League Of German Girls

Ilse Hirsch, Hauptgruppenführerin (Captain) in the BDM (League of German Girls) - National Socialist Cover Girl, 1940.

Hirsch was a member of ‘The Werewolves’, the 1945 Nazi resistance force working behind enemy lines during the Allies advance into Germany. At 23 years of age, she took part in ‘Operation Carnival’, the assassination of the mayor of Aachen, a wartime US collaborator. She parachuted along with five men into the outskirts of Aachen. When separated from her fellows, she continued on into the town. Hirsch located the target, one Franz Oppenhoff. When reunited with her compatriots Hirsch related her intel - Oppenhoff’s execution was a remarkable success. She was eventually arrested, tried in 1949, and sentenced to four years in prison. Ilse Hirsch served her sentence, married, and had two strong, healthy boys. She retired near Aachen.

Germany 1918-1939 (Dawn of the Third Reich)

To any student sitting their History GCSE exam like me in the next month or so, this may prove helpful! I wrote it up in class, using my textbook to get the correct dates.

1918
January:
Wilson’s 14 Points announced
November: Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated the throne of Germany
November: Armistice was signed and World War 1 officially ended.

1919
January:
Sparticist Revolt. Led by Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Liebknecht. Stopped by the Freikorps. Luxembourg and Liebknecht murdered.
February: Friedrich Ebert declared first President of the Weimar Republic.
June 28th: Treaty of Versailles signed by all parties. Formally ends the war.
September:
Hitler joins the German Workers’ Party in Munich.

1920
March:
Kapp Putsch. Led by Dr. Wolfgang Kapp. Seized the city of Berlin. Ebert called a general strike which crippled the putsch. Kapp fled but was captured later, died in custody from cancer.

1922
June 24th:
German foreign minister Walter Rathenau is assassinated by terrorist group Organisation Consul.
December 27th: French and Belgian troops invade and occupy the Ruhr after Germany fails to make reparations payments. Over 100 civilians die as Ebert calls for passive resistance. Ebert begins printing money to cover the cost of supporting expelled civilians.

1923
October:
Hyperinflation begins gripping the German economy. Prices soar.
November 8th-9th: National Socialist party (Nazis) launch the Munich Putsch in an attempt to seize the Bavarian (Munich) government. Put down by police and army units. Hitler, Ludendorff and Rohm arrested. Hitler sentenced (February 24th 1924) to 5 years imprisonment in Landsberg prison.

1924
December 20th:
Hitler released from Landsberg prison after serving less than a year of his sentence.

1925
February 25th:
President Ebert dies in office. Hindenburg replaces him.
May: Hitler orders the formation of the Schutzstaffel (SS)
May 22nd: Hitler becomes the leader of the Nazi party.

1926
October:
The Hitler Youth is formally established.

1929
October 24th:
The Wall Street stock exchange in New York city crashes, forcing America and the majority of the major powers into the Great Depression. The number of seats in the Reichstag for the Nazi party increase as Hitler begins winning Germany over.

1930
January:
Ernst Rohm becomes the leader of the SA – the Sturmabteilung.
July:  League of German Girls is established.

1932
July:
The Nazi Party becomes the biggest political party in the Reichstag.
August 30th:
Hermann Goering, Hitler’s deputy, is elected president of the Reichstag.
December 3rd:
Kurt von Schleicher instated as chancellor.

1933
January 27th:
Kurt von Schleicher resigns as chancellor.
January 30th: Hitler is elected as chancellor.
February 27th: Reichstag fire. Communist revolutionaries like Marinus van der Lubbe are blamed.
March 23rd: Enabling Act is passed. Gives Hitler the power to pass laws without Hindenburg.
July: The Nazi Party declared the only official party. All others illegalised
July 20th: Hitler agrees to leave the Catholic churches alone. They agree to stay out of politics.
October 14th: Germany withdraws from the League of Nations.
November 30th:
Goering forms the Gestapo.

