By 1939, almost 4.5 million young women had enrolled in Hitler’s League of German Girls – the female counterpart of the Hitler Youth. Among them was Eva Sternheim-Peters, born in 1925. In this edition of Witness, she tells Caroline Wyatt what the attraction of the League was – and why she and so many others fell for it.
To young Eva, League meetings did not feel like fascist indoctrination; what she found there was the type of hearty outdoor activity girls were otherwise excluded from, together with rousing songs and a strong sense of solidarity with the less privileged. Not long after she’d joined at the age of 10, she was made to help collect food for the Nazi winter relief effort – giving Eva a sense of hope after her early impressions of poverty and unemployment during the Great Depression.
At a very young age, she was given an enormous amount of responsibility; aged just 15, she was put in charge of 180 younger girls.
Anti-Semitism, she says, was all-pervasive in German society then; and ever since, after World War II, she found out about the killing of six million Jews by the Nazis, Eva has wrestled with squaring her happy memories of the League with the evils of the Third Reich.
Listen via the BBC's website now: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3cswsnm
Eva was fantastic – so open to questions, such a good memory. Really smashing piece.