Bund Deutscher Mädel Activities


Figure 1.--Here we see a group of BDM girls at their summer camp, probably in the late 1930s. The sign has the HJ symbol and reads, "Schwab HJ: Lager. JM - Untergau 125. Lager Staufenburg." Lager means camp and Gau was a NAZI administrative unit. JM means Jung Mannschaft. Click on the image for a fuller discussion.

The BDM was part of the HJ organization. Some of the activities were comparable and the program for girls included some of the same mixture of campfire romanticism, folk tradition, and comradship as used with the boys. The BDM program, however, did not include the same intense competionions and mock combat used in the boys' program. We note the girls involved in meetings, charitable collections, field trips, singing, summer camps, hiking, sports, and other activities. As the program was different for the girls, so were some of the activities.including arts, crafts, child care, cooking, sewing, theater, and various other activities. The program was heavy on domestic skills. These were specifically for the BDM girls to prepare them for their intended roles in the new NAZI order--wife, mother, and homemaker. The NAZI slogan was Kinder, Küche, Kirche (children. kitchen, and church). The church part of tht was for public consumption and not psrt of the BDM program. The activities appealed to many girls. Some sources suggest that the BDM program w more popular than the more rigorous boys' program. Germany was still a very conservative, traditioal society. The opportuniisfor girls was still very limited. The ability to get away from home and to get involved in actiities seen as "boyish" seemed liberating to many boys. Girls were expected to stay with their parents even more than the boys. This was not peculiar to Germany. Programs like the Girl Scouts and Girl guides in other countries encountered the same social conservatism. Hee Germany in 1933 seemed still very conservative. Here given the conservative NAZI social outlook, even important NAZIs were not happy with the activities the BDM girls pursued. Heinrich Himmler for one was not happy with the BDM. They looked to boyish for his tastes. Himmler stated in a speech at Bad Toelz, "When I see these girls marching around with their nicely packed backpacks - it's enough to make me sick."

HJ amd BDM Activities

The BDM was part of the HJ organization. Some of the activities were comparable and the program for girls included some of the same mixture of campfire romanticism, folk tradition, and comradship as used with the boys. The BDM program, however, did not include the same intense competionions and mock combat used in the boys' program.

Specific Activities

We note the girls involved in meetings, charitable collections, field trips, singing, summer camps, hiking, sports, and other activities. As the program was different for the girls, so were some of the activities.including arts, crafts, child care, cooking, sewing, theater, and various other activities.

Biking

We had thought that bike trips were a activity for the boys which had a more strenuous and competivie program. Most of the photographs of bike outings we have found show the boys biking. We have hover found rferences to the girls biking as well. [Reese, p. 146.] We think it was less common than for the boys. Many German parents would not have liked the idea of girls on their own biking around the country while the idea was moew acceptable for the boys. Short day trips might have been acceptable for girls, but trips linvolving overnight camping or hostels would have encountered some opposition. An element of the BDM program, like the bpy's program, meant that there was no adult supervision. Rather the trips would have been superbised by older girls serving as BDM leaders. We have found a few photographs of BDM girls on biking expeditions.

"Belief and Beauty" Movement

The BDM in 1938 founded the Belief and Beauty movementas a part of the BDM. Membership was voluntary for girls ages 17 through 21 and the organization offered courses in arts and sculpture, clothing design and sewing, gymnastics, first aid,home economics, life skills, and music. Classes were generally taught by expert teachers from local universities or hospitals or women from the Frauenschaft (the NAZI Party women's auxillery). The Belief and Beauty movement focused more on a woman's future role as a wife and mother than any training the rest of the BDM provided." [Crawford] The German ZeitReisen Verlag will have an English-language version of their movie about the BDM "Belief and Beauty" movement (girls age 17-21) available in 2005.

Camp


Domestic skills

The BDM program was heavy on domestic skills. These were specifically for the BDM girls to prepare them for their intended roles in the new NAZI order--wife, mother, and homemaker. The NAZI slogan was Kinder, Küche, Kirche (children. kitchen, and church). The church part of tht was for public consumption and not psrt of the BDM program.

Hiking


Pagentry


Popularity

The BDM activities appealed to many girls. Some sources suggest that the BDM program w more popular than the more rigorous boys' program. Germany was still a very conservative, traditioal society. The opportuniisfor girls was still very limited. The ability to get away from home and to get involved in actiities seen as "boyish" seemed liberating to many boys. Girls were expected to stay with their parents even more than the boys. This was not peculiar to Germany. Programs like the Girl Scouts and Girl guides in other countries encountered the same social conservatism. Hee Germany in 1933 seemed still very conservative. Here given the conservative NAZI social outlook, even important NAZIs were not happy with the activities the BDM girls pursued. SS Reich Führer Heinrich Himmler for one was not happy with the BDM. They looked to boyish for his tastes. Himmler stated in a speech at Bad Toelz, "When I see these girls marching around with their nicely packed backpacks - it's enough to make me sick."

Sources

Crawford, Chris. E-mail message, June 6-7, 2005.

Kater, Michael. Hitler Youth (Harvard University Press 2004).

Reese, Dagmar. Growing up female in Nazi Germany.







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Created: 2:39 AM 1/31/2009
Last updated: 9:09 PM 1/31/2009