American Ancestors
January 20, 2006

Posted by Stephan Hansen

In this post I will show relatively unknown facts from the past of Baldur von Schirach.

In 1931 Baldur von Schirach was a youth leader in the National Socialist German Workers Party. In 1933 he was made head of the Hitler Youth and held the title Reichsjugendfuehrer (National Youth Leader) until 1940. In 1940 Schirach left his post in the Hitler Youth which was then taken over by Arthur Axmann and Hitler made Schirach Reichsstatthalter of the Gau Vienna. He remained in that post until the end of the war.

Baldur Benedikt von Schirach was born on May 9, 1907 in Weimar, the son of theater director Rittmeister Karl von Schirach (1873-1948) and his American wife Emma Tillou(1872-1944). He married Henriette Hoffmann, the daughter of Hitler's famous photographer Heinrich Hoffmann in 1932. They had three sons and a daughter. She divorced him in 1949 while he was in prison.

On his mother's side, Schirach was descended from two signers of the American Declaration of Independence.

His grandfather Friedrich Karl von Schirach also emigrated to America shortly before the Civil War and had an honorable career in the Union Army. He rose to the rank of Brevet Major and later returned to his native Germany. He died within 10 days of the United States entering World War One in 1917.

Baldur von Schirach surrendered in 1945 and was one of the officials put on trial at Nuremberg. He was sentenced because of his post as Reichsstatthalter of the Gau Vienna and not because his post as National Youth Leader. He served twenty years as a prisoner in Spandau Prison and he was repatriated on September 30, 1966.

Edited for spelling by BDM Historian.


Marriage & Children

Posted by BDM Historian

Shown in the photo to the right is Clementine zu Castell, the first head of the BDM Werk Glaube und Schoenheit, the BDM Belief and Beauty Society, which was founded in 1938.

Clementine zu Castell was born on April 13, 1891 in Potsdam and was the Obergaufuehrerin of Franken prior to becoming the head of Belief and Beauty in February 1938 at the age of forty-seven.

A year and a half after taking this position, she married, and on September 12, 1939, she left her position, which was then taken over by Annemarie Kasper.

Annemarie Kasper was born on 3 January 1895 in Winden and besides holding the position of Obergaufuehrerin for Vienna, she was also a member of the Frauenschaft (the women's organization within the Nazi party) and the Nazi charity organization, the NSV. She was a trained nurse.

In 1941 she asked to leave the Belief and Beauty society because she planned to marry as well. By this point she was forty-six years old.

The third and last head of the Belief and Beauty Society was Dr. Jutta Ruediger who was also the National Speaker of the League of German Girls. Dr. Ruediger was born in 1910 in Berlin and had studied psychology, philosophy and economics at the university of Wuerzburg. She served as the head of the League of German Girls from 1937 until 1945 and worked as a psychologist after the war. She was twenty-seven when she joined the BDM and thirty-five at the end of the war.

If you read back over the short biographies of these three ladies you will find that I've made two points along the way. The first point is that all of these women were over the age of 21 by the time they even joined the League of German Girls. The second point is that when they married, they have to leave the organization.

Those points are interesting because a lot of historians say that membership in the league was open only to girls between the ages of 10 and 17, and some say between the ages of 10 and 21. In fact, a member could remain in the League for as long as she wanted as long as she did not marry or have children.

And that, of course, is the other point.

I often read articles in which it is written that the BDM did very little aside from pushing Nazi ideology down the girls' throats, and that this ideology mainly consisted of telling them they needed to marry and have as many children as possible (preferably blond, blue-eyed boys, of course) for the Fuehrer to supply the Fatherland with lots of future soldiers.

Some even say the girls were openly encouraged to have children out of wedlock to reach that goal. That statement actually goes back to a speech given by Himmler in which he said that "in the war a lot of men would be killed and therefore the nation needed more children, and it wouldn't be such a bad idea if a man, in addition to his wife, had a girlfriend would bear his children."

