Posted by BDM Historian.
Irm is allowed to help
"And now, go over to the doctor to get examined," Kathrin said at the end. Oh dear, that couldn't be! Irm looked down on herself where, close to the waistband of her blue skirt was a thick bulge that didn't actually belong there. It wasn't very noticeable while she was wearing the skirt, but...
"Well, what's the matter; are you scared?" Kathrin's voice sounded impatient. "N-no," Irm stammered. Damn, if she'd only taken more time getting dressed this morning! - "Kathrin, do you have to undress to get examined?" - "Of course, or do you think they can do that while you're in blouse and skirt? Now go, hurry!"
Before she had time to think, Irm stood in front of the door with the long row of other Jungmaedel. About fifteen were still in front of her - no, now only ten, then five more were called in to the doctor. Irm sighed deeply. She couldn't go to be examined, she couldn't undress - but to tell Kathrin why, that was impossible.
"Irm, what's with you? Aren't you allowed to go?" - Inge! How good that she was still here. Maybe she could help. Irm pulled the other girl into a corner: "You," she said. "You've got to help me! It's something horrible. This morning I had to rush so much getting dressed or I'd have been late for school. And, well, the elastic band in my sport shorts broke - I'm wearing sport shorts under my skirt because it's so hot. So I quickly took a piece of string to tie them up. You couldn't really see it through the skirt, but if I'm supposed to undress now..."
Inge was nearly crying she was laughing so hard. "That's hilarious! Nobody else would think of something like this!" - Irm started to really get angry. "So you stand there and laugh! Tell me what I'm supposed to do, instead!" - "Of course, of course!" Inge giggled a couple of times more and then thought about it. "Is the elastic band still in there?" - "Yes, but it's slid into the waist band." - "It's not that serious, then," said Inge. She had a safety pin that she would be able to fix it with.
"But where? There's girls everywhere!" Irm looked around helplessly. - Inge pulled her harmonica out and started playing a slow melody. "Do you know that?" - "No, but what's that supposed to help." "Far away in the South lays the beatiful Spain. A very pretty song," Inge said dead serious. "Come on!" Then she pulled Irm along to a place one usually goes to visit alone.
There, the string was taken off first and then the elastic band was properly pulled forward. "Thank you," said Irm. "Now they won't make fun of me." She wished that there was something right away Inge needed help with. It didn't have to be a string or anything. Well, maybe later.
Peacefully they both walked into the exam room. There, fat Elli stood in front of the doctor. "Careful with sports, no swimming," the doctor dictated to an older BDM girl who sat in front of a typewriter. Poor Elli! Only Elli's mother nodded contently.
Then it was Irm's turn. "Fit," the doctor said, and then: "And at least you're nice and clean and even washed your hair. That's good!" Irm turned very red and glanced at Inge. But Inge must've found something very interesting in a corner of the room - in any way, she was staring very busily over there.
Irm had to give her name and address to ther girl at the typewriter and was given a note on which the departure time of the train was written: "On 27 June at 4 o'clock in the afternoon at Stettin train station. Meeting time is at 3:30 at the same station."
"Do you want a backpack? You need to get it from the administration office. The girl's name is Margot and she's in the room next to Kathrin. Do you have any questions?"
"Alright!" Irm said and shook hands with the older BDM girl. Then she walked into the administration office where the backpacks were stacked up in a big pile. Just now, Shorty had chosen one after lengthy searching. It was really a splendid example of a backpack. Almost brand new and with nice, light brown fur on the flap. "I'll take this one," Shorty said decidedly.
Margot then explained to her how to properly pack all her things in it, where the shoes went and where the clothing went. "Do you know how to roll your blanket correctly?" she asked at the end. "Of course," Shorty was quite sure. "Just roll it up like a big sausage."
"That's what you think!" Now Margot showed her with a large piece of paper how to fold the blanket first and then roll it up. "From both sides or it'll never lay correctly."
Aha, that's how it was done. Margot certainly had to have been at camp or on trips a lot even though she didn't really look like a girl but rather like a young lady. She didn't also wear the BDM uniform but a nice blouse and a large bracelet on her left arm.
Irm also hadn't known how to roll a blanket until now. But that wasn't something she needed to tell everyone. "Thank you, I know how, you don't have to explain it to me," she said when Margot handed her a backpack. Margot just laughed: "I believe that. You were standing here the whole time when I showed Shorty."
Damn, turning red again. Everyone at the Untergau was really paying attention. You could probably not pretend anything. But generally, things were quite right this way.
Then Irm was back outside in the dark hallway. The long line of Jungmaedel was gone completely but it was still as busy as a pigeon loft. Jungmaedel came and went, got backpacks or paid their camp fees. Some just now registered. One time, a girl with a big briefcase went to see Kathrin. "Courier from the Obergau offices," she said when the door was opened. What might be in there? And one time, a girl with a big net full of black rubber balls came and went into the administration office.
Irm could've gone home long ago. She was quite useless where she was at. Inge and Ellie had left already, Stups and all the rest, too. But she was still sitting on the lonely chair in the dark corner next to Kathrin's office where she was out of everyone's way, and watched and listened. Sometimes she understood a few words or parts of a sentence: NSV - camp - Kinderlandverschickung - big trip - trip to another country - camping - and then more and more: Heidersdorf - Heidersdorf - Heidersdorf. So, a Jungmaedel camp made this much work. Everyone at the Untergau had a lot of work but everyone was in a good mood. Sometimes she heard laughing or singing.
