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Bund Deutscher Mädel- League of German Girls
The League of German Girls or (cognate) Band of German Maidens (German: Bund Deutscher Mädel, abbreviated BDM) was the girls’ wing of the Nazi Party youth movement, the Hitler Youth. It was the only female youth organization in Nazi Germany.
At first, the League consisted of two sections: the Jungmädel, or Young Girls’ League, for girls ages 10 to 14, and the League proper for girls ages 14 to 18. In 1938, a third section was introduced, the Faith and Beauty Society (BDM-Werk Glaube und Schönheit), which was voluntary and open to girls between the ages of 17 and 21.
With the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945, the organization de facto ceased to exist. On 10 October 1945, it was outlawed by the Allied Control Council along with other Nazi Party organizations. Under Section 86 of the German Criminal Code, the Hitler Youth is an “unconstitutional organization” and the distribution or public use of its symbols, except for educational or research purposes, are not permitted.
HIAG – Mutual Help Association of Former Armed Protection Members
Hilfsgemeinschaft auf Gegenseitigkeit der Angehörigen der ehemaligen Waffen-SS (HIAG) (English: Mutual Help Association of Former Armed Protection Members) was a German World War II veteran’s organization founded in 1951 by former officers of the Waffen-SS.
The HIAG was established by former SS-Brigadeführer and Major general of the Waffen-SS Otto Kumm. A “tradition-bound association” by its own admission, the main aims of the organisation were to provide assistance to veterans, and campaign for the rehabilitation of their legal status with respect to veterans’ pensions. Unlike soldiers of the regular Wehrmacht armed forces, pensions had been denied to members of the Waffen-SS as a result of that organisation having been declared criminal in the aftermath of the Second World War.
In 1959 former SS-Brigadeführer and Major general Kurt Meyer became HIAG spokesman. He publicly denied a relativisation of Nazi crimes, nevertheless several notable association members like Otto Kumm, Josef Dietrich, Richard Schulze-Kossens or Gustav Lombard were convicted war criminals. No former troop leader was ever debarred for the involvement in SS-Totenkopfverbände or Sicherheitsdienst (SD) atrocities.
At its height in the 1960s around 8% of the approximately 250,000 former Waffen-SS members living in West Germany were members of HIAG. Temporarily monitored by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution as a far-right organisation, it aimed to shape the public awareness of the Waffen-SS as a regular contending army or even as elite troops, along with militarism and historical revisionism.
During the 1980s, political antagonism towards the organisation grew and it was finally disbanded under its last chairman Hubert Meyer in 1992. However, its periodical Der Freiwillige (The Volunteer), initially issued by Erich Kern, is published up to today.
Kinderlandverschickung – Relocation Camps
The KLV effort (sending children into camps in the countryside) can be traced back over 100 years when German churches in the 1800’s sent children to outlying rural regions for rest and relaxation purposes. During the Weimar Republic, KLV efforts were espoused by many German political parties; strongly by the SPD. Children either remained in special camps or they were lodged with individual families.
In the fall of 1940, German political leaders anticipated that British bombers would increase their bombing missions over Germany greatly in the near future. As with British evacuation efforts, the Germans too planned to evacuate as many small children as possible to rural areas; to get them out of harms way. In this instance, the old KLV efforts were the answer.
On September 26th, 1940, Hitler ordered Baldur von Schirach to organize a comprehensive Kinderlandverschickung (KLV) effort for the whole German Reich.
Von Schirach had to start from scratch. Although the German Luftschutz and Red Cross organizations were prepared to deal with an air war directed against German cities – no one had foreseen the need to evacuate children into the surrounding rural areas (1939 Westwall evacuation excepted). Von Schirach issued his first decree regarding the KLV program on September 27th, 1940.
For this effort, the German government requisitioned appropriate quarters for children from inn/hotel keepers as well as farmers and private homeowners (they were compensated under the Reichsleitungsgesetz of 01 September 1939). The Deutsche Reichsbahn (DR) facilitated with all movement needs and the Agriculture and Foodstuffs Ministry arranged for extra food rations to be delivered to the affected communities. The evacuation was free of charge; the needed funds were made available at the federal level. Of note is that the evacuation effort was on a voluntary basis.
