Heidersdorf - part 1
May 31, 2006

Posted by BDM Historian.

The following text is a direct translation of the book "Sommertage in Heidersdorf" by Suse Harms, which was published by Junge Generation publishing in 1939. Its intended audience were Jungmaedel - and future Jungmaedel.

Presented here purely for your reading enjoyment.


Chapter 1
First time at Camp!


"Phew - this heat," said all the people who met one another on the burning hot asphalt roads. "This heat," said even the old ice cream vendor who'd set up his cart in the shade alongside a building, although especially he should have been happy since many people stopped to buy the "fine ice cream" or the "great, great raspberry ice cream, one penny for a huge portion!"

Irm was normally one of his customers if she had a penny to spare, but today there was something else she had to do. Today, she was going to the Untergau office for the first time in her life.

While she walked down the long road with its center strip of green grass and sycamore trees, she kept feeling her skirt pocket, the inside of which rustled promisingly. There it was, the registration paper for the Jungmaedel summer camp at Heidersdorf. She was really allowed to go. Just one more week!

On the street, trolleys, heavy buses, cars, and bicyclists passed in an endless procession. On the sidewalk, people hustled along; a man cursed, and a child cried. It had always been this way for as long as one could remember.

But now, something new was coming, something that she had never experienced before - she was going to the country. Irm thought about the forest. It had to be very large, many times larger than Grunewald, and there had to be real trees with real leaves, not just pines. Deer, too, had to be there with large antlers, and wild boars with huge teeth, and a big eagle owl with green eyes just like the one in her nature studies book. It was a little bit eerie in the woods. One wouldn't walk in there alone, that was for sure. But together with everyone else it was fun, of course.

And Irm thought about meadows. They had to be much bigger than the sunbathing lawns at Friedrichshain. The grass stood so tall one could hide in it, and the meadows were covered in colorful flowers that didn't grow in small garden plots. Mulleins, centaury - names just like in fairy tale books, and one couldn't quite know whether these flowers really existed or whether they were part of the fairy tale.

But fields were real. That was certain. They reached as far as the eye could see and touched the sky. Of course not in reality, but it looked like it, and it was beautiful to imagine running along a small path between the fields, further and further.

Maybe there was also a lake, since they were supposed to bring bathing suits, and then...

"Whoa, little girl, can't you watch where you're going," a voice suddenly said and Irm stopped, startled. She'd almost walked straight into a vat full of mortar. This meant she'd already reached the big construction site that lay across from the Untergau offices, and over there, in the grey house, they were. One could already see the sign with the HJ diamond gleam in the sunlight. Now the Jungmaedel camp was becoming a reality.

Irm felt for her registration paper one more time, it was still there. Along with a piece of string, a broken red pencil, and a no longer clean handkerchief, Irm dug it out of her pocket. And there it was written black on white: "... and you are to report to the Untergau offices on Friday, 28 June."

Irm pushed against the heavy front door which opened creakily. It was cool and dark inside and very quiet. One could almost get a bit nervous. There was also an arrow pointing up the stairway: "BDM-Untergau", and below, smaller: "JM-Untergau." That's where she had to go.

The Untergaufuehrerin's name was Kathrin. Irm knew that. She had once seen her during an Untergau formation and then at the sports festival. She was always surrounded by a lot of Jungmaedel who talked to her and laughed. Irm had found that silly back then. After all, they didn't know her, and just because she was the Untergaufuehrerin...? But now it would've been good to have known her, or if at least mother had come along for the registration.

The door on the upper landing was ajar. Irm entered a hallway in which a lot of Jungmaedel - Irm though at least a hundred - waited in a long queue. Irm breathed a sigh of relief. All of them surely wanted to go to camp as well, and almost all of them were on their own. Irm was very happy now that mother had told her: "Just go by yourself!" Otherwise she'd have had to be ashamed in front of these girls who were much younger than herself.

"Are you going to Heidersdorf as well?" Irm asked two girls who were intensely occupied with a brown furry knapsack. If one could get such a knapsack here? That would be great.

"No," said the older of the two. "I'm going to the sports camp on the Baltic, and Gerda is going to the borderland. But Inge back there is going to Heidersdorf."