Irm would have liked to help with the work. But a Jungmaedel probably couldn't do that yet. Actually she'd had plans to pick up Elfi from the next building to go out and play. They wanted to take their scooter out into the street and later go eat strawberries in Elfie's parents' garden. Why didn't she feel like doing this anymore? Children played, and adults worked to make money. That had been quite natural for Irm until now. But at the Untergau, work was different. Why? So the Jungmaedel could go to camp and had a good time? Or was there something else entirely? One of those secrets that grown ups know, and that you had to keep asking about without ever getting a real answer. "The people," said the teacher. Sometimes also, "the Fuehrer." But that wasn't much help, either. Irm pulled her legs up onto the chair and folded her arms around the knees. A sharp vertical crease appeared on her forehead, as it always did when she was deep in thought.
Suddenly she startled. The door of Kathrin's office had opened and the light blinded her so that she had to blink. "Oh," Kathrin said a bit surprised, "You're still here? Do you have a little more time? You could help us out!" - "Help? Me?" Irm slid off her chair and was entirely back to reality. "Help", Kathrin had said. How wonderful!
"Come along to Margot, you can help her make copies on a mimeograph." Irm had no idea what a mimeograph was or how it was done, but eagerly followed Kathrin into the administration room. She would show her how it was done.
Margot had two sheets of nearly transparent paper in her hand, whose upper edges were glued to a yellow cardboard material. Something was typewritten on one of the sheets. One couldn't read it, however, because there was no ink. This sheet was called the stencil.
"You'll have to put some kind of smock on the little one, or she'll get herself dirty," Margot said and pulled the stencil over a roll that looked a little like a laundry roll.
"Little one!" Irm was outraged. As if she was a Kindergartener! "BAAA" she wanted to say and stick her tongue out at Margot when she fortunately remembered that she was at the Untergau office with her Untergaufuehrerin where such a thing didn't belong. But she'd get Margot back for this. Certainly.
Kathrin meanwhile had looked around the room and came back with two towels that she knotted together at the top so that one hung down Irm's front, the other her back. "Now we just need a belt or something." - "I've got a piece of string," Irm said. "Good," Kathrin was satisfied. "You really are a very useful Jungmaedel." Irm tied the string lovingly with a little bow. A broken elastic band could be quite a blessing!
Then the work started. Kathrin sat down at the typewriter and began working on a large stack of envelopes, while Margot placed a white sheet of paper in the roll, which came out as a finished typed letter on the other side. It was almost magic.
Irm looked closely at the letters. "They're more sign-up forms," she said in surprise. "Do you still need those?" - "For the second camp at Heidersdorf," Margot explained. "Those girls will get there when you leave." - "Are you going, too," Irm wanted to know, but Margot made a face: "I don't know yet. Maybe I'll visit my aunt in Hamburg. After all, one wants to enjoy a little private time sometimes. Or, what do you think, Irm, should I go?"
Irm looked Margot up and down, the smart blouse and the bracelet, which she liked the least. Then she wrinked her nose and said, "Hm - if I were you, I'd go soon. Next year you'll probably be too old already." So, that was her revenge for being called "little one".
Kathrin bent deeper over the typewriter but Margot laughed. "You can stay exactly the way you are! Thanks a lot!" Irm was disappointed. Margot wasn't angry at all! But overall she liked that. Margot was a lot nice than she had thought - even with that bracelet!
Almost a little embarrassed, Irm continued working. She had to go through the big stack of sign-up forms to find the plain pages that sometimes ended up in between. You had to pay close attention and be very quick.
Suddenly a door opened and a woman stuck her head in, "What now, the ladies will be done soon?" she asked. Kathrin looked up: "Ten more minutes, Miss Zielke, then you can clean in here." - "Well, well, " Miss Zielke came into the room and leaned her broom against the wall. "I'll make some coffee then. You're thirsty, aren't you, Kathrin? And I got some cake, too." - "Wonderful, Mizz Zielke, thank you so much!" Kathrin beamed and looked just like a Jungmaedel again.
By the time the water was buzzing inside the electric cooker, they were finished and now something wonderful happened: Irm was allowed to drink coffee with Kathrin, Margot, and Miss Zielke and eat strawberrycake, too. She would volunteer to help more often, even after camp, that was for sure!
When she later walked along the long road with the sycamore trees with Katrhin she suddenly thought of something. "Kathrin," she said abruptly, "how is that at the Untergau, with the work?" - "How is what?" Kathrin asked back. - "I mean, with the work." - "What about the work?" - Well, how was she going to explain to her now what she had thought about while she'd been sitting in the dark corner next to the office. "I... eh... I just mean," Irm said embarrassedly and Kathrin looked at her: "You're a funny one!"
Irm walked quietly next to Kathrin until they parted ways at the commuter railway station. Kathrin really did belong to the grown ups who never "got" what one was trying to say, even though she still looked like a Jungmaedel. Too bad!
On the commuter train, however, which was clattering north through the blocks of houses and the countless allotment gardens, sat Kathrin and thought about the pair of asking Jungmaedel eyes who seemed to have wanted to know something very important. But it was entirely impossible to understand a Jungmaedel soemtimes, even if you are Untergaufuehrerin. Too bad!
Posted by Stephan Hansen
I have colored more photos with Photoshop 7.0 and here are the results.
Two Jungmaedel are in the backyard and washing their faces. Here can you see the original black and white photo. The historian Chris Crawford had used this photo as cover for "The Jungmaedel Service", it's a direct translation of the 1940 introductory pamphlet for the Jungmaedel League and here can you order "The Jungmaedel Service".
A group of some girls from the League of German Girls. The girl in the middle of the pic wear a traditions triangle on her Kletterweste or jacket. You can see the original photo here in the webmaster collection.
Many girls from the League of German Girls at the gathering place "Baden". This was the catchiest photo to colorize. Here is the original black and white photo in the gallery.
Copyright for all pictures Chris Crawford.