Kurt Gruber formed the first group of young members of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) in 1926. Rudolf Hess suggested the name of the Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend) and later that year transferred the leadership of the movement to Franz von Pfeffer of the Sturm Abteilung (SA).
The Hitler Youth (HJ) were taken over by Ernst Roehm in 1930 and remained as a adjunct to the SA. After Roehm was murdered during the Night of the Long Knives the group came under the control of Baldur von Schirach, the Reich youth leader.
Schirach asked Adolf Hitler to allow him to create an independent youth movement. Hitler agreed and Schirach now made several important changes to the way it was organized. Once girls reached the age of they could join the Jungmädel.
At 14 they entered the Bund Deutscher Mädel. (German Girls' League). This included a year of farm or domestic service. They were trained by female guardians and their overall leader was Gertrud Scholtz-Klink.
Young girls from the age of ten onward were taken into organizations where they were taught only two things: to take care of their bodies so they could bear as many children as the state needed and to be loyal to National Socialism. Though the Nazis have been forced to recognize, through the lack of men, that not all women can get married. Huge marriage loans are floated every year whereby the contracting parties can borrow substantial sums from the government to be repaid slowly or to be cancelled entirely upon the birth of enough children. Birth control information is frowned on and practically forbidden.
Despite the fact that Hitler and the other Nazis are always ranting about "Volk ohne Raum" (a people without space) they command their men and women to have more children. Women have been deprived for all rights except that of childbirth and hard labour. They are not permitted to participate in political life - in fact Hitler's plans eventually include the deprivation of the vote; they are refused opportunities of education and self-expression; careers and professions are closed to them.
A subsequent visit to an ivy-covered school for older girls in Berlin, Westend, about ten blocks from the American School, gave me further information about this domestic-economy curriculum. When I arrived, the schoolyard was crowded with girls. They looked serious as old women. Most of them were jumping, running, marching to the tunes of Nazi songs, to make their bodies strong for motherhood. Some were talking about Party duties, and the latest decrees of their Youth Leader, Frau Gertrud Scholtz-Klink.
A whistle shrilled and the girls gathered about an elevated platform. A Gruppenleiterin was making announcements. Different groups were assigned duties. Some were to go on hikes over the week end, others were to attend anti-air-raid rehearsals. One of the troops, No 10, was specially honored. It had been selected by the district to represent the school at the annual parade on Hitler's birthday.
Group 4 was selected to attend a graduation ceremony in the Palace's courtyard. Jungmaedel from the district would be promoted to ihe BDM status. A stir of reverence went through the group at the mention of this sacred rite.
For fifteen minutes the girls received minute instructions until each knew exactly what to do and when to do it. There was no whining, no complaining. Everybody seemed eager and happy to follow orders.
In school and generally it was celebrated as a liberation, that Germany could have hope again. I felt great joy then. It was portrayed at school as a turning point in the fate of the Fatherland. There was a chance that German self-confidence could grow again. The words 'Fatherland' and 'German people' were big, meaningful words which you used carefully - something big and grand. Before, the national spirit was depressed, and it was renewed, rejuvenated, and people responded very positively.
The Bund Deutscher Mädel (German Girls' League) was the female counterpart of the Hitler Youth. Up to the age of fourteen girls were known as Young Girls (Jungmädel) and from seventeen to twenty-one they formed a special voluntary organization called Faith and Beauty (Glaube und Schonheit). The duties demanded of Jungmädel were regular attendance at club premises and sports meetings, participation in journeys and camp life.
The ideal German Girls' League type exemplified early nineteenth-century notions of what constituted the essence of maidenhood. Girls who infringed the code by perming their hair instead of wearing plaits or the 'Grechen' wreath of braids had it ceremoniously shaved off as punishment.
The degree of parental supervision naturally diminished as young people went to camp and hostels for long periods of time. In 1936, when approximately 100,000 members of the Hitler Youth and the Girls' League attended the Nuremberg Rally, 900 girls between fifteen and eighteen returned home pregnant.
We were told from a very early age to prepare for motherhood, as the mother in the eyes of our beloved leader and the National Socialist Government was the most important person in the nation. We were Germany's hope in the future, and it was our duty to breed and rear the new generation of sons and daughter. These lessons soon bore fruit in the shape of quite a few illegitimate small sons and daughters for the Reich, brought forth by teenage members of the League of German Maidens. The girls felt they had done their duty and seemed remarkably unconcerned about the scandal.
At eighteen, several thousand of the girls in the Bund Deutscher Mädel (they remained in it until 21) did a year's service on the farms - their so-called 'Land Jahr', which was equivalent to the Labour Service of the young men. Their task was to help both in the house and in the fields. The girls lived sometimes in the farmhouses and often in small camps in rural districts from which they were taken by truck early each morning to the farms.
Moral problems soon arose. Actually, the more sincere Nazis did not consider them moral problems at all. On more than one occasion I listened to women leaders of the Bund Deutscher Mädel lecture their young charges on the moral and patriotic duty of bearing children for Hitler's Reich - within wedlock if possible, but without it if necessary.
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. And I must say, all my leaders were sitting there with their hair standing on end.
The Hitlerjugend (HJ) come to you today with the question: why are you still outside the ranks of the HJ? We take it that you accept your Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler. But you can only do this if you also accept the HJ created by him. If you are for the Fuehrer, therefore for the HJ, then sign the enclosed application. If you are not willing to join the HJ, then write us that on the enclosed blank.