Inge, who'd been repeatedly playing a little melody on her harmonica in a corner of the hallway came over. "If you're going to Heidersdorf, you have to go see Kathrin first. She's in the office before last. It's easy to find, there's a frosted glass pane in the door. That is to say, there used to be. Now it's half scratched and if you stand on your toes you can look in and make sure Kathrin is in the office."

With this, she pushed Irm into the right direction. The room was easy to find, even without the frosted pane. It had a big sign, "JM-Untergaufuehrerin."

Irm knocked and then stopped, somewhat embarrassed, in the doorway. Kathrin sat behind a large desk and wrote. Around her were whole mountains of notes and lists and all sorts of other loose sheets of paper. Irm thought that she had never seen so much paper in one place in her entire life. She probably wouldn't have made her way through this in her life. But an Untergaufuehrerin would be able to, of course.

Now Kathrin looked up. "Wait just a minute," she said. "Have a seat on the bench until I'm done." Irm pushed a few blue and green folders aside and sat down next to a short, plump Jungmaedel who'd come with her mother.

"I'm sure that girl is boring," Irm thought to herself. With that, the case was finished for the time being and she had time to look around the room - the potted flowers at the window, the bouquet of wild flowers and the little clay horse at the bottom of the desk lamp, and finally the funny plush giraffe that stood on long stiff legs tethered in front of the stove.

Irm would've never thought that such things would be allowed in an office. Did Kathrin really like flowers and animals, or did all offices look like this?

Meanwhile, the plump girl had edged closer. "You," she said quietly. "Are you going to Heidersdorf, too?" - Irm only nodded. - "Me too. Are you here all by yourself?" - "Of course," Irm said proudly. - "I wanted to come by myself, too, but mom is always so worried. She always thinks something will happen to me. She's only come along to tell Kathrin to keep an eye on me."

"Really," Irm said a little bit condescending. "My mother's never worried." How good it was that mother had sent her by herself! The plump girl fell into an almost awed silence and both of them looked back to Kathrin.

In front of Kathrin now stood a very small girl. She had two short brown braids that stuck out horizontally from her head. "I want to go to the Baltic, to camp," she said.

"Well look there, our Shorty!" Kathrin seemed a little bit surprised. "Tell me, how old are you, anyway?" - "Ten! And I already have my neckerchief and knot!" - "Well, Shorty, you're going to have to wait two more years. Such small people aren't very useful at camp."

"No?" Shorty was almost stunned. Then she remembered something. "But," and it didn't sound quite as certain anymore, "I'm going to turn eleven soon - next March."

The plump girl started to giggle but Irm elbowed her in the side. How mean, to laugh at that!

Kathrin was also very serious and didn't laugh at all. "No," she said. "For camping out in tents you're still too young. But you know what? Why don't you come to Heidersdorf with us. It'll be just as fun there. You'll see how much fun you'll have when we go swimming, go on hikes, and help the farmers. And we'll also hold a big village festival with a camp circus and everything. Well, what do you think?"

Shorty buttoned and unbuttoned one of the buttons on her skirt repeatedly. Irm even saw that she had to swallow real quick a couple of times. "But my mess kit," she started. "It's brand new and then I won't even need it!"

"There's always a need for that, and it's really great that you've got one." - Kathrin hadn't noticed about the quick swallowing at all. Or maybe she just pretended she hadn't. - "Now go into the room next doors and have Margot give you a backpack. You can even chose the nicest one."

Shorty turned. There was nothing she could change. "Bad luck," Irm thought, and then it seemed to her that someone needed to show Shorty something nice so she would be in a better mood again.

"You," she said and made a face that made Shorty laugh even though she didn't want to. "Look what that is!" With that, she pointed toward the funny giraffe in front of the stove that Shorty hadn't even noticed yet.

"Oh," Shorty said, but her face looked entirely different. And then: "Kathrin, is that yours?" - "That's our chain dog, it watches over the Untergau." - "Chain-giraffe," Shorty corrected her matter-of-factly. "What's its name?" - "It doesn't have a name." - "Well, then we'll have to christen it, okay, Kathrin?" - "Go ahead," Kathrin laughed, "but outside, if you please!" - "Yes, yes, of course, outside!" And Shorty had run out the door.

