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  1. #1

    Bund deutscher Mädel in Shanghai and Madrid

    Was looking through a mid-1935 copy of the BDM magazine 'Das deutsche Mädel' today and came across a little section containing a couple of letters from BDM members in Madrid and Shanghai who were corresponding with BDM back in the Reich. Thought it might be of interest to some of you so I translated it. Here goes:

    Auslandsdeutsche schreiben

    It is not only the girls within the Reich who are committed to the Führers idea. There are german girls living abroad and in the countries which share a border with Germany who are also filled with the same spirit and will that we have. These girls are usually a part of German associations and clubs as opposed to being organised into units but they have the same attitude as us. How a country and its people approach life and work differs from place to place and the following two letters which were sent to Obergau Sachsen and Berlin respectively serve to demonstrate this.

    A BDM leader from Madrid wrote the following to a BDM group in Leipzig:

    Dear girls,

    Ive just returned from a trip to Andalusia and the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco. It was so wonderful there that I can hardly put it into words. The palm trees, the strange colourful flowers, the clear-blue sky and the sea! I cant do it justice in just a couple of sentences but Ill tell you all about it when I come to Germany.

    A lot has changed in Madrid since I last wrote. After much work and countless promises we now have a BDM here too. What do you think about that? I started off with a handful of girls in the Deutscher Turnverein (German Gymnastics Association) in Madrid. I explained the situation faced by the Hitler Youth, I told them about Herbert Norkus, Erika Jordan and about the aims of the BDM. There were so many questions and the time just flew by. Things are very different here though of course and life is made very difficult for the girls compared to the situation in Germany. We are still fighting a battle here! Only those who have complete conviction in Adolf Hitlers idea come to us - and stay.

    We cant wear uniform of course and it is forbidden to wear membership badges in public but when we hold our meetings we wear the badge. The meetings have the same format as yours in Germany with the exception that much more emphasis has to be placed on giving the girls (we have 20 so far) a deeper understanding of Germany. You girls probably cant imagine how it is never to have seen Germany save for the odd holiday.

    Can you imagine - we cant go on camps as you do in Germany as there are no forests here, we cant march behind our pennant. Imagine holding a meeting and singing German songs and then going outside and finding that you are in a lively spanish street.. Its all a little odd but the girls work hard and give assistance wherever they can and all of this serves to further strengthen the bond between us.

    Sometimes a girl will come just to listen but it isnt long before she joins us. Everyone knows me in the german school here and in the majority of cases the parents fully support us. Many of them are party members and are very pleased to see that the girls finally have the opportunity to support the movement.

    We desperately need german books and newspapers. You wouldnt believe how happy it would make us if you were able to send some! We are all looking forward to your next letter as reading them is always the nicest part of our meetings because they tell us about Germany. Heil Hitler!

    Those were the experiences of a girl from Madrid. From a completely different environment but one which also shares the same drive and desire we now have have a report from a Shanghai Jungmädel. She wrote the following to Obergau Berlin:

    Dear comrades!

    The HJ Standort Shanghai was raised in December 1933. This made it the first Standort in the whole of China. Further Standorte were raised soon after in Tsingtao, Tientsin and Hankow but by virtue of its large german community Shanghai remains the largest.

    At the moment we have 65 girls in total and they are organised into three BDM Mädelschaften and three Jungmädelschaften. These dont of course have the same strength as the units back home in Germany. Tientsin has a mädelschaft and a Jungmädelschaft - Hankow and Tsingtau a Jungmädelschaft each.

    Now to the point of this letter: at our meeting today we decided to let our comrades in the Reich know what the Shanghai HJ has been up to and also a little about China in general. To this end we chose two girls who would write to you and Im one of the two.

    Well, what might you most be interested in? I think it best to start with something I saw a couple of minutes ago on my way home. I live on the very edge of the city and near our house there is a village. I watched some boys playing football just now. Do you know something? As goalposts they used four washing baskets. Two other boys were flying kites. Each area here has a different design and in ours the kites take the form of birds of prey. In the city the kites are square with three long tails. In the outlying villages one often sees caterpillar kites to which lanterns are attached in the evenings. It looks great.

    When I make the 30 minute bike ride to the german school every morning I pass a few run-down huts and some ancient chinese burial mounds but it doesnt take long before Im in the city. Its incredibly dirty but with its skyscrapers, shops and cinemas it is very similar to a european city.

    You cant drink water from the taps here or bite into a apple without cleaning it first. Water must be boiled because if you dont and then drink it you might catch typhus.

    Yes, school! We have a german school here and we recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. The school curriculum is exactly the same as in the Reich but when we are out in the garden for sport there are always around 100 Chinese staring at us through the fence. They are mostly rickshaw coolies, street sellers and messengers.

    The coolies know every pupil and at the end of the school day they offer their services to those pupils who they think will pay the most. They will sometimes follow you for ages. The Chinese are strange people - everything is the wrong way around. Vehicles drive on the left, the colour of mourning is white and a really strange thing is that the boys wear skirts and the girls trousers. Wierd isnt it?

    Its not easy to write about China when you live here. We see the chinese way of life every day and we hardly notice when a funeral procession passes us with its loud music or when a street entertainer shows his tricks.

    Anyway, lets talk about the HJ. I think everything is the same here as it is in Germany. We have meetings, we sing, hike and we learn folk dances. We used to have a lot of contact with children from other european countries living here and there was no real cohesion between the Germans. There is now though and if you want to see the Shanghai Hitler-Jugend just come to the Deutsche Eck!

    We go on a hike every second Sunday now and when were on the move we play games which the Chinese seem to enjoy greatly. They laugh themselves half to death when they see us crawling through ditches. Not long to go now before the big camp in Wusich. Yippee. Were all really looking forward to it.

    Wusich is situated near to the largest lake in the area, Taihu lake, which is half-way to Nanking so about 150km from here. Unfortunately we have to take the train as the motorway which was recently opened still isnt completely finished. Actually it is barely useable. About two hours ago we tested the road but had to turn back after 500m. Over half of the road is just sand. The materials are brought in small loads by truck and as soon as a section of road is finished it is quickly ruined by the constant traffic. There is never enough time for the road to harden and the finished section has the consistency of porridge. So, we have no option but to endure the long journey by train.

    We hold a BDM cookery class every wednesday and I can now cook vegetable soup, potato soup and the ever popular noodle soup.

    I just read through this letter and Im not sure whether you have learned much about our life here in China. Perhaps Im being too general but as a consolation you can look forward to my next letter. By then we will have returned from Wusich and Ill be sure to write something about that.

    I think that if you say to yourselves that there are german girls in distant China who have the same strong feelings for our Germany as you then you you must feel very proud and happy - as proud and happy as we are to carry out our duty.

    Best wishes to all comrades and a cheerful Heil Hitler!

    From a Shanghai Jungmädel

  2. #2

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    Absolututely fascinating Garry


  3. #3
    Cheers Nick. These magazines are a great source of info. Of course, they portray the movement in a perfect light and are themselves propaganda but the information they contain is excellent. I'll try to get more translations posted over the next week or so.

  4. #4

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    That will be great Garry, I look forward to them


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