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UCSB Hist 133 B, Winter 2009 (homepage)
German History, 1900-1945

Prof. Marcuse (homepage)

Questions for Ursula Mahlendorf and Josie Martin

Introduction & Background (back to top)Mahlendorf, book cover

  • For my Winter 2009 Hist 133B class, I invited two women who had written memoirs of their experiences in World War II Europe to speak to the class.  The books are:
    • The Shame of Survival: Working Through a Nazi Childhood by Ursula Mahlendorf (Penn State UP, 2009) ($20/22 at amazon)
    • Never Tell Your Name by Josie Levy Martin (1st Books, 2002)($13.50 at amazon)
  • As preparation, the students read selections from those memoirs, and I assigned them to upload a question they would like to ask in class. The list below are those questions.
  • I also videotaped the class; if anyone is interested I could make that tape available.
  • Here is the assignment: Josie Martin, book cover
    • Q5 (2/12): Based on the reading selections by Ursula Mahlendorf (chaps 4 & 5), and Josie Martin (pp. 19-39, 79-86, and optionally 106-141 in separate pdf):
      1. Describe two events/anecdotes from the two readings that you found particularly insightful, and explain why. (One for each memoir)
      2. Formulate two questions you would ask them in class on Thursday. (Again, one each.) [Be sure to bring a copy to class for your own use.] (Compilation of questions)

      Sorry about the overly long page--it was a lot of work to compile these 43 responses, never mind formatting them for the web.

Students' Events & Questions (43 total in alphabetical order from GauchoSpace course site)
(back to top)

  1. 1.One event from Ursula Mahlendorf's memoir that i find insightful was when She stood looking with envy at an older German boy getting in a glider, yet thinking "exceptional boys and women had a chance for anything boys and men did." It is peculiar to see such equality In a totalitarian government such as Nazi Germany.

    2.One event from Josie Martin's memoir that i find insightful is when Josie's parents send her to a convert school and tell her that her new name is now Josie L'Or. It is interesting how both gentile and Jewish children were separated from their parents in one way or another.

    1. How did you feel When you first found out about the murder of millions of Jews during the Holocaust.(Mahlendorf)
    2. Is a convert school a place where children of the Jewish religion convert to Christianity?(Martin)

  2. Events:
    1. From reading chapter 4 of Ursula Mahlendorf's book, one thing that struck me the most was when she described the pervasiveness of Nazi ideals. Nazi ideology was ubiquitous enough to show up in a math problem given to the students in class.
    2. From Josie Martin I found it ironic that a child who knew nothing of the situation she was placed in at the time was being forced to learn and practice a religion different from the one that forced her family to leave its home.

    1. For Ursula, having the experience you did in the Hitler youth, what responsibility do you feel that generations born to parents involved in the Nazi party have today?
    2. For Josie, looking back today, how do you feel about having to take on a new name, religion and essentially a new existence during the war?

  3. 1.
    A. From Josie Martin's excerpts, the parts regarding French collaborators and resistance was particularly interesting. I did not know that there were French who collaborated with the Nazis to the extent as to turn in Jewish residents living in the various towns. I was aware that there was official support from France in the form of the Vichy government, however was unaware of the extent to which common people supported the Nazi cause.

    Additionally, I thought the French Resistance led by the Maquis represented a troubling paradox of the time. Martin writes that "That's the Resistance. Those Maquis do what they have to do, then they go back underground and innocent people are left for the reprisals" (pg 138). This paradox between resistance against the Nazi's and alienation among the French people seems to represent the problem with with resistance against an occupying army that punishes the general population for a resistance movement's actions. This punishment of common people due to association with Resistance fighters is clear in a passage in which "Two soldiers seized them as others began to beat the Old man, but meanwhile a whole truckload of soldiers entered the little cottage and discovered an old English Tommy gun."Cook gasped, "Afais non, every Frenchman who fought in the Great war has some kind of arms ... not as weapons, as souvenirs"."And so, they beat the old man to death with the child watching, then set ftre to the cottage, and as they got back in their trucks, the commander ordered them to leave, but there was a last shot. .. and the little boy was no more." pg 140

    This execution of the old man and little boy seems aimed at decreasing support for Resistance fighters through brutalizing their main form of support: the common people of towns and villages. Through brutalizing supporters, the Nazis made it a risky an unprofitable business to support resistance movements.

