On Nazi Sexism

“In the really good times of German life the German woman had no need to emancipate herself. She possessed exactly what nature had necessarily given her to administer and preserve; just as the man in his good times had no need to fear that he would be ousted from his position in relation to the woman. […]

If the man’s world is said to be the State, his struggle, his readiness to devote his powers to the service of the community, then it may perhaps be said that the woman’s is a smaller world. For her world is her husband, her family, her children, and her home. […]

We do not consider it correct for the woman to interfere in the world of the man, in his main sphere. We consider it natural if these two worlds remain distinct.”

– Adolf Hitler (speech to the Women’s League on September 8, 1934)

A Brief History of Colditz Castle‏

In its 1000 year historic past, the castle has witnessed a diverse range of use: from a medieval hunting lodge to a World War II POW camp, and a psychiatric hospital.

Colditz is mentioned for the first time in a historical document dating from 1046 when Emperor Heinrich III gave his wife the fort together with property and land which had previously belonged to Marquis Eckehard II.

The castle in 2011.

Colditz Caste

A bakers apprentice caused a fire destroying the castle and most parts of the town in 1504. The castle was reconstructed two years later. In 1697, during the heyday of the Baroque period, when August the Strong became King of Poland; he and his family increasingly neglected the castle and the town.

Colditz Castle was used by the Elector for the last time in 1753. From this period onwards the castle fell into a state of disrepair. In 1787, the remaining furniture and paintings were sold at a public auction.

In 1800, Colditz Castle was turned into a poorhouse for the area around Leipzig, three years later it became a workhouse.

One of the first psychiatric asylums in Germany was established at the castle in 1829. Ludwig Schumann, a son of the composer Robert Schumann, and Ernst Georg August Baumgarten (who is considered to be the true inventor of the airship) were admitted soon after. The hospital was eventually closed in 1924.

During the years of the rise of the Nazi party, 1933-1934, the Castle was used as a “protective custody“ camp to imprison approximately 600 opponents of the National Socialist Movement.

Between 1939-1945 Colditz Castle became a prisoner of war camp for Allied officers from Great Britain and the Commonwealth, France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Poland. The official name of the camp was “OFLAG IV C” and it was claimed that the castle is escape-proof. However, some prisoners succeeded in making their escape in over 30 occasions despite the rocky crags on which the castle stands, the barbed-wire fences, the numerous guards and the searchlights.

Colditz Castle circa World War II taken by a GI.

Colditz Castle at the end of World War II

The prisoners were generally treated according to the terms of the Geneva Convention. Every nation had its own escaping officer. However, POW life was not too bad at Colditz. When not busy planning their next escape attempts, the prisoners largely spent their days engaged in sports, playing music, reading, rehearsing and performing in plays and learning foreign languages. The castle and the local town were liberated by American forces on 16th April 1945.

Between 1946-1996 Colditz became part of the eastern region of Germany known as the German Democratic Republic under the Socialist rule until 1989. In the meantime, the castle was reverted back to a hospital.

After 1996, the castle was no longer used as a hospital or nursing home – an association was founded to establish Colditz Castle as a cultural centre. Nowadays it is used as a museum and hotel.

Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies‏

Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies, sometimes also known as Godwin’s Law, is a theory put forward by Mike Godwin in 1990. Godwin noticed that long-threaded discussions on the Internet tended to turn into mud slinging competitions by the end. The longer a thread got, the more likely it was that a Nazi comparison would be dragged into the discussion – a statement like the immortal words of Basil Fawlty: “This is exactly how Nazi Germany started!”

Godwin’s Rule states:

“As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”

There is a tradition in many groups that, once this occurs, that thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress.

Godwin’s Law thus practically guarantees the existence of an upper bound on thread length in those groups. However there is also a widely recognised codicil that any intentional triggering of Godwin’s Law in order to invoke its thread-ending effects will be unsuccessful.

There are several implications to Godwin’s Rule. Many on-line discussions involve intense personal beliefs and values, which sometimes clash quite dramatically. As the discussion continues along these lines, it tends to become less rational, especially after most of the valid arguments from both sides have been presented. On a hot button issue with no immediate and obvious “right” answer, opponents may start to exchange insults because they become angry and frustrated.