1934
June 30th:
Night of the Long Knives. Ernst Rohm assassinated, as are many politicl opponents or threats to Hitler’s power.
August 2nd: President Hindenburg dies. Hitler becomes Fuhrer.

1936
March 7th:
Hitler orders the remilitarisation of the Rhinelands, against the Treaty of Versailles.
July 22nd: Hitler pledges support to General Franco of Spain for the civil war. Tested out new military weapons.
August 1st: Berlin Olympic Games. All Anti-Jewish propaganda removed.
October 25th: Hitler and Mussolini form the Rome-Berlin Axis.
November 25th: Germany, Japan, and later Italy, form the Anti-Comintern Pact.

1938
March 13th:
Germany achieves Anschluss with Austria, defying the Versailles treaty.
November 9th: Kristallnacht (Crystal Night, The Night of Broken Glass). Mass destruction of Jewish property and shops. Over 1,000 Jewish men arrested.

1939
January 5th:
Hitler declares the Polish city of Danzig to be “German” and will “again be part of Germany.”
May 22nd: The Pact of Steel strengthens the German-Italian alliance.
August 23rd: Nazi-Soviety Non-Aggression Pact signed. Contained a plan to divide and invade Poland.
September 1st: Nazi forces invade Poland from the west and triggers World War II when Britain pledges support to the Polish.

Ilse Hirsch was a Nazi resistance fighter who played a key role in the assassination of Franz Oppenhoff in the later days of World War Two.

Born in 1922, Hirsch joined the League of German Girls, part of the Hitler Youth movement, when she was 16 years old and became one of the organisation’s leaders. In 1945 she became involved with the Nazi resistance force, dubbed ’The Werewolves’, whose mission was to work behind enemy lines as the Allies advanced into Germany.

Hirsch was selected to take part in Operation Carnival, a mission to assassinate Dr. Franz Oppenhoff, who had recently been appointed mayor of Aachen by the Americans who had taken control of the city. Hirsch knew the ground well and acted as a guide for the team. Along with 5 other Werewolves she was parachuted in near Aachen and guided them to Oppenhoff’s countryside home outside the city. Oppenhoff was shot by SS Lieutenant Leitgeb on the steps of his home, after which Hirsch attempted to lead the Werewolves to safety. However she caught her foot on a trip-wire and triggered a landmine, gravely injuring her and killing Leitgeb.

Hirch’s injuries kept her in hospital for a long time but she eventually returned home. In 1949 the surviving members of the team, barring one, were arrested and became the subject of Aachen ‘Werewolf Trial’. All were found guilty and sentenced to 1-4 years in prison, but Hirsch was released. Following the war Hirsch continued to live in the Aachen area, marrying and having two sons.

2

The origin of the Hitlerjugend, or “Hitler Youth”, dated back to 19 Mar 1922 when the Jungsturm Adolf Hitler program was established in Munich, Bavaria, Germany one year after the start of the Sturmabteilung (SA) para-military organization as a training program for the SA. Between the failed Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, the Jungsturm Adolf Hitler went underground and operated in small cells; the combined membership of these smaller organizations were estimated at 5,000 by 1925. In early 1926, Kurt Gruber merged several of the remnant cells to form the Großdeutsche Jugendbewegung, or “Greater German Youth Movement”, while around the same time Gerhard Roßbach operated the Schilljugend based out of Southern Germany and Salzburg, Austria; there were also many other politically-motivated youth organizations in Germany at the time. On 4 Jul 1926, National Party Day, only six months after the establishment of the Greater German Youth Movement, it became the official youth organization of the Nazi Party. In the following month, it took on its new name that identified itself as an official instrument of the Nazi Party: Hitlerjugend.