    B. Prof. Mahlendorf'
    "None of us understood that we had just absorbed the key concepts that were to guide our lives as HJ members—that we were a special, valuable class, representing a new age for Germany; that we would serve Germany and Hitler, whatever the danger or hardship; that we were ready to sacrifice our lives so that Germany could live free of her enemies."
    For me this statement seems reflective of much more than a personal sacrifice of one girl for Germany. It brings to mind the ritualization and aggrandizing of the Nazi party. And it is the purpose of this aggrandizing, to work towards the Furhrer, of preemptive obedience that is most troubling. Institutions such as the Hitler Youth seem to have been aimed at creating a generation of children who's sole motivating drive was to please Hitler, and in doing so, preserve Germany, regardless of person cost.

    What this undying loyalty created then, was (at the time) an inclusion in "the group" that removed any guilt or responsibility to question what was going on. The Hitler Youth theme song that the little girls are forced to learn served to reinforce the notion that the country, and Hitler, was more important than the individual. This not only implies the the country is more important than German, but also that anyone not considered German was an enemy and must be trying to harm Hitler or Germany. It must have been quite persuasive and intimidating to be confronted with such ritualization and indoctrination. Whether or not this ritualization and intimidation means youth were exempt from the repercussions of their decisions is a question that I hope one of our two guests can answer. Was there any understanding of their guilt, or did that come after the war had ended, and the "man behind the curtain" was revealed to be the monster that he was.

    2. Questions

    A. Prof. Mahlendorf- Were you aware at some point that you were being indoctrinated into an organization that supported "working towards the Furhrer" and his horrible policies, or did that realization come after the war ended and Hitler's attrocities were revealed?

    B. Josie-
    Did you have any understanding of yourself as a Jew at the time? Did you notice any different status afforded you? Was your situation common in France at the time?

  4. 1. Josie: I thought it was interesting in Josie’s story when she compared herself to her friend, Jacqueline. She compared the amount of toys that Jacqueline had to the amount of toys she had. When Josie and her family fled their home, they didn’t have room for toys in their car. Jacqueline had dolls, blocks and games and Josie only had tin cans that her mother had made for her so that they could make mud pies. This was not really a big deal, but it just showed the differences between Josie, who was a Jew, and her friend, who was not.
    After you were evacuated and before you lived in the convent, what was your life like? Did you go to school?
    2. Prof. Mahlendorf: I thought it was interesting to see someone that had grown up in the Hitler Youth and had been around that ever since they could remember. To Ursula, the Hitler Youth was the only thing she knew and no one was telling her differently. She looked up to her youth leader and her thoughts were molded to what the Hitler Youth wanted her thoughts to be. I thought it was interesting that her mother did not express her disapproval to Ursula and her brother more. At one point, Ursula states that, “We agreed that it would have been enormously helpful to us if even one of the adults around us had attempted to counteract this indoctrination, had told us that other values existed aside from bravery, toughness, obedience, and loyalty unto death—that other nations, races, and peoples valued their way of life and were worthy of respect”. I just think it is interesting to think about the person that most people have targeted as a horrible person, when in reality she is just a little girl that only knew the beliefs of the Hitler Youth.
    How much was actually said and known about the war and the treatment of the Jews to the German people?
  5. 1.
    It is interesting how Nazi Germany conducted everything under its control with the highest level of military precision. There is uncanny resemblance to how the HJ and the concentration camps were operated. The whole Nazi regime was run through fear, whether it was towards its privileged Aryan citizens or its Jewish prisoners.
    I have never learned about the evacuation of people from Alsace Lorraine or any other territory contested by the Germans. It is common to hear about refugees sneaking away and being smuggled out of dangerous territories, but I have never heard of these exoduses of entire populations.