League of German Girls

The Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM) or the League of German Maidens was the girl’s wing of the overall Nazi party youth movement, the Hitler Youth. It was the only female youth organization in Nazi Germany.

The League consisted of:

– Jungmädelbund ages 10 to 14
– Jungmädelbund ages 14 to 18
– Werk Glaube und Schönheit (added in 1938) ages 17 to 21

After the Gleichschaltung – the Nazi Party grabbing total control of society through a so-called forcible-coordination – in 1932, the League of German Girls became the only girls’ organization in the Third Reich. All other groups, including church groups and scouting organizations, were either absorbed into the Hitler Youth or banned.

English: Emblem of the National Socialist Germ...

Emblem of the Bund Deutscher Mädel

In 1936, the First Hitler Youth Law made membership compulsory for all girls aged 10 or older. The same law also made membership in the male Hitler Youth compulsory for all boys above the age of 10.

New members had to register for their service between March 1st and March 10th of every year. Registration was held at a local League of German Girls administrative office. Girls had to have completed fourth grade and meet the following requirements:

– be of racial / ethnic German heritage
– be a German citizen
– be free of hereditary diseases

If a girl met those requirements, she was assigned to a Jungmädel group based on the geographical location she lived at. In order to become a full member, she had to now attend preparatory service which consisted of her participation of one Jungmädel meeting, one sports afternoon which was to include a test of her courage, and a lecture about the tasks of the Jungmädel.

After she fulfilled these requirements, a ceremony was held to introduce new members into the rank of the Jungmädel on April 20th, Hitler’s birthday. During the ceremony, new members were sworn in, presented with a membership certificate, and personally welcomed by their group leaders.

In order to become a full member, however, each girl had to pass the Jungmädel Challenge known as the Jungmädelprobe, which consisted of participation in a one-day trip with the group, and a number of sports requirements. Girls had six months to meet all the requirements of the Jungmädel Challenge and, on October 2nd of each year, those who passed became full members in a ceremony in which they were officially presented with the right to wear the black neckerchief and brown leather knot.

The Werk Glaube und Schönheit or Faith and Beauty Society, was founded in 1938 to serve as a tie-in between the work in the League of German Girls and that of the Nazi Frauenschaft, the women’s wing of the Nazi party.

Bund Deutscher Mädel out exercising

The BDM used campfire romanticism, summer camps, folklorism, tradition, and sport to educate girls within the National Socialist belief system, and to train them for their roles in German society: wife, mother, and homemaker. Their Home Evenings revolved about domestic training, but Saturdays involved strenuous outdoor training. This was praised as ensuring health, which would enable them to serve Volk and country. The so-called home evenings – ideally to be conducted in specially built homes – also included world view training, with instruction in history. The League was particularly regarded as instructing girls to avoid Rassenschande or racial defilement, which was treated with particular importance for young females.

The League encouraged rebellion against parents. More worryingly, lectures were given to the BDM on the need to produce more children. This led to several illegitimate children, which neither the young mothers nor the possible young fathers regarded as problematic.These and other behaviours which were taught led parents to complain that their authority was being undermined. In 1944, a group of parents complained to the court that the leaders of the League were openly telling their daughters to have illegitimate children. 900 of the girls participating in the 1936 Reichsparteitag in Nürnberg came back pregnant.

The outbreak of war altered the role of the BDM, though not as radically as it did the role of the boys in the Hitler Youth. The BDM helped the war effort in many ways. Younger girls collected donations of money, as well as goods such as clothing or old newspapers for Nazi charitable organizations. Many groups, particularly BDM choirs and musical groups, visited wounded soldiers at hospitals or sent care packages to the front. Girls knitted socks, grew gardens, and engaged in similar tasks. The older girls volunteered as nurses’ aides at hospitals, or to help at train stations where wounded soldiers or refugees needed a hand. After 1943, as Allied air attacks on German cities increased, many BDM girls went into paramilitary and military services.

In the last days of the war, some BDM girls joined the Volkssturm, the last-ditch defence of Berlin and other cities in fighting the invading Allied armies, especially the Russians. Officially, this was not sanctioned by the BDM’s leadership which opposed an armed use of its girls. After the war, Dr. Jutta Rüdiger denied that she had approved BDM girls using weapons, and this appears to have been the truth.

See other: Hall of Fame Posts