This is quite a hard concept to understand, especially when we look at it very closely. Everyone has a right to hold beliefs and to try to persuade others of them. Sometimes though this can become very manipulative. We don’t see all that much of it in the novel, but we can assume that Renate and Kathe Edler and Clara Lehrs suffered because of it. Gisela, BDM leader, certainly understand the Nazi doctrine that the Jew is the enemy of the people.We might expect to see evidence of indoctrination in the German girls’ letters but we actually find only a little. They have a strong sense of duty and enjoy camaraderie. These are two words used quite often in Nazi propaganda. Yet they are not traits we would want to condemn.
The BDM had its own magazine, Das Deutsche Mädel. It seems a useful publication. Each edition contains an article about nature, excellent black and white photos, articles about older girls working, a story with a moral (where perhaps a little propaganda is slipped in), an article about an outstanding woman, household tips, craft articles, book reviews and a song. Each edition is supported by the type of advertising one would see in a woman’s magazine. Some of the material we would not worry about. However when we look a little more closely at the songs, the books that are being recommended, the large photos of Hitler and girls at the rallies and some of the editorial articles we may well have cause for concern.
Membership of the BDM was compulsory. Purchasing the Deutsche Mädel was not. However, this magazine presents NAZI doctrine. Asking the girls to read it was a form of indoctrination. Many of the ideas are repeated until they become a mantra.
We see the worst cases of indoctrination in some girls who went on to be concentration and death camp guards having been trained into Nazi thinking when they were with the BDM.
Food for thought:
Should we ban publications like the Deutsche Mädel now?
Why do you think the Deutsche Mädel was enjoyed by so many girls?
Think of a magazine that you like to read today. Is it “indoctrinating” you in any way?