Now the plump girl and her mother had their turn. "My Elli may not overwork herself at sports, and there'll be no swimming. I would much rather keep her home with me, but my doctor has ordered me to take a vacation because of my weak heart. I can't take her there. The poor child is so delicate. You wouldn't believe, Miss Untergaufuehrerin, what kind of worries I have with Elli."

Elli herself had turned beet red during this long speech and kept tugging on her mother's dress. Irm could understand that. It was horrible when you were supposed to be and act different than everyone else.

"But I'm not delicate," she said when her mother paused. "You are to be quiet and stop contradicting me!" - Irm thought the situation was starting to get unpleasant and looked over to Kathrin to see what she thought about this.

But Kathrin said calmly: "Just go into the room across from this one where the Untergau doctor is examining all the girls who are going to camp. You can be sure that we will be extra careful if there is a need."

"Ah, the children will be examined?" Elli's mother was obviously relieved. "That puts me at ease. Please excuse the interruption, Miss Untergaufuehrerin, it's just that one wants to know the children are taken care of. After all, as the mother, I'm the one responsible. " And then she really left.

Now Irm stood alone before Kathrin. "My name is Irmgard Wagner," she said and shook hands. "I'm bringing my registration for the camp at Heidersdorf."

"Nice," Kathrin said, "You're number 81. A hundrend Jungmaedel will come along." Then she looked at the front and back of the registration. "Say, did you keep this in your wastebasket?"

Irm suddenly thought the registration really didn't look very nice anymore. It was all grey and pretty wrinkled. On top of that, the red pencil had left some marks and the back side had some sticky spots. Those were likely from the prunes the lady at the store had given her last night. But the wastebasket - it really wasn't that bad!

"No," she said quite accusingly. "I had it in my pocket." - "Aha," said Kathrin and made such a mischievious face that Irm almost thought she looked like a Jungmaedel. "Are you looking forward to it already?" Kathrin asked.

"A lot!" Irm said and looked straight at Kathrin. She thought a lot had changed in the last half hour. On her way she had only looked forward to the woods and meadows, the fields and the lake. But now she was also looking forward to Inge, Shorty, and even a little bit to fat Elli.


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osprey's hitler youth
May 30, 2006

Posted by BDM Historian

Note

I've made some annotations / footnotes to the review below... please scroll to the bottom of the page to read them. I didn't want to include them in the actual text as that may have caused some confusion.


The Hitler Youth - A Review

Osprey recently published "The Hitler Youth, 1933 - 1945", which was written by historian Alan Dearn. Alan Dearn is actually Dr. Alan Dearn; he holds a doctorate in late Roman religious history.

I have to admit that I was excited to see a new book about the Hitler Youth, particularly in English, since the sources on the subject seem to be few and far between, at least the ones worth buying. I was even more excited when I found the book at Borders and got to take a look at it, because it does include some information about the League of German Girls.

Let me start at the very back of the book which includes an interesting photo and the story of a girl by the name of Maria.

As the story is told in the book - I'm paraphrasing - Maria was 15 years old and a member of the BDM when her mother was killed in an Allied bombing raid, at which point Maria vowed revenge on the enemy. Because of her age, she was told she was too young to become a Flak helper, therefore she threw herself into her work as a BDM leader and also volunteered her time at the local Luftwaffe offices.

At one point in 1945, she was approached by a Hitler Youth leader who asked whether she had any interest in joining the Volkssturm, since they needed people to help with cooking and first aid. Maria jumped at the chance. She was trained in the use of a Panzerfaust, grenades, and pistol, and went into battle with the Volkssturm.

She was captured while giving first aid and never actually fired a shot. There's a photo of her, taken by her Allied captors, along with the story, showing her in a military overcoat with a medic's armband and carrying what appears to be a military backpack.

...

You may be wondering why I've chosen to point that part of the book out - it's because I think if you're going to buy the book for the sake of having some information on females in the Hitler Youth, this particular story is going to be the thing that'll make it worth (or not worth) spending your money on this book.

