population constituting the work force. In East Prussia there were also small-scale German farmers. Gradually German agricultural workers sought reasonably paying jobs in the expanding industrial econonomy to the west. Germany at the time also controlled areas of the former Polish kingdom with largely Polish ethnic populations. Thus East Prussia's population was becoming increasingly dominated by Polish and other non-German ethnic groups such as the Lithuanians. But it was not just young Germans that were moving west. Other agricultural laborors, especially Poles moved west to German cities to seek better working conditions and higher paying jobs in industrial factories and mines. As Germany became an industrial giant in the late 19th century, this population shift became increasingly pronounced. This created a shortage of agricultural labor in the east. This problem became an increasingly serious problem in East Prussia after World War I.
Germany or more accurately the German states were primarily agricultural until the mid-19th century. The Industrial Revolution that had begun in Britain during the mid-18th century had hardly touched Germany. While German industry began a rapid period of development and moderization, German agriculture did not. German agricultre was much less efficent than British agriculture. And despite the countries industrial growth, German agriculture did not moderize or mechnize. We are not entirely sure why, but one problem here was the small size of German farms. Germany became increaingly dependent on imported food as industry continued to expand. This would prove to a critical weakness for Germany in World War I when the Royal Navy blockaded Germany and cut off food and raw material imports. Food shortages at home undermined German morale. As more and more Germns moved from the farm to the growing cities that dependence only increased. Most Germans in the cities either grew up on farms or had parents who grew up on farms. Thus the country was still going through a period of adjustment and rapid social chnge at the time of World War I and the Depression. Support for the NAZIs was who seemed to represent traditional German society one aspect of that change. (Actually Hitler had in mind radical social chnhe and began implementing it after seizing power.) The NAZIs did have an emotionl attchmnt to the land, viewing farmers as the authenic soul of the Deutsche Volk. The Landjahr program was one outgrowth of this this ideological attachment to the land.
The NAZI Landjahr program grew out of a much smaller program initiated in the 1920s. Hals Holfeder founded the Bund Artam (1924). This was both a labor and nationalistic program. The movement of Germans out of East Prussia was affecting the ethnic compositon. Holfeder's program was an effort in part to maintain the German population and economic vialbility of agriculture in East Prussia.
Artam ws not a German word, it was a word created by the Anglo-German astrologer William Herschel who adopted an old Persian word. Holfeder's Bund Artamenen sought to recruit German youths for voluntary agricultural assistance in East Prussia and other eastern provinces (Silesia and Saxony). The aftermath of World War I was a rise in German nationalism and nationalists like Holfeder sought to prevent what they saw as East Prussia being overweakmed by Poles. Under the Weimar Republic, however, the Bund der Artamenen was only a small undertaking having little impact on the underlying demographic trends.
HJ boys and BDM girls completing their primry eduction had the opportunity to worked on farms. The program was called Landjahr, meaning land or country year. This was the experience. Another associated term was Landdienst or country service. This was the name of the program within the HJ organization. There was considerable support for the concerns that created the Bund der Artamenen within the NAZI Party. As a result, the NAZIs decided not only to continue the program, but to expand it. The NAZIs at Gustrow in Mecklenburg changed the name of the Bund der Artamenen to the Landdienst and incorporated it into the Hitler Jugend organization (1934). It thus became the Landdienst der Hitler Jugend or the Hitler Youth country service program.
The Landdienst thus sought to give city boys the opportunity to work on farms for a year. It was hoped that this would imbue these youth with a love of the land with the hope that some would become farmers. The Bund der Artamenen had been a program for male youths. The Landdienst decided to expand the program for females as well. The youths loved in Lnd Jahr camps. Ecery morning they marched out to neigboring farms who had work for them to do. At camp when not working the children as part of the program was received a generous dose of NAZI political organization.
The Landjahr despite the name was not really a 1 year program. The service period was 8-9 months. The reason for this of course was there was no real need for agriculural workers during the Winter. And the volunteers could be housed in basic camp fcilities which as they did not need to construct winter quarters were relatively inexpensive. In addition, most of the Landjahr youths were young. Most of the youths involved as well as their parents would want to be home for Christmas.
The Landjahr was for children who finished school at age 14 as well as older youths. Male Landjahr volunteers had to be between 14 and 18 years old. The age range was wider for female volunteers, in part because they were not concscripted into the military like male youth. In addition to the prinary purpose of brinining city youth in touch with the lnd, it also was an unemployment measure. Many school leavers couls not find jobs. Female volunteers ranges from 14-21 years old . Female volunteers needed written permission from their parents. Volunteers had to have a medical examination to assure that they were fit fir manual labor which constituted about 54-60 hours per week. The volunteers worked without pay which probably limited the appeal of the program. They did receive receive free room and board as well as 5 Marks per month for spending money.
The Landjahr program was only mandatory for university students. Performing Landjahr service was made a requirement to receive a university degree. I do not have details as to why the NAZIs made this requirement. I suspect that this was part of the overall NAZI desire to break down social barriers as well as to imbue future leaders with an attachmet to the land.
