This is just a short, general overview of the League of German Girls' peacetime work for scholars and researchers. For more in-depth information, please check the pages under the "peacetime work" section of the menu on the left.
In the nine years between the official inception of the League of German Girls and the outbreak of World War Two, the BDM's function was very similar to that of our modern-day girl scout groups. While actual scouting and pathfinder groups as well as religious youth groups no longer officially existed - they had been disbanded or dissolved and their membership amalgamated into the Hitler Youth - their activities remained similar and included the following:
→ The Sports Afternoon
The sports afternoon was usually held at the same time and day each week, normally on Wednesdays, and under the supervision of the local group leaders. While the physical training did not play such an important role in the League of German Girls as it did in the male Hitler Youth, regular sports were still an important part of the program.
The sports afternoon usually included athletics, such as
track and field, but also calisthenics, and gymnastics. Local groups also formed clubs and teams based on what was available to them in
terms of geographical availability or in terms of sports facilities that they were allowed to use. For example, groups near a river might
offer a rowing team, while groups in the towns that had access to the local soccer field were more likely to offer soccer or field hockey,
and groups in the city that had to make due with indoor sports facilities might offer tennis or fencing.
→ The Social Evening
The weekly group meeting that was held separate from the sports afternoon was called the Heimatabend, or social evening, and was generally held on a Saturday evening or afternoon.
The local group would meet at their club room, which was often a room of the local Nazi party building, or a room in the school house or community center, for an evening of singing, games, or arts and crafts.
The social evenings were planned and led by the local BDM leaders and
widely by the interests and talents of those leaders. Leaders were sent
materials to use for these evenings, such as booklets and schedules, but not
all leaders actually used them. Some girls experienced boring political lessons, while others spend a lot of time
learning new songs or playing music.
→ Organized Trips
One of the most popular aspects of service in the League of German Girls were the organized trips the organization offered the girls. People back then did not generally have the opportunity to get in their car and drive across the country to see sights, and organized day trips to local or regional sights were a big hits. Day trips were organized at least once a month during summer.
Many trips consisted of a short hike or bus ride to get to other transportation such as ships - trips on the major rivers of Germany were very popular - or trains, or to get out into the countryside. If the trip lasted more than one day, the groups spent the night either at a youth hostel or in the barn of a local farmer.
Sometimes BDM girls were also able to meet youth groups from other countries, such as Sweden or Spain, and to spend time with them in
summer camps, or visit them in their home country. The Hitler Youth was one of the first youth organizations to seek friendship with other
youth groups in foreign countries, which had been almost entirely unheard of previously.
→ Summer Camp
Camp gave many girls an opportunity to spend time away from home during their summer break from school, and to meet others their own age. Unlike nowadays, young girls didn't generally travel during their vacation, especially not without their parents, and camp gave them an opportunity to experience new things, see other places, and make friends. Many of the friendships forged at BDM camps have lasted them through the end of the war and for many years thereafter.
→ Festivals and Competitions
Just like girl scouts nowadays, girls back then could earn proficiency badges (merit badges) if they performed well, and there were plenty of opportunities for them to prove themselves within the structure of the BDM and to win awards - youth festivals, as well as music, education and sports competitions were held regularly on local, regional, as well as national levels.
→ The Winter Relief
Besides the activities mentioned above, one of the main activities of the League of German Girls was to collect money and supplies to support the Winter Relief, which provided poorer families with supplies of winter shoes, warm clothing, and heating materials to help them through the winter.
BDM girls collected money on the street, but also through the sale of goods, such as little flags, or Tinnies. Girls also collected for the NSV and other organizations.
→ The National Job Competition
The League of German Girls placed importance in job training, and many girls had opportunities to learn jobs that they found through their organization that would not otherwise have been offered to them.
BDM girls also participated in the Reichsberufwettkampf,
a national vocational competition, where they competed against other girls and boys from all over the country in a variety of different
categories of job skills. In the process, a girl would become qualified for a job and especially talented girls were supported in their
job of choice through a scholarship program.
→ Other Activities
Local and regional groups also offered other activities that varied from location to location. Some groups had orchestras, or dance groups, others offered first aid courses or training in job skills. Some would offer fencing, skiing, or even glider piloting or sailing.
Much of the time, such additional activities were dependent on the area a girl lived in - in mountainous areas, skiing and mountain climbing could be offered; on a river, girls could join a rowing or swimming team, and on the coast girls were more likely to be offered sailing.