Tuesday 17 January 2017

Seminar 3 The House on Schellberg Street

You will find it easier to follow this is you have read the book The House on Schellberg Street  

The German girls’ story

Hard times

Why was life so hard in Germany for these girls?
·         The 1930s were hard for most of the world.
·         Germany had lost World War I (The Great War). This made things even worse in Germany. 
·         The girls were born just after the hyperinflation in Germany during the 1920s. They may well have had siblings who remembered it. Their parents certainly would have done.  Imagine: you have to spend what you are paid as so as you can before it loses value.
·         Their parents were damaged by war. 
·         When World War II starts it get even worse.  
Read some extracts about this.  Try:
Helga, 18 February 1939 
Imagine what it must have been like for the girls. As well as what they mention remember also that they had no internet, no moblie phones and no social media. Most of their news in fact came via the round robin letter. They couldn‘t buy sweet, chocolate and other snacks as easily as we can.
To do:
Read some of extracts mentioned above and write a short letter or a diary entry as if you were one of the girls.     

The BDM – Bund Deutscher Mädel

The girls would certainly have been members of this group. This was compulsory for girls aged 14 and above. You can get a flavour of what it was like by studying their magazine – see cope here: http://research.calvin.edu/german-propaganda-archive/maedel.htm
Things to bear in mind:
·         This smart uniform and interesting club came at a time when there was  shortage of money and a lot on unemployment.
·         It taught the girls a lot about homemaking.
·         It made the girls feel as if they were doing their bit towards making Germany great again.
You can also see some of the unifroms here:  

To do:
Write a letter or a diary entry about your first visit to the BDM.  Talk about some of the activities you did, what the other girls were like and how much you like your uniform.

The Reichsarbeitsdienst

This was compulodory work experience for young German women, from 1935 onwards.  Often they would work on farms but not as Land Girls as we had in Britian.  They would take over the houeshold chores and childcare whilst the farmer’s wife carried on looking after the farm.
If they had attended one of the special schools that trained them in domstic duties, they only had toi do six months RAD.  
You can read about this in the follwing extracts from Th House on Schellberg Street.
Hani, 19 April 1940
The girls’ letters generally form 1942 onwards give quite a good idea of the work they did, even if they don’t mention the word RAD.   
You can also read more about it here:  http://www.feldgrau.com/rad.html
To do:
Pretend you are another German girl and write a letter or diary entry about your RAD.

The Kriegshilfsdienst

This was tagged on to the end of the RAD and often involved similar work but also could sometimes be more closley related to the war. Girls were often invovled in:
·         Working in munitions factories
·         Looking after hospital supplies
·         Looking after the post
·         Working a telephone exchange  
Here are some examples from The House on Schellberg Street:
Hani, 19 April 1940
Charlotte 18 August 1943
Anika 22 October 1943

Two themes came out in the original letters I read:
1.      Camaraderie
2.      Duty
Are these worthy qualities or is this Nazi propaganda?  What is good about this? What is less good?
In groups make two lists.

Would you like this as a handy PDF?  Download it here. 


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