Unlike the male members of the Hitler Youth who had a wide variety of training courses available to them, girls in the League of German Girls were only able to earn medical trade badges. The BDM Gesundheitsdienst, or BDM Health / Medical Service was where these health and medical skills were taught.
The following text about the Medical Service is based on the 1941 Medical Service training manual which can be found in its (un-translated) entirety in the digitized materials section of this website.
The purpose of the Hitler Youth Medical Service was not only to teach basic first aid, but to also educate all members of the organization on how to live healthy lifestyles by promoting physical exercise and healthy living, and discouraging any "recreational poisons" such as smoking and drinking. The idea was that the healthy youth of today would pass these values on to their children in the future and contribute to a healthier German people.
Responsible for most of the Medical Service training and education were the male doctors of the Hitler Youth and the female doctors of the BDM, who were medical professionals serving with the Youth Leadership Staff. The Hitler Youth medics, called Feldscher, and the BDM medical service girls, called GD-Maedel, assisted the doctors in bringing health education to the individual groups. Aside from this task of health education, the Feldscher and GD-Maedel were also responsible for the health and well-being of all participants on trips and at camp.
The leadership of the HJ Medical Service on the national level falls to the Amt fuer Gesundheit (Health Office) of the Youth Leadership Staff in Berlin, on the regional level to the Gesundheitsabteilung (Medical Service Bureau), and in the Bann and Untergau level to the Gesundheitsstelle (Health Centers).
The head of the Amt fuer Gesundheit in Berlin is the Reichsarzt der HJ (National Chief Doctor of the Hitler Youth); at his side stands a speaker for the health issues of the girls. The Gesundheitsabteilung of a HJ Gebiet was led by the Gebietsarzt (Regional Chief Doctor), and that of the BDM-Obergau by the Obergauaerztin (female Regional Chief Doctor). Responsible for the Gesundheitsstelle of an HJ unit was the Bannarzt, and for the BDM Untergau, the Untergauaerztin. Aside from those positions, the Hitler Youth also employed dentists and apothecaries.
Universities offered a special program for students who wanted to become Hitler Youth doctors, and the students often helped with the medical education of the youth while they were still in training themselves.
In the male Hitler Youth, only the boys who were going to be holding the position of Feldscher within their groups were offered medical training, whereas in the BDM, all girls between the ages of 16 and 17 were required to take the 12 week long medical course.
Because girls were supposed to go on to have families later on in life, it was considered only proper that all girls should have the knowledge to help in cases of accidents or illness, and that all girls should have a good basic knowledge on the subject of living a healthy lifestyle.
However, while all girls had to participate in the training, only the ones considered to be most suitable for the position were awarded a certificate, the rune-shaped insignia, and the right to call themselves GD-Maedel.
The GD-Maedel insignia consisted of a white oval with a red, y shaped rune (called the Life Rune) in the center. According to the level on which a GD-Maedel worked, the insignia was surrounded by a colored cord.
GD-Maedel - red and white cord
GD-Maedel for a Maedelgruppe - green-and-white cord
GD-Maedelfuehrerin for the Untergau - red cord
GD-Maedelfuehrerin for the Obergau - black cord
GD-Maedelfuehrerin for the Reichsjugendfuehrung - gold cord
The Health Service Girls fulfilled many tasks, but their main areas of responsibility were assisting the BDM doctors in their work, ordering and stocking medical equipment, and watching over the members of their groups during meetings, travel, and at camp.
Seasoned Health Service Girls were offered further education in the medical field so that they could serve as first aid instructors and help teach the Medical Service course.
Every sports afternoon of the BDM required that at least one Health Service Girl was present to provide first aid. At smaller sports events, a GD-Maedel could be responsible for the event by herself, as long as the BDM doctor had been informed of the event. The GD-Maedel was also required to have emergency contact information for the BDM doctor, the nearest first aid post, and the local ambulance squad. For larger sports events, a BDM doctor had to be present.
On longer trips or trips undertaken by larger units, a BDM doctor was required to accompany the girls, while on short trips or trips of smaller units, the GD-Maedel would be responsible for the medical support by herself.
For every 25 girls in the unit, one GD-Maedel had to be present and was required to carry a regulation first aid kit. She was also responsible for making sure that each participant carried two field dressings as well as adhesive tape. She also had to carry forms to report any accidents ("Agrippina-Forms"), as well as referral forms for doctor, dentist, and hospital visits (insurance forms from the "Deutsches Reich" insurance company).
After returning from a trip, the GD-Maedel was required to report to the Untergau doctor as well as the Untergau apothecary. At the former, she would have to report any incidents that took place on the trip, and at the latter, she had to account for all first aid materials she'd used, and restock her first aid kit. If a girl had gotten ill during the trip, she was also responsible to contact the girl's parents.
At each camp, whether the camp consisted of a building such as a youth hostel or a grouping of simple tents, a first aid location would be set aside to serve as a sick bay if anyone got sick or injured. It was the task of the GD-Maedel to set up this sick room and to procure all of the needed supplies.
