STDs, Pregnancy, and Brainwashing: The Bund Deutscher Mädel

The Bund Deutscher Mädel, or, the League of German Girls, was for all intents and purposes the female equivalent of the Hitler Youth. The BDM existed for girls 14-18 to mold them into proper Aryan women.

BDM girls in 1935. Photo taken by Georg Pahl, courtesy of the German Federal Archives.

An interesting aspect of the BDM is that the girls seemed to have been trained to view their parents as enemies of both themselves and the Reich. In her memoir of her time in a women’s prison between 1936 and 1937, Gabriele Herz notes how her Aryan inmates—jailed primarily for the crimes of being Communists and Jehovah’s Witnesses—worried over the fate of their daughters. One in particular had been raising her daughter alone before her incarceration. This woman’s daughter had been entered into the BDM for re-education after said incarceration, and her mother feared that her daughter was being brainwashed into Nazism.

Many parents despaired over their daughters’ experiences with sexuality while in the BDM. Girls as young as 15 would become pregnant, and inform their horrified parents that they were happy to be the brides of their Führer and bear children for his Reich. Victor Klemperer notes in the first half of his diaries that hospitals were full of BDM girls who had become pregnant or acquired STDs in their time with the BDM. Their parents were frantic, but powerless in most cases as their daughter had been trained not to look to their parents for ultimate authority.

I think there’s a lot I could say here about the Third Reich’s attitudes towards youth, towards the place of parents in the lives of that youth, and the possibility that the Third Reich was attempting to systemically turn its youth against their parents, but I don’t know enough about the social history of “Aryan” populations to be able to say anything definite.

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