In the last two years there have been many questions asked of the
Memories panel by schoolchildren about WWII. Mostly they were concerned
with what was it like to be under a bomb attack, a concentration camp or
what were ones feelings to specific actions during WWII. Very few
questions have been raised on the everyday life of children and their
parents during that time. No one has ever asked what was life like on a
rationbook or what sort of clubs or youth organizations children during
the war years could or had to join.
One of the 'had' to join organizations was the Hitler Youth (Hitler Jugend) which was the Nazi Party organisation for boys and the Bund Deutcher Maedel (BDM) was the equivalent for girls.
I grew up in Vienna, Austria and when I reached ten years of age in 1943 I like any other child had to report ready to join the junior version of the local group of the BDM (Jungmaedel, boys between 10-14 years were called Pimpf). Woe to any child which did not report as it was compulsory and disobedience could lead to a labour camp.
I had to fill in a form containing amongst other details who were my parents, grandparents, great grandparents and their religious beliefs. Now my great grandparents on my fathers side were Jews and as soon as this was noticed I was told that I was not good enough to join up, but if ever necessary they would get in touch with me. If my memory serves me right I was somewhat upset by this because it made me different from the other kids my age.
My parents were rather relieved that it did not lead to any worse trouble and for nearly two years I put it completely out of my mind. But after the first month or two in 1945 ( I am sorry I can't remember the exact time) I got an official letter telling me to report to my local branch of the Hitler Youth and after consultation with my father I decided to ignore it.
My fathers wish suited me fine since I really didnt want to go anywhere else except school because of the ever present air raids. After a couple of weeks a second letter came which I hid from my parents hoping that I would be forgotten.
But than came the momentuous day when to my poor mothers shock I was picked up from home and was made to join. I only went a couple of times and than the group was disbanded. The young leaders of that group had to join the army and we were told that as soon 'Our glorious Fuehrer' had won the war we would be regrouped. To this day I still remember the relief I felt when the war ended and with it came the end of the Hitler Youth and the BDM.
Lotte has written other stories about her childhood :
Lotte is a member of the MEMORIES Panel of Elders. You can click here to write to her.