I have to admit that I was very disappointed.

Like most books on the subject of the Hitler Youth, Dearn's book also treats the BDM as a kind of afterthought and only devotes a few paragraphs of text to them, their training, and their uniforms. If you were to place all the text and photos of the BDM that are in this book, together, they would take up approximately one page, not counting Maria's story. The shortness of the BDM material would probably not be a bad thing ... if the information were good, correct, and came annotated with the proper sources. Unfortunately, it isn't and it doesn't.

While I have to give Dearn full credit for stressing that the BDM received no paramilitary training, there is little else he wrote about the BDM that I can give him any kudos for, and his writing generally seems to be lacking sources.

The only source he cites in his BDM sections is Melita Maschmann's "Fazit", which he quotes repeatedly. In part of the uniform description, he makes note of a former member remembering that "her homemade skirt wasn't as smart as the store bought ones", but gives no source for this blurb, not even a name or book reference (2). He also cites that Jutta Ruediger was categorically against a proposed women's unit, and that at the end of the war a small number of leaders were given pistol training which they never put to use thereafter, but gives no source for either. As a researcher and a historian, I would want to know where this information came from. (1)

The other thing that got me was that after the research he has done - he gives an impressive bibliography of secondary and some primary sources at the back of his book - he still got things very wrong. Easy things, at that.

For example, during his description of the BDM uniform, he makes note that girls were only awarded the black neckerchief and leather knot slide after they graduated from the Jungmaedel to the BDM at age 14. I'm not sure what his source for this is, but the Jungmaedel's own manual states that the girls were awarded the right to wear the neckerchief upon becoming a full member of the Jungmaedel. (3)

In the same section about uniforms, he talks about the uniform being worn with either "a blue cap" or black beret in winter. I wish he had been more specific because this "blue cap" is the Jungmaedel cap, which was also nicknamed Teufelskappe and was only authorized to be worn by Jungmaedel.

The other thing that is very confusing about his book is his use of abbreviations. At the front of the book (along with the copyright information), Dearn makes a small note that he is using Hitler Youth to refer to the organization as a whole, and the German abbreviations to refer to the individual groups. In other words, BDM for League of German Girls, and HJ for Hitler Youth.

Where this gets odd and confusing is when he is speaking about the "junior" organizations of both, because he is using DJV and DJM for the Jungvolk and Jungmaedel respectively. I have yet to see a period source where DJV was used for the Jungvolk - it's always been just DJ (Deutsches Jungvolk). And there are no sources referring to the Jungmaedel Bund as Deutsche Jungmaedel or DJM.

In short, I found the book disappointing.

And the thing is, when there are big errors like using the wrong name for the organization or saying that only girls 14 or older wore the neckerchief, it really calls into question the rest of the book. I honestly don't know how good his research and writing on the male Hitler Youth are (not having read them in detail), but I shudder to think the text on the BDM might be any indication.

What's worse is that because Osprey published it, there'll be a lot of people taking it as unquestionable - after all, they're Osprey.


Annotations


(1) I'm fairly certain that the source for those latter two is Dr. Jutta Rudiger's book "Ein Leben fuer die Jugend" since both her vehement protest about a women's unit, as well as mention of BDM leaders taking pistol training are included in her book.

(2) The skirt reference may have come from a variety of sources, including some of the personal narratives on this website, such as that of Giesela Borgwaldt found here.

(3) Jungmaedel were sworn in on April 20th of each year, after which they had six months to complete the Jungmaedel Challenge, which consisted of a series of tests. If all tests were passed, the Jungmaedel became full members on October 2nd of the same year, at which point they were awarded the right to wear the neckerchief.)


3 comments


Old photos in color
May 28, 2006

Posted by Stephan Hansen

I have colored two old Jungmaedel photos with Photoshop 7.0. It's very difficult to choose the correct colors and I hope somebody like the result. Unfortunately I have no graphic-tablet and I had to work with a simple computer mouse.


A Jungmaedel give her shoes a shine... Here can you see the original photo.


A portrait photo, it's a Jungmaedel from the Gau Nord-Nordmark. Here is the photo in black & white.


4 comments