Wednesday 21 December 2011

Das Deutsche Mädel 1933-1942

This is the magazine that was produced for the BDM. The BDM History site has several copies of this available online, as well as many other primary resources and much other useful information.
Basic Content
At first glance, the magazine has much to recommend it and could be considered of equal merit to the type of text produced for the scouting movement. Typically in each issue there are:
  • Articles about nature
  • Impressive photography, though it is always black and white
  • Articles about extraordinary women
  • Features about craft
  • Instructions about household tasks
  • Reports from other BDM members – always presented anonymously
  • Reports about young women at work
  • A special section for the Jungmädel (girls 10-14)
  • A story (usually suitable for younger readers)
  • Articles about women from other countries  
  • Recommended books
  • Advertising - aimed at young women and rather emphasising the housewifely duties
This seems quite innocent at first and we might even be surprised that the publication partly looks outwards.
Changes during the war
As soon as the war started the publication became thinner. It used to go up to 40 pages.  After September 1939 it was rarely above 26. Before the war there were regional editions.  As the war started a single issue was produced for all parts of Germany.
More sinister aspects of the publication
Every issue started off with some Nazi rhetoric and encouragement to perform duties.  I noticed too in the girls’ letters that I have that the words “duty” and “camaraderie” are used a lot. These also appear in the magazines. These seem worthy qualities, but it does rather depend on in which context the girls are encouraged to perform duty and in which circumstances they are encouraged to show camaraderie.
The Nazi rhetoric gradually becomes more pronounced and takes up more space.  Also, in later editions within this range we see more and more pictures of the rallies and the sporting events. There is a subtle suggestion that weakness will not be tolerated.
The girls appear to be liberated: they are given much encouragement to work outside the home and be independent form their families. However, the advertising reinforces the homemaker role. The girls are being encouraged to be housewives to the Fatherland.
The recommended books support Nazi idealism.
Parents are encouraged to support the advertisers who are in effect sponsoring the magazine.
As the war progresses, the magazine produces a series of articles about the nature of the English. In some ways these are quite respectful – the English are seen as being very tolerant.  However, it soon becomes clear that tolerance is not a quality the Nazis admire and we are rather mocked for it.
Some examples
The cover of the October 1936 is rather ominous and there are six pages of photographs of the Nuremberg rallies.
January1937 quotes form the new race laws that were passed in Nuremberg in 1935. The concept of the young women being part of a work force becomes important here and there is an article about nursing skills.  
September1937 seems to emphasize the place of women in the home.  
June 1938 brings much information about the rallies and strengthens a link with Spain.
October1939 is a much shorter magazine and the photography does not seem so good.  
March1941 recommends that girls concentrate on school in the mornings, BDM activities and families in the afternoons, and confirms that all camps should take place in holiday times. This would actually promote “Nazification”; by now all schools taught Nazi ideology and the girls would also be encountering it in their “free” time.      
October1941 brings a startling change of font for many of the articles though some of the old script is still used for one or two articles.   

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