BDM youths played an instrumental role in the evacuation efforts of 1940/1941. They helped thousands of mothers and their small children pack, move and relocate out of harms way as quickly as possible under the existing conditions.
Initially, the evacuation of children applied only to Berlin and Hamburg. Between September and November of 1940, over 200.000 small children were evacuated from Berlin alone. KLV camps were as hard on mothers as they were on children. While every effort was made to make each guest feel like they were at home – they were not at home, they were in a camp. In many cases, the rules and regulations of the KLV camps were places where camp administrators could play “power politics” with mothers and children.
In addition to the use of requisitioned rooms and homes, the KLV also established a number of special evacuation camps. These camps contained schools, medical facilities, dining facilities, etc. Both HJ and BDM youths helped to run the KLV camps.
After the defeat of the German military forces at Stalingrad, Germany was forced to begin evacuating the evacuation camps it had established in its far rear areas; such as those, which were established in Bulgaria and Romania. New KLV camps were erected in Bohemia and Moravia, which was thought to be a safer area. Both the Soviet and the western Allied forces overran many of the KLV camps in the last months of the war.
National Socialist Teachers League
The National Socialist Teachers League (German: Nationalsozialistische Lehrerbund, NSLB), was established on 21 April 1929. Its original name was the Organization of National Socialist Educators. Its founder and first leader was former schoolteacher and Bayreuth Gauleiter Hans Schemm. The organization was based in Bayreuth at the House of German Education. On October 27, 1938 the NSLB opened its own Realschule for teacher training in Bayreuth.
After Schemm’s death in 1935, the new leader, or Reichswalter, was Fritz Wächtler.
This organization saw itself as “the common effort of all persons who saw themselves as teachers or wanted to be seen as educators, independently from background or education and from the type of educational institution”. Its goal was to make the National Socialist worldview and foundation of all education and especially of schooling. In order to achieve this it sought to have an effect on the political viewpoint of educators, insisting on the further development of their spirit along Nationalsocialist lines. Organized mountain excursions in places called Reichsaustauschlager (Exchange Camps of the Reich) were perceived as helping in this purpose.
The organization was dissolved in 1943 by the financial administration of the NSDAP.
Reichsarbeitsdienst – RAD – Reich Labor Service
The Reichsarbeitsdienst (translated to Reich Labour Service, abbreviated RAD) was a major organisation established by Nazi Germany as an agency to help mitigate the effects of mass unemployment on German economy, militarise the workforce and indoctrinate it with Nazi ideology.
From June 1935 onwards, men aged between 18 and 24 had to serve six months before their military service. During World War II compulsory service also included young women and the RAD developed to an auxiliary formation which provided support for the Wehrmacht armed forces.
Sicherheitsdienst – SD
Sicherheitsdienst (German: [ˈzɪçɐhaɪtsˌdiːnst], Security Service), full title Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers-SS (English: Security Service of the Reichsführer-SS), or SD, was the intelligence agency of the SS and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. The organization was the first Nazi Party intelligence organization to be established and was considered a sister organization with the Gestapo, which the SS had infiltrated heavily after 1934. Between 1933 and 1939, the SD was administered as an independent SS office, after which it was transferred to the authority of the Reich Main Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt; RSHA), as one of its seven departments/offices. Its first director, Reinhard Heydrich, intended for the SD to bring every single individual within the Third Reich’s reach under “continuous supervision.”
Following Germany’s defeat in World War II, the SD was declared a criminal organisation at the Nuremberg Trials, along with the rest of Heydrich’s RSHA (including the Gestapo) both individually and as branches of the SS in the collective. Heydrich’s successor, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg trials, sentenced to death and hanged in 1946.
Sudetendeutsches Freikorps (Sudeten German Free Corps, also known as the Freikorps Sudetenland, Freikorps Henlein and Sudetendeutsche Legion) was a paramilitary Nazi organization founded on 17 September 1938 in Germany on direct order of Adolf Hitler. The organization was composed mainly of ethnic German citizens of Czechoslovakia with pro-Nazi sympathies who were sheltered, trained and equipped by German authorities and who were conducting cross border terrorist operations into Czechoslovak territory from 1938 to 1939. They played important part in Hitler’s successful effort to occupy Czechoslovakia and annex the region known as Sudetenland into the Third Reich under Nazi Germany.
