Propaganda, to some
March 29, 2006

Posted by BDM Historian

I've attempted to write this post a couple of days ago, but then Blogger (the program I use to create these notebook entries) buzzed, popped, and fizzled, and ended up taking my whole long post with it. Such is life. But back onto business.

I've been meaning to talk about two books for some time, both of which were published by the Junge Generation (young generation) publishing house; one in spring of 1939, the other in 1940. Both, like most books published by Junge Generation, were aimed at a young, teenage reader audience, and particularly at members and prospective members of the League of German Girls.

The books are on either end of the propaganda spectrum. The first book, published in 1940, is Ruth Krieger's "Deutsche Maedel im Osten", German Girls in the East. The subtitle on the cover reads, Erzaehlung vom Kampf um Grossdeutschland - A tale of the fight for Greater Germany - and this is a clear clue to the content of the book. The book's story is about the difficulties ethnic German girls were facing in areas of Poland that had been German prior to World War I, and the problems they faced trying to set up BDM groups.

As you might guess, this book is fairly heavy on propaganda - from Polish mistreatment of its ethnic German population to the evil Jewish press that does not publish anything but anti-German propaganda. The book is on the very far side of the propaganda scale, as are many other books published by Junge Generation.

However, that should not automatically mean that all books that were put out by this publisher were along the lines. Let's take Suse Harm's "Sommertage in Heidersdorf", Summer days in Heidersdorf, as an opposite example. Billed as "an entertaining camp story", Suse Harm's book appeals to a much younger readership both in style as well as in content than Ruth Krieger's book does. The story follows a Jungmaedel from Berlin, Irm, on her first summer trip to a youth hostel in Heidersdorf. We hear about Irm going to the leadership office to drop off her application and go for her medical exam. We read about the train trip and find out that Irm has never been outside of Berlin before - the closest she's ever come to the Baltic Sea or the big forests have been the ponds and small wooded parks in Berlin.

If there's any propaganda artfully hidden in this book, I'm at a loss where I might find it. As a matter of fact, this book could probably be found on many shelves today if you changed "League of German Girls" to "Girl Scouts" because it would still appeal to the same demographic of young girls on their first trip to camp. And while a group leader nowadays isn't very likely to play the accordion and girls carry expensive hiking backpacks instead of the small Tornister BDM girls had, youth hostel stays and adventures don't seem to have changed much over the years.