In 1930 the Bund Deutscher Mädel (League of German Girls in the Hitler Youth) was formed as the female branch of the Hitler Youth movement. It had a small membership until the election of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor in 1933. Traudl Junge was one of those who joined after the election: "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 BDM was run directly by Hitler Youth leader, Baldur von Schirach. The historian Cate Haste has pointed out: "The leadership immediately set about organizing youth into a coherent body of loyal supporters. Under Baldur von Schirach, himself only twenty-five at the time, the organization was to net all young people from ages ten to eighteen to be schooled in Nazi ideology and trained to be the future valuable members of the Reich. From the start, the Nazis pitched their appeal as the party of youth, building a New Germany.... Hitler intended to inspire youth with a mission, appealing to their idealism and hope." Hedwig Ertl remembers. ""All the time you were kept busy and interested, and you really believed you had to change the world... As a young person, you were taken seriously. You did things which were important.. Your dependence on your parents was reduced, because all the time it was your work for the Hitler Youth that came first, and your parents came second."
In 1934, Trude Mohr, a former postal worker, was appointed as the leader of the Bund Deutscher Mädel. In a speech soon after taking control of the organisation she argued: "We need a generation of girls which is healthy in body and mind, sure and decisive, proudly and confidently going forward, one which assumes its place in everyday life with poise and discernment, one free of sentimental and rapturous emotions, and which, for precisely this reason, in sharply defined feminity, would be the comrade of a man, because she does not regard him as some sort of idol but rather as a companion! Such girls will then, by necessity, carry the values of National Socialism into the next generation as the mental bulwark of our people."
Richard Grunberger, the author of A Social History of the Third Reich (1971) has argued: "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."
All girls in the Bund Deutscher Mädel were told to dedicate themselves to comradeship, service and physical fitness for motherhood. In parades they wore navy blue skirts, white blouses, brown jackets and twin pigtails. Isle McKee wrote about her experiences in the German Girls' League in her autobiography, Tomorrow the World (1960): "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."
The daughter of the American ambassador in Germany, Martha Dodd, explained how the system worked: "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."
It has been argued by William L. Shirer that the sending of young women to work on farms caused certain problems: "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 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." As Richard Grunberger pointed out: "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."
After Trude Mohr married in 1937, she was required to resign her position (the BDM required members to be unmarried and without children in order to remain in leadership positions), and was succeeded by Dr. Jutta Rüdiger, a doctor of psychology from Düsseldorf. She was a close ally of Baldur von Schirach and joined him in resisting efforts by Gertrud Scholtz-Klink, the head of the Nazi Woman's League, to gain control of the BDM.