Sudetendeutsches Freikorps was a factual successor to Freiwillinger Schutzdienst, also known as Ordnersgruppe, an organization that had been established by the Sudeten German Party in Czechoslovakia unofficially in 1933 and officially on 17 May 1938, following the example of Sturmabteilung, the original paramilitary wing of the German Nazi Party. Officially being registered as promoter organization, the Freiwillinger Schutzdienst was dissolved on 16 September 1938 by the Czechoslovak authorities due to its implication in large number of criminal and terrorist activities. Many of its members as well as leadership, wanted for arrest by Czechoslovak authorities, had moved to Germany where they became the basis of Sudetendeutsches Freikorps, conducting Freikorps’ first cross-border raids into Czechoslovakia only few hours after its official establishment. Due to the smooth transition between the two organizations, similar membership, Nazi Germany’s sponsorship and application of the same tactic of cross-border raids, some authors often don’t particularly distinguish between the actions of Ordners (i.e. up to 16 September 1938) and Freikorps (i.e. from 17 September 1938).
Relying on the Convention for the Definition of Aggression, Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš and the government-in-exile later regarded 17 September 1938, the day of establishment of the Sudetendeutsches Freikorps, as the beginning of the undeclared German-Czechoslovak war. This understanding has been assumed also by the contemporary Czech Constitutional court.
Sudeten German Party
The Sudeten German Party (German: Sudetendeutsche Partei, SdP, Czech: Sudetoněmecká strana) was created by Konrad Henlein under the name Sudetendeutsche Heimatfront (“Front of Sudeten German Homeland”) on October 1, 1933, some months after the state of Czechoslovakia had outlawed the German National Socialist Workers’ Party (Deutsche Nationalsozialistische Arbeiterpartei, DNSAP). In April 1935, the party was renamed Sudetendeutsche Partei following a mandatory demand of the Czechoslovak government. The name was officially changed to Sudeten German and Carpathian German Party (Sudetendeutsche und Karpatendeutsche Partei) in November 1935.
With the rising power of Nazi Party in Germany, the Sudeten German Party became a major pro-Nazi force in Czechoslovakia with explicit official aim of breaking the country up and joining it to the Third Reich. By June 1938, the party had over 1,3 million members, i.e. 40.6% of ethnic-German citizens of Czechoslovakia. During last free democratic elections before the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, the May 1938 communal elections, the party gained 88% of ethnic-German votes, taking over control of most municipal authorities in the Czech borderland. The country’s mass membership made it one of the largest fascist parties in Europe at the time.
Volksgerichtshof – People’s Court
The People’s Court (German: Volksgerichtshof) was a Sondergericht (“special court”) of Nazi Germany, set up outside the operations of the constitutional frame of law. Its headquarters were originally located in the former Prussian House of Lords in Berlin, later moved to the former Königliches Wilhelms-Gymnasium at Bellevuestrasse 15 in Potsdamer Platz (the location now occupied by the Sony Center; a marker is located on the sidewalk nearby).
The court was established in 1934 by order of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, in response to his dissatisfaction at the outcome of the Reichstag fire trial, in which all but one of the defendants was acquitted. The court had jurisdiction over a rather broad array of “political offenses”, which included crimes like black marketeering, work slowdowns, defeatism, and treason against the Third Reich. These crimes were viewed by the court as Wehrkraftzersetzung (“disintegration of defensive capability”) and were accordingly punished severely; the death penalty was meted out in numerous cases.
The Court handed down an enormous number of death sentences under Judge-President Roland Freisler, including those that followed the plot to kill Hitler on 20 July 1944. Many of those found guilty by the Court were executed in Plötzensee Prison in Berlin. The proceedings of the court were often even less than show trials in that some cases, such as that of Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans Scholl and fellow White Rose activists, trials were concluded in less than an hour without evidence being presented or arguments made by either side. The president of the court often acted as prosecutor, denouncing defendants, then pronouncing his verdict and sentence without objection from defense counsel, who usually remained silent throughout. It almost always sided with the prosecution, to the point that being hauled before it was tantamount to a death sentence. While Nazi Germany was not a rule of law state, the People’s Court frequently dispensed with even the nominal laws and procedures of regular German trials, and was thus easily characterized as a “kangaroo court”.