Written by Chris Crawford

The simple answer would be our motto: Ad perpetuam memoriam, which means "for the eternal memory."

History should be recorded, taught and remembered so that we may learn from it, even if it's not popular and if it's not been hundreds of years since the event.

The longer answer would be ...

At living history events, we're often asked a lot of different questions. Some of them are well thought out, while others are not the most intelligent of the bunch and often make you question the asking person's intelligence. "Is that a real fire?" is one that comes to mind. However, German re-enactors are asked one question more than any other: Why did you chose to do German?

Unfortunately, German re-enacting isn't considered to be politically correct, and more often than not, people who have not met living historians before often automatically assume that those who do German impressions are secretly neo-Nazis who enjoy dressing up in Nazi uniforms. Other people, including many re-enactors and event coordinators, feel that some impressions are too political and should not be done at any events, for example Waffen-SS or Hitler Youth impressions. In some countries, people are even trying to ban those impressions from events.

I guess what it comes down to is that the whole idea behind re-enacting and living history is to recreate a certain period in history out of personal interest, and out of the need to teach others about this time period. Every re-enactor has his or her own reason to participate in the hobby, but out of all that I've met, only very few actually held any neo-Nazi beliefs - and they did not necessarily portray Germans! The vast, vast majority are non-political, well educated people with a strong interest in all things history who want to share that passion with others and learn more about their chosen time period by means of doing things, rather than just reading about them.

When university professors get together, reconstruct ancient Roman uniforms and try them out in mock battles, it's called experimental archeology. If re-enactors - many of whom are quite serious historians - do the same thing for World War II, we are usually considered "nuts who want to play war". I find this very hypocritical. History is history, whether it happened sixty years ago, or six hundred.

When I started to get into World War II re-enacting, I never even considered doing a German impression at first. After all, what was there to do for a woman? Yet another German Red Cross impression? Another Luftwaffe Helferin? Or worse yet, I could have been yet another girl in a dirndl. No thanks, I thought to myself. I have enough embarrassing photos of myself in a dirndl - even if I was only five years old at the time and visiting the lovely town of Grindelwald. Those pictures do not need repeating. I was quite happy doing my WAC (Women's' Army Corps) impression in the smart dress uniform, with the big hair, and the bright lipstick.

But then I came across a website with the personal account of a woman who had been a member of the League of German Girls in her youth. I had heard about the League of German Girls before, but I'll be the first to admit that I knew little about it. Like most people, I'd read the half paragraph in the history book that said something along the lines of, "the girls in the BDM were raised to be good mothers and homemakers and to give many Aryan children to the German Reich." When I started reading that personal account, and then others like it, I started to realize a lot of things: First, the BDM didn't just make it its mission to turn girls into wives and mothers. Second, there was an awful lot more to it than meets the eye. And third, there's almost a complete lack of sources and information on the subject available, especially in English.

The more I read about the League of German Girls, the more interested I became. Most of the accounts were recollections of the great time girls had in the BDM, the trips they went on, and the friendships they forged at camps that lasted them until after the war. More surprisingly, many are still in contact with their former BDM friends even today. I found all this information about the many different programs the League offered to girls - from summer camps to vocational training, from eurhythmic dancing to fashion design, and from volunteer work to international youth meetings. And lastly, I also realized that most people have never heard about any of this because of the lack of sources that are available.

That is why I decided to start my League of German Girls historical research site, and then decided to do the impression at living history events. Since this impression is best suited to events such as military timelines and school talks, it would give me a chance to tell more people about what the League actually was and did - to tell them more than the two sentences generally found in books.

The question remains whether this impression could be considered a political impression. I don't think so, and I don't think that anyone who does the impression or who dresses their children up as BDM girls for an event has politics in mind. I look at it like this. Even though the Hitler Youth was the Nazi party youth organization, it also was the only youth organization in Third Reich Germany. There were no Girl Guides or Boy Scouts, only the Hitler Youth. And I know from my own research that politics played much less of a role than historians like to ascribe to it today.

I think that those who consider it a political impression are the same people who think that every German soldier automatically was a Nazi simply because he was someone who chose to serve his country. And that's a whole argument we shouldn't even get into.