Dr. Jutta Ruediger remembered that speech and wrote in her autobiography: "And I must say, all my leaders were sitting there with their hair standing on end. "

I think the "having as many children under any circumstances" myth has followed the BDM around most persistently, even with all the other misconceptions that are out there, and there are many. (I found one thesis by a history student that claimed BDM girls accompanied Jews on the trains going to concentration camps. *sigh* I guess that was her understanding of the BDM's train station services?)

Anyway, I find this ironic because girls had to leave the organization if they did become pregnant or got married. I find it interesting as well that the leaders were to "set the example" for the younger members in many respects - not wearing makeup, not drinking or smoking in public, to name a few - but none of the leaders had any children or were married.


HJ Trousers
January 19, 2006

Posted by BDM Historian.

"No, Hans, you're not quite filling them out yet."

This photo came from an eBay auction for a pair of Hitler Youth trousers and I don't know about you, but every time I see this it just cracks me up. It's the worst possible pose anyone could have taken a picture in, and I'm surprised that it not only survived the war, but apparently also made it into some publications about the male Hitler Youth later on. (It's also not a particularly good picture for showing the cut and style of the pants... but that's beside the point.)


The Traditions Bar
January 17, 2006

Posted by BDM Historian.

This is more or less a test entry to make sure that everything in the notepad is working as it should. If anyone finds any deficiencies or problems, please let me know by commenting on the entry or sending me an email.

Today, I want to talk a little about the traditions bar seen on some of the Gau triangle insignia, such as the one on the right. The girl in the photo is a member of the Youth Leadership Staff - RJF means Reichsjugendfuehrung - and the wide stripe at the bottom of her patch is a silver tress. This "stripe" is called the traditions bar.

The traditions bar was awarded to members of the League who'd been members prior to 1933 and "without a break thereafter," as the paperwork states.

I was surprised to find that the information David Littlejohn provided on this bar in his book "The Hitler Youth" was incorrect, even though the rest of his book is a very good resource. According to Littlejohn, the bar was awarded to units that had been in existence prior to 1933 - but, in fact, it was only awarded to individuals.

The award was given along with a document certifying that the bearer was allowed to wear it because she was a member prior to 1933 and without a break thereafter. I have a picture of such a document in the "badges and insignia" section on the main website.

My colleague Stephan also recently found another version of this certification in form of a stamp in a BDM membership card. The text on the stamp conveys the same than the text on the document, and it is stamped with the stamp of the Untergau and signed by the Untergaufuehrerin.


Mission Statement

Posted by BDM Historian.

I've been toying with the idea of adding a kind of blog or "notepad" to the League of German Girls Historical Research website for some time. The main reason for this is not so I can add commentary or updates on my work, but rather, to share information and items that I don't have sections for on the website, or that are random but still related to the Third Reich subject matter.

For example, I've been wanting to rant for some time about the fact that a large majority of the BDM items offered on eBay are actually items of the male Hitler Youth, civilian items of the time period, or photos and items of the female Labor Service. I figured if I add such things to my blog where people can read about them, then folks trying to find out what is and isn't BDM when they start collecting or when they have something to sell, might be off to a better start.

Also, I've been wanting to translate some of the articles from "The German Girl" magazine, but really had no place to put them on my website. It's easy to forget for those of us who speak German that not everyone does, and that researchers who see the many digitized materials on my site may not be able to benefit from them in the way that I and my German-speaking colleagues do. So that is another thing I will be using this notepad for.

And lastly, it serves as a place for general commentary and updates as well. I may even post a funny picture or two - I don't know how many times I've come across a BDM photo that just screamed to be enhanced with a funny caption; or post other period-related tid-bits such as recipes or images.

The blog will also give you - my readers - a chance to comment! While I do allow anonymous comments for those of you who do not have an account with Blogger, I would prefer if you used the "other" setting in comments and left your name and, if applicable, website link. I think that if you have something to say, you should take some responsibility for it.