I dug in deep to the “Band of German Maidens ” (Bund Deutscher Madel / BDM), the female wing of the Nazi Party Hitler Youth organization, when writing The Golden Doves, since my French character Arlette grows up in Alsace, on the border of Germany and France, and is heavily influenced by the German culture there.
In Nazi propaganda, the BDM was presented as a meek group of women and girls helping the all male Nazi Youth, but it was more involved in the war effort than many people realize.
After the outbreak of WWII, the BDM helped the war effort in many expected ways. Younger girls collected donations of money and clothing, volunteered at hospitals and helped wounded German soldiers at train stations. But after 1943, as Allied air attacks on German cities increased and Germany experienced increasing numbers of male casualties, the women of the BDM stepped up for the Reich and became valuable to Hitler militarily. Many BDM girls went into the military and paramilitary services known as Wehrmachtshelferin, where they served as anti-aircraft warfare helpers (some actually operated the anti-aircraft guns) and searchlight operators.
Wearing their signature uniform of the brown jackets, with a Swastika and rank badge sewn on the sleeve, dark skirt, white blouse and uniform kerchief, many older BDM members were sent to Poland as part of the Germanization efforts and were the first to oversee the eviction of Poles from their homes. In the last days of the war, some BDM girls even joined with the Volkssturm (the last-ditch defense) in Berlin and other cities in fighting the invading Allied armies, and many were recruited into the short-lived Nazi Werwolf resistance groups which were intended to wage guerrilla war in Allied-occupied areas. As the Germans suffered record heavy losses toward the end of the war and male Hitler Youth were pressed into service, Himmler reportedly even considered sending the BDM women finto battle alongside them.
But the war ended before that plan could be realized and the BDM was disbanded on October 10, 1945 by the Allied Control Council and the girls and women of the BDM simply rejoined German society.