By 1930, the Hitler Youth had a membership of 25,000 boys older than 14 years of age. It also expanded its operations by establishing the Deutsches Jungvolk for boys aged 10 to 14. In 1928, the Hitler Youth organized Schwesternschaft der Hitlerjugend for girls; in 1930, it was renamed the Bund Deutscher Mädel, or League of German Girls. In Apr 1932, the Hitler Youth movement was banned by Chancellor Heinrich Brüning because it was so politically motivated, but the ban was lifted two months later by Brüning’s successor, Franz von Papen, in an attempt to appease Adolf Hitler, who was undeniably becoming more and more influential in German politics. By the end of 1932, a few weeks before the Nazi Party came into power in Germany, the membership was at 107,956. In 1933, Baldur von Schirach became the first Reichsjugendführer, or the Reich Youth Leader, of the Hitler Youth. By the end of 1933, growing popularity and forced merger of various youth organizations grew the membership to over 2,000,000. In early Dec 1936, membership grew to over 5,000,000 as it comprised of over 60% of German youth. Later in the same month, membership became compulsory for all German boys between 14 and 18.

As expected, the boys of the Hitler Youth spent much of the time performing physical training via sports and hiking, preparing them for military service. Hiking often became training for military marches, while activities around the camp fire included basic weapons training. Stories told in the evenings were full of Nazi ideals, including anti-Semitic indoctrination. Bullies among the group who preyed on younger boys were tolerated, or even in many instances, encouraged, since it was believed that it would harden the younger boys, allowing them to become stronger and be able to stand up for themselves. Those most promising and loyal boys in the organization became candidates to join the Schutzstaffel (SS), while others identified with leadership abilities were sent to special academies run by the Hitler Youth to train future military officers.

The League of German Girls became more so in the mainstream in 1933 when the Nazi Party came into power. In 1934, Trude Mohr was placed in charge of the league, hence allowing the group more autonomy from Schirach’s top management. In 1937, Mohr became married thus became ineligible for the position. Mohr succeeded by Dr. Jutta Rüdiger, a doctor of Psychology, who remained its head until 1945. The league focused on the grooming of girls and young women to become proper women of the Nazi society, though education and training aspects of the program was also significant. The girls actually received a greater variety of education than the boys, since the boys were trained largely only in the fields useful for military service. In 1938, a voluntary branch called Glaube und Schönheit, or Belief and Beauty, was established to specifically prepare women between the age of 17 and 21 for raising families. By 1939, all ethnic German girls were required to join. Before the establishment of the League of German Girls, few girls traveled without their families, and activities such as hiking and camping were frowned upon by the conservative society. The league gave girls and young women exposure to more things than ever before, thus it was very popular, and the Nazi Party in turn used it successfully as a tool of indoctrination.

In 1940, Arthur Axmann took over the responsibility of running the Hitler Youth, which by this time had 90% of German youth in its membership. As the European War had already begun, Axmann focused on reforming the 8,000,000-strong organization so that the children could directly aid war efforts. Early in the war, boys served in postal and firefighting roles, but as the war went on many of them took on more demanding roles such as being members of anti-aircraft gun crews. In 1941, Axmann authorized the policy requiring all German boys over the age of 10 to join the Hitler Youth. As Allied bombing of German cities became more frequent, many boys and girls also became critical elements in the efforts to deliver food and supplies to the displaced. By 1943, the Hitler Youth took on a direct role as a military reserve force with the establishment of the 12 SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend under the command of SS-Brigadeführer Fritz Witt and later SS-Standartenführer Kurt Meyer. The unit was a fully equipped Waffen-SS armored division with adult officers and enlisted men between 16 and 18 years of age. This division was stationed in Normandy, France in mid-1944 and encountered Allied troops; American, British, and Canadian soldiers recalled their ferocity and unquestioning loyalty to Nazi Germany, making these boys some of the toughest opponents the Allied soldiers had faced. As the war went on, boys as young as 10 were placed into the Hitler Youth, and by 1945, it was common to see 12-year-old boys serving in Volkssturm units. When Berlin was surrounded by Russian forces, a significant part of the defense of Berlin was conducted by Volkssturm units with sizeable Hitler Youth members.