    How have your experiences as a Hitler Youth affected your relationship with your children, if you have any?
    What sources did you use in writing this memoir? Is it entirely from memory…partly made up? Did other people help refresh your memory? (Is it written for children?)

  6. 1. One part of Mahlendorf’s memoir I found interesting was when she was visiting her Uncle Richard and Aunt Helen. When she tells her uncle that she was chosen for leadership training in the Hitler Youth he turns away and she says that she noticed a decline in their relationship after that. Also when she is visiting, her uncle tells a joke against Hitler and the party. Her aunt is horrified that her uncle would tell a joke to Ursula and after that, they didn’t make anymore political jokes. Further, when they had people over her Aunt would have her to eat in the kitchen and anytime Ursula walked by the table the adults would stop talking immediately. I thought this was interesting because it shows how indoctrinated Ursula was and the amount of fear that the adults, who it appeared weren’t enthusiastic about Hitler, had towards her because she was in Hitler Youth.

    I thought that part where Josie is concerned for her parent well being because they didn’t have a cross at home to protect them was interesting because Josie was so young when she was put in the convent and didn’t seem to have an understanding of what it mean to be Jewish or Christian. She understood there was a difference but not what that difference was. Josie also made a cross from cardboard to send to her parents and she asks Jesus to watch over her parents even though they are not Christian and promises to tell them all about him when the war is over. I thought this was interesting because Josie because she was so young quickly learns about Christianity and believes so sincerely that the cross and Jesus will protect whoever believes in him and truly believes that because her parents don’t have the cross in their house they are unprotected.

    2. After the war how long did it take to unlearn everything that was taught to you in the Hitler Youth? When did you fully realize or understand the effects of the HJ on your life? How did you feel in the years directly following the fall of the Third Reich about your involvement in the Hitler Youth?

    In your memoirs you talked about how you wanted to make a cross for you parents to protect them, after the war did you retain any of the Christian practices you learned in the convent?

  7. Martin:
    Question: What made you decide to pen your novel in the tense and format that you did? Was it done to help portray the story in a certain light?

    A citation from Martin’s work, “At least this part is like Papa said, she has the beautiful name,” struck me as it supremely reflects the nativity of Josie. She is miserable and lonely in the nunnery, yet she treasures her new alias of grandeur L’Or viewing it as a luxury of sorts, rather than realizing it is a means to conceal her Jewish heritage. There is a paradox of sorts as she is living in this realm of calamity amidst a world verging on chaos. She is so fond of her alias, due to its translation to gold. This quote struck me as particularly insightful as it reveals what is going on within Josie’s mindset as the rest of the chapter is told mainly from the perspective of adults around her.

    Question: Your personal story is not a point-of-view that is usually spoken about in such detail, as someone who rallied behind the Fuhrer with such enthusiasm as a youth leader. What inspired or motivated you to share your story with the world in this publication?

    I found the act of Mahlendorf deciding to publish her story in itself inspiring. Her story is not one that is not looked highly upon as one who possessed enthusiasm for Hitler as a prominent member of one of the Fuhrer’s youth leadership groups. I recently saw the film Boy in the Striped Pajamas in which over the course of the film viewers watch a young girl fall under the influence of such youth leadership groups, which helped me to visualize Mahlendorf as she takes you on her journey as she became bewitched my the appeal of Nazi ideology.

  8. Events

    For Martin’s article: The passage that described her father and her sitting in the woods talking was extremely interesting to me. It is saddening to see the loss of religion that she had to go through in order to survive the war. It is striking also, because both her father and herself feel the same amount of grief at one another’s inabilities to understand. Her father knows that she is now a Christian, and is given a Christian education, and she is upset that he seemingly does not know how to take care of the flowers she so desperately wants to get to her mother.