The sick room (or tent) was required to have real beds, the proper amount of linens for them, and an assortment of towels. It also needed wash bowls, water containers and glasses for each of the sick girls, as well as a trash can with a sealing lid. The first aid materials were to be laid out neatly and ready to use, either on a table covered in white oil cloth or inside a medical supply closet. Among the items at hand had to be a thermometer standing in a glass half filled with disinfectant, a bowl filled with disinfectant, a bowl filled with clear water, a nail brush and soap.
At each larger camp, a BDM doctor was placed in charge with GD-Maedels at her side as auxiliaries. The GD-Maedels, whose schedule was determined by the camp doctor, were responsible for the cleanliness and order inside the sick room (or tent), keeping track of the medical materials, and the proper keeping of the log books. They cared for the sick in all respects and carried out the doctor's orders.
At smaller camps, a BDM doctor was not always required and the GD-Maedel placed in charge had to make sure that she had the contact information of the nearest BDM doctor in case of sickness or injury at camp.
Only a doctor had the ability to determine that a sick or injured girl was to be sent to a local hospital, and was then responsible for contacting the girl's parents, as well as for filling in the necessary paperwork.
The GD-Maedel were also responsible for the hygiene at camp, especially if they were tenting. As such, they were responsible to oversee setting up and upkeep of the washing area, the cooking area, and the latrines. It was therefore especially important that the GD-Maedel had received training in this area. Further reading on the subject could be found in, "Vorschrift ueber den Gesundheitsdienst."
At the House-holding and Leadership Schools, and Country Service Camps
At all of these medical support was the responsibility of a BDM doctor, or a doctor from the Hauptamt fuer Volksgesundheit (National Office of Health). One GD-Maedel was required for every fifty girls at a leadership school or Landdienst camp. Their tasks were to provide first aid, care for the sick, notify the doctor if a girl became seriously ill, and serving as an aide when the doctor was present. The GD-Maedel was also responsible for the medical equipment which was kept in a special equipment closet at all House-holding and Leadership Schools as well as all Country Service camps.
The following text is a direct English translation of the GD-Maedel training schedule from the manual posted in the digitized materials section of this website. The manual is in the webmaster's personal collection.
The most important training aid is the manual for the Medical Service in the League of German Girls. The pamphlet "The Life of the People lies with its Women" is required for the instruction session on moral lifestyles.
Furthermore, the following may be used for teaching:
- "Teeth in Need" - Brochure of the HJ Health Activity
- "Healthy through proper Nutrition" - Brochure of the HJ Health Activity
- Picture book "The Human Being - the Body and its Organs" (Girls' version.
- Picture book "Being Ready and Helping"
- Picture book "You have the Duty to be Healthy"
- Illustrations of personal choice. Suggested are the anatomical wall hangings
of Schreiber or the German Hygiene Museum in Dresden.
Organization and tasks of the Hitler Youth Medical Service - The tasks of the GD-Maedel - The development of life - The cell as a unit of life - cell division - composition of body tissues.
Composition and workings of the human body - Composition of the human body - Skeletal system - Joints - Musculature.
Different types of bandages and their usage. Basics of bandaging: recurrent bandage, figure-of-8 bandage, spica bandage, spiral bandage, and reverse spiral bandage.
The nervous system and human senses - The skin and its many tasks - Skin
Bandaging: wrist and ankle bandages.
Heart - Circulatory system - Lymphatic system.
Bleeding and its treatment - Applying pressure to a wound - Pressure bandages.
The respiratory, digestive, egestive and sexual organs.
The importance of oral hygiene and ways to achieve oral health.
Basics of healthy nutrition.
Personal health - care of the human body - smart and healthy clothing - the BDM uniform - healthy living - physical demands in the service.
Wounds and how to treat them - Specific types of wounds - Dangers of
Different bandaging materials - thumb bandages, finger bandages, hand bandages, shoulder bandages, hip bandages.
Bone and joint injuries (short repeat of the skeletal system and the joints) - Sprains, dislocations, simple and complicated fractures, fractures of the long bones, head and spine fractures.
Applying suspensory bandages using simple splints (arm sling, splinting the broken leg to the health leg) and artificial splints (wooden splints, self-made emergency splints). Building emergency stretchers and basics of transporting an injured person.
Small accidents and illnesses in daily life - foreign object in eye, ear, month, or nose; fainting; drowning; heat stroke; heat exhaustion; blisters; ear aches; tooth aches.
Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Bandages: eye and ear bandages, chin bandages, nose bandages. Short repeat of previously learned bandages.
Correct treatment of illnesses: illnesses of the throat, stomach and digestive illness, rashes, muscle and joint soreness, poisonings.
Taking the pulse, taking temperature, bandaging.
The GD-Maedel and her tasks - knowledge of the first aid kit, the JM first aid bag, correct use of medications and first aid materials. Simple methods of disinfection, tasks of caring for the sick, keeping the sick log, insurance protection in the Hitler Youth, and special tasks of the GD-Girl.
Questions about a moral lifestyle - The meaning of sexually transmitted diseases.