The girls of the Hitler Youth, or specifically of the League of German Girls, did not serve as directly as the boys at first. They collected donations, gathered old clothing, collected scrap metal, prepared care packages to the soldiers in the front lines, and alongside of boys helped to distribute food and water to those displaced by Allied bombing. As war demands increased, however, their contributions to the war effort also took on a more direct role. Many of the older girls were transferred into Red Cross nurse training programs, learning hands on at aid stations treating civilians wounded by Allied bombing. By late-1943, many of them received military training and were transferred to the Luftwaffe, the German air force, and served as Flak Helpers or searchlight operators. An unknown number of girls served in Volkssturm units in the final days of the war, although this was not officially ordered by Rüdiger or the senior leaders at the Hitler Youth.

After the war, the Allied occupation forces disbanded the Hitler Youth. Most young leaders of the group were not charged with war crimes, even if there were evidence, as they were children. Despite membership being compulsory, thus nearly all children of the period were Hitler Youth members, many prominent post-war leaders were still scrutinized over their membership. For example, the media placed Pope Benedict XVI in the center of attention for his membership in the Hitler Youth between 1941 and 1943.

A young girl dressed in what is probably her father’s uniform smiles for the camera. Women could be only SS auxiliaries, not full members. The insignia on the cap indicates that the owner belonged to the SS Totenkopf Division, the most brutal and feared of the SS. If her father, or any family member, was SS, the girl undoubtedly belonged to the Bund Deutscher Mädel, or League of German Girls, the female only analogue of the Hitlerjugend, or Hitler Youth.

2

HISTORY MEME - WORLD VERSION ♛ [06/06] women : Sophie Scholl (1921 - 1943)

German student and revolutionary. At the age of twelve, she chose to join the Bund Deutscher Mädel (League of German Girls), as did most of her classmates, but her initial enthusiasm gradually gave way to criticism. She was aware of the dissenting political views of her father, of friends, and also of some teachers. Political attitude had become an essential criterion in her choice of friends. The arrest of her brothers and friends in 1937 for participating in the German Youth Movement left a strong impression on her. Her firm Christian belief in God and in every human being’s essential dignity formed her basis for resisting Nazi ideology. In spring 1941 she began a six-month stint in the auxiliary war service as a nursery teacher in Blumberg. The military-like regimen of the Labor Service caused her to think very hard about the political situation as well as to begin practicing passive resistance. After her six months in the National Labor Service, in May 1942, she enrolled at the University of Munich as a student of biology and philosophy. Her brother Hans, who was studying medicine there, introduced her to his friends. Although this group of friends eventually was known for their political views, they initially were drawn together by a shared love of art, music, literature, philosophy, and theology. The question they pondered the most was how the individual must act under a dictatorship. During the summer vacation in 1942, Scholl had to do war service in a metallurgical plant in Ulm. At the same time, her father was serving time in prison for having made a critical remark to an employee about Hitler. The White Rose was founded after Scholl and others read a stern anti-Nazi sermon by Clemens August Graf von Galen (the “Lion of Münster”), the Roman Catholic Bishop of Münster. The core members initially included Hans Scholl (Sophie’s brother), Willi Graf, and Christoph Probst. In early summer 1942, this group of young men co-authored six anti-Nazi political resistance leaflets. Contrary to popular belief, Sophie Scholl was not a co-author of the articles. Initially her brother had been keen to keep her unaware of their activities, but once she discovered them, she joined him and proved valuable to the group because as a woman, her chances of being randomly stopped by the SS were much smaller. Calling themselves The White Rose, they instructed Germans to passively resist the Nazis. She and the rest of the White Rose were arrested for distributing the sixth leaflet at the University of Munich on 18 February 1943. On 22 February 1943, Scholl, her brother Hans, and their friend Christoph Probst were found guilty of treason and condemned to death. They were all beheaded by a guillotine by executioner Johann Reichhart in Munich’s Stadelheim Prison only a few hours later, at 17:00 hrs. Prison officials, in later describing the scene, emphasized the courage with which she walked to her execution. Her last words were : How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause. Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?