When Adolf Hitler came to power, he wanted to make sure that Nazi Germany would be the successor of Holy Roman Empire, Wilhelm’s German Empire, and the Third Reich, would live for 1000 years. Thus, the Hitler Youth was founded— an organization meant to indoctrinate the youth of Nazi and indoctrinate them with the ideals of Nazism. In their heads they were creating the German Superman perfected and pure in the ideology of Nazi German culture and trained as soldiers to defend it(They never bothered to ask themselves if the ideology was so pure and perfect why would anyone fight against it, right?) When we think of the Hitler Youth we picture school boys dressed as Nazis, but the truth is that it was organized, according to age and sex as well. There were girls in the Hitler Youth. It was called Bund Deutscher Mädel, or the Girls of the Third Reich.

Origins of BDM

The Bund DeutscherMädel, or BDM, started in 1930 before Hitler became a Chancellor in 1933. Prior to it, other localized girl groups had been created in the early years of the National Socialist movement founded by Gustav Adolf Lenk in the 192os. The group focused on celebrating language, history, and folklore and teaching those topics in anti-Semitic interpretations. It failed to attract many members, but you can see the linkage.  The new Nationalist Socialist Man would be soldier and a worker defending the high culture of Germany and the Reich, while the new Nazi Woman would be teachers of that language, history and mythical folklore to their children.

In 1926, Kurt Gruber established the Hitler Youth, and soon, a women’s department was created, led by Helene Kunold and Anna Bauer. They wanted to rack up the number of women joining the regional groups. Once again, only a few got interested.

Hitler given flowers by Hitler Youth. (Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

On July 7, 1932, Baldur Von Schirach and Gregor Strasser decided to dissolve all the other Nazi girls’ groups and transfer all of them instead to the BDM. By the end of 1932, about 10,000 to 15,000 girls were members of the movement, and even more when Nazism rose to power. The group was used in Nazi propaganda, with posters of girls with braided hair in brown uniforms with the Swastika on the armband. That and its association with the Hitler Youth further increased its popularity.

Not Voluntary

The voluntary membership changed in 1939 when the Law on the Hitler Youth was implemented, making it mandatory for all young girls from 10 to 14 to be part of the Jungmädelbund or Young Girls League, while girls from 14 to 18 would be under the Bund Deutscher Mädel or League of German Girls. As Dr. Jutta Rüdiger, a doctor of psychology who was once the head of the BDM in 1937, said,

The task of our League is to bring young women up to pass on the National Socialist faith and philosophy of life. Girls whose bodies, souls and minds are in harmony, whose physical health and well-balanced natures are incarnations of that beauty which shows that mankind is created by the Almighty… We want to train girls who are proud to think that one day they will choose to share their lives with fighting men. We want girls who believe unreservedly in Germany and the Führer, and will instill that faith into the hearts of their children. Then National Socialism and thus Germany itself will last forever.

Reich Sports Day of the B.D.M. Sept. 23, 1934. (Ludwig Hohlwein , Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

The group was derogatorily nicknamed by the anti-Nazis “The League of German Mattresses,” suggesting that sexual activities were happening between the sex-separated groups with a conservative facade.

That isn’t really far from the truth.  In the SS, Heinrich Himmler instituted a program of arranged marriages where women volunteered under an exacting standard of racial purity to be the wives of SS officers.