    For Mahlendorf: It is interesting to see the in dept account of Nazi youth education regarding sexuality. The idea of serving the Fuhrer perpetuated every part of German culture, in ways that is not often portrayed in Nazi history. The need to carry out their German duty by providing Hitler with kids is a disturbing yet patriotic way in which German women can carry out their duty.


    Josie Martin: How difficult was it to censor your grown opinions and thoughts and embrace the voice of the little girl? Were there times when you felt as if she had taken over and it was not really you writing at all?

    Mahlendorf: What are your thoughts about the Obama campaign and the way that it touched the youth of America? Any major similarities to Nazi youth?

  9. 1. Ursula Mahlendorf cut up her mother’s fur coat in order to donate the fur to the soldiers on the Eastern Front. She states that she thought that ‘I had done the right thing for the Fuhrer.’ This anecdote shows how affective the indoctrination of her had been. Her loyalty lay not with her mother but with Hitler.

    Question: did the closeness in age of the squad leaders to the members in the Jungmadel organization cause any problems?

    2. Even when she was just a young child Josie Martin knew that it was wrong for the mademoiselle to be fraternizing with German Soldiers. She did not know why, but she knew that they were the enemy. It shows that, to her, people in the war were divided very clearly between the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’, but that, in reality, the situation was a far more complicated.

    Question: why is the memoir written in the third person?

  10. Ursula Mahlendorf:

    A story that I found particularly interesting was in late 1941. Marga, Ursula’s squad leader told the squad that they needed to collect warm clothes for the soldiers on the eastern front. Ursula took the fur off the collar of her’s and her mom’s jackets with scissors. When her mom discovered this she was angry at Ursula, but Ursula still ran off with the fur to her HJ meeting to contribute them to her squad.

    -Was there an age difference associated with the acceptance of the Hitler Youth, as with Ursula and her mother?

    Josie Martin:

    An anecdote that I found interesting was when Josie accompanied Mademoiselle Gilberte out into the woods. She told Josie to take a nap, while she then secretly “collaborated” with a German soldier, one time Josie watched and she came to the conclusion that it was dangerous to be near a German soldier and she felt in danger even watching.

    -How did Josie cope all those years living with a secret, and how did she as a small child not reveal her true identity to the wrong people?

  11. Events

    * The young men slowly filtering out of the town Mahlendorf was living in while she was a Hitler Youth. Also, women taking the roles men once had. Showed the impact of the war directly on special groups like the Hitler Youth and towns all around Germany. No one was safe from the war. It's very disturbing to see that Hitler's beloved people were being sent off to war to die for a silly cause.
    * When the girl asks her mother what religion they are after her mother refuses to go into a Christian church and says that they are not Christian and do not follow Jesus. Also, when the girl asks her mother what religion they are, the mother does not tell her. This is insightful because it shows that the mother does not want her child to know that her religion is not well liked and that since she is sent away to a convent, the mother is trying to protect her daughter by not telling her their religion. This way the daughter does not get confused when she is sent away. It's showing that the mother knew what was to come and didn't want her daughter to be confused about what was happening to her and her beliefs.


    * Mahlendorf -- Did you know how your parents felt about the group of Hitler Youth? Were they happy that you were part of something like that?
    * Martin -- The story is told through the eyes of a child. Do you think that it enabled you to tell more things within your book than if you were telling it from another point of view?

  12. Josie Martin

    A part from Martin’s selection that struck home with me was her description of her first interaction with the nun at the convent. The degrading and subservient language Martin uses, I think, really sets the tone of the relationship she has when the nun (“lower your eyes”). It also throws into relief how the events during this time period affected peoples’ lives. For Martin, being separated from her family at such a young age, