Friday, March 8, 2013
Old photographs do present some mysteries, and this one is a beaut. There is an "Agfa Lupex" water mark on the back of this print. The particular version of the logo dates from 1935 to 1945. The name, "Willi Bergins" is also written on the back. Agfa was a German company then, and Willi is a common German name, so can we conclude that this is a German, as opposed to a Norwegian or Swedish photo? If so, things get interesting fast, because that would make this a photo of a Nazi youth group of some kind, most likely the League of German Girls, or the Bund Deutscher Madel, the BDM.
Hitler Youth groups go right back to the beginning of the party, but it wasn't until 1929 that a separate branch for young girls was formed, The Sisterhood of German Girls. In 1932, it was reorganized as The League of German Girls, the BDM. In 1933, all youth groups not affiliated with The Hitler Youth were banned. I thought I could confirm the organization by matching the symbol on the pennant. I Googled as many combinations of German girls, Hitler Youth, and BDM I could think of and couldn't find a match anywhere. So are these girls, happy young Nazis, out on a picnic, musical instruments in hand, or are they something else all together? Who knows.
The Hitler Youth, including the BDM had several leaders including Baldur von Schirach. Schirach had an American mother, with ancestry that first came to North America on the Mayflower. At least one of his ancestors, Arthur Middleton, signed The Declaration of Independence, and another was governor of Pennsylvania. In 1934, the BDM got it's own leader, Trude Mohr. Mohr resigned in 1937 when she married and the position of leadership fell to Dr. Jutta Rudigar. Bad luck for her as she was the one who had to answer for war crimes. (Schirach was sentenced to twenty years in prison for his part as Gauleiter of Vienna and the deportation of Austrian Jews to concentration camps.) In 1945, as the Soviet army entered Berlin, members of the BDM were called out to defend the city. Few survived. The BDM was banned by the allies in 1945.