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Growing Up Female in Nazi Germany

Dagmar Reese, Translated by William Templer

Publication Year: 2006

Growing Up Female in Nazi Germany explores the world of the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM), the female section within the Hitler Youth that included almost all German girls aged 10 to 14. The BDM is often enveloped in myths; German girls were brought up to be the compliant handmaidens of National Socialism, their mental horizon restricted to the "three Ks" of Kinder, Küche, Kirche (children, kitchen, and church). Dagmar Reese, however, depicts another picture of life in the BDM. She explores how and in what way the National Socialists were successful in linking up with the interests of contemporary girls and young women and providing them a social life of their own. The girls in the BDM found latitude for their own development while taking on responsibilities that integrated them within the folds of the National Socialist state. "At last available in English, this pioneering study provides fresh insights into the ways in which the Nazi regime changed young 'Aryan' women's lives through appeals to female self-esteem that were not obviously defined by Nazi ideology, but drove a wedge between parents and children. Thoughtful analysis of detailed interviews reveals the day-to-day functioning of the Third Reich in different social milieus and its impact on women's lives beyond 1945. A must-read for anyone interested in the gendered dynamics of Nazi modernity and the lack of sustained opposition to National Socialism." --Uta Poiger, University of Washington "In this highly readable translation, Reese provocatively identifies Nazi girls league members' surprisingly positive memories and reveals significant implications for the functioning of Nazi society. Reaching across disciplines, this work is for experts and for the classroom alike." --Belinda Davis, Rutgers University Dagmar Reese is The Moses Mendelssohn Zentrum Potsdam researcher on the DFG-project "Georg Simmels Geschlechtertheorien im ‚fin de siecle' Berlin", 2004 William Templer is a widely published translator from German and Hebrew and is on the staff of Rajamangala University of Technology Srivijaya.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Series: Social History, Popular Culture, and Pol

Title Page

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pp. iii


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pp. iv


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pp. vii

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pp. viii

The publication of this study in English goes back in particular to the interest of Geoff Eley in seeing this project come to fruition. I would like to express my great gratitude for his unflagging support in its...

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pp. 1-19

Beginning in the mid-1930s, the Hitler Youth emerged as the largest single formation of the National Socialist Party. It claimed to embrace all of German youth.1 The organization was headed by Baldur von...

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CHAPTER 1: "The Path of the German Girl"

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pp. 21-26

Contrary to what one would expect, the "Aryan"required an unprecedented degree of "pedagogical" influence in order to unfold his or her "natural" superiority. The 'members of the master race" were surrounded by an...

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CHAPTER 2: A Thumbnail Sketch of the History of the League of German Girls

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pp. 27-40

National Socialist organizations for girls came into being within the framework of the National Socialist youth organization, inside the women's associations, and later likewise as an alliance of National...

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CHAPTER 3: Ideology and Practice of Organizing Girls in the League of German Girls

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pp. 41-101

Writing in 1937 in a key publication that was to influence the ideology of the League of German Girls, Trude Burkner, Reich representative of the league, summarized the guiding ideals of National Socialist...

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CHAPTER 4: A Study in Local History: Minden in Westphalia

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pp. 102-157

On his trip through Germany in 1844, later immortalized in his book Germany: A Winter's Tale, the poet Heinrich Heine paid a visit to Minden. Then still ringed by moats and bastions, this small Westphalian...

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CHAPTER 5: A Study in Local History: Wedding

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pp. 158-246

On October 1, 1920, the Law on the Creation of the Unitary Community of Greater Berlin became effective; it spliced together eight cities, fifty - nine rural communities, and twenty-seven estate...

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pp. 247-251

The point of departure for this study was to try to grasp the attempt between 1933 and 1945 to forcibly organize girls within a National Socialist organization external to the schools. The general question...

APPENDIX A: The Structure of the Hitler Youth

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pp. 253

APPENDIX B: The Path of the German Girl

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pp. 254

APPENDIX C: Interview Partners

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pp. 255-256

Glossary and Abbreviations

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pp. 257-260


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pp. 261-281


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pp. 283-287

Image Plates

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pp. 288-295

E-ISBN-13: 9780472025183
E-ISBN-10: 047202518X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472069385
Print-ISBN-10: 0472069381

Page Count: 306
Illustrations: 6 B&W photos, 2 Maps, 2 Tables
Publication Year: 2006

Series Title: Social History, Popular Culture, and Pol