Initially the Landjahr was not just for HJ members. The HJ in 1934 was still a relativelly small organization. Of course as the HJ was rapidly expanded, almost all participants in the Landjahr were HJ members. The NAZIs expanded the original Bund der Artamenen program. Even so only a very small portion of HJ members ever participated in the program. During the first year or 1934 there were 45 groups with 500 youths. In 1935 there were 240 groups with mmore than 3,500 members including BDM girls were included into the program. The program continued to expand, but remained a rather limited effort within the massive HJ program. There were 462 groups in 1936 (6,608 members), 1,175 groups in 1937 (14,888 members); 1,452 in 1938 (18,000 members), and by September 1939 when World War II began 26,016 members. The relatively limited participation in the program suggests that German youth were not all that excited about the idea of returning to the land.
The Landdienst like the Bund der Artamenen was initially just for males. The program was extended to the BDM girls in 1935 and the girls outnumbered the boys by 1939. As the program was voluntary, this means that girls were more attracted to the experience than boys. I m not sure why this was. It could be that farm work was more attractive to the girls than boys. We doubt this. More likely as many German women did not work outside the home in the 1930s, we suspect that there were fewer alternatives for girls finishing school than their were for the boys. And NAZI ideology promoted the idea pf women staying at home, having babies, and taking care of the family. The term Küche, Kirche (children, kitchen, church) began to appear in the 1890s, but was the view of many NAZIs seeking to preserve and reinstate traditional roles, including gender roles.
NAZI German invaded Poland launching World War II (September 1939). Western Poland was annexed to the Reich and the NAZIs began the process of forcibly expelling Poles to the Government General. To support this effort the BDM initiated a new program called the Osteinsatz (eastern action). Girls wishing to participate could volunteer work in the areas of Poland annexed to the Reich (Reichsgaue Wartheland and Danzig-West Prussia). This "land service in the east" was different that the Landjahr program. They worked with the Germans brought in to replace the Poles expelled from their business, homes, and farms. We are unsure to what extent the Osteinsatz volunteers were aware of the attrocities associated with expelling the Poles or how they regarded it. Few German farmers wanted to move east so the NAZIs moved in Germans from the Baltics that had been ordered home to the Reich. While ethnically German, the Baltic Germans had lived away from Germany sometimes for centuries. Thus the Osteinsatz BDM girls were used to help teach the settlers what it meant to be German. This included giving German lessons as some of the settlers did not speak proper German. I'm less sure about what else it meant or how the BDM girls went about it. Did they teach classes or have a proscribed curriculum. Or did they go house to house. Perhaps both. We are unsure to what extent there was a political or racial components in teaching the settlers to be Germans. The BDM girls wre also used to help ensure the Poles did not take away anything of value from their homes and farms.
Here I am confused. Some sources indicate that the volunteers were billited by farm families where they worked. Yet we see photographs of boarding facilities as well as group activities tht could not be conducted if the volunteers lived on individual farms. Perhaps some the program included both approaches.
We are not entirely sure about the fcilities provided for Landjahr volunteers. We know they were Landjahr camps with the boys and perhaps also the girls living in tents, nuch like HJ summer camps. There were apparently also boarding facilities in rural areas. Accommodations varied. Some were newly built or modernized facilities. Others were more make-shift arrangements. Here we still need affitional informtion.
Landjajr units varied in size. They all had at least 10 members. The units were either male or female units, there were no mixed groups. Units with 45-50 members made up a Landdienstschar. This was overseen by a Landdienstscharfuehrer who was responsible to the local HJ-Bannfuehrer or BDM Untergaufuehrerin.
At a typical camp the children were awaken at 6:00 in the morning for catlestetics or sport. This involved a morning salute, farm work, care of animals, marching, singing, outdoor games, and communal living. The program was different for boys and girls. There was also some military training like rifle training for the boys. The girls did dancing programs as well as a range of domestic activities. The children were sometimes rausgejagt at night at 1 o'clock for a night march. There were outdoor campfires.
There were separate HJ and BDM groups. The size of the groups. Varied. One source reports a group of 80 youths. I think the Landjahr could also be satisfied by arrangements with individual farmers, at least in East Prussia.
The NAZIs continued the Landjahr program after the outbreak of World War II. It complemented other efforts like the need to sustain agricultural production despite the conscription of mle farm workers. It also assisted in the KLV evacuations to get German children out of the industrial cities being targeted by the Allied Strategic Bombing campaign. We do not yet know to what extent the two programs were coordinated, but both were HJ programs and the older KLV chilvere were also used for agricultural labor. We have noted reports that BDM girls in the Landhahr program were assigned a special duty in occupied northwestern Poland (Warthegau). This was an area of mixed German-Polish population. The SS began a process of deporting the Poles to the Gerneral Government (central Poland) so that ethnic Germans from the Baltic and other areas could be settled in an effort to pernanently Germanize the area. (Eventually under Generalplan Ost, Poles and other non-Aryans in centrl and eastern Poland would also be dealt with as part of a larger effort to Germanize the East.) We do not know if boys were also involved. The Landjahr youth were given the duty to carefully watch the Polish families being evicted to make sure they did not take anything of value from their homes and farms when the SS evicted them. We need to confirm this.
We have not yet found any accounts from the Landjahr volunteers describing their experiences are what they thoughout about it.
The Landjahr youths wore Hitler Youth uniforms. They had a destinctive district triangle that was green with "Landjahr" in white. I think they wore this inplace of the triage which identified where they were from while they were in the Landjahr program.
We notice various editions of Wir erleben das Landjahr (We Experience the Landjahr) published in 1939 and 1942 to promote the program. The 1939 volume was prepared by Ministerialdirigent, Staatsrat Schmidt-Bodenstedt. It was published by Verlag E. Appelhans & Co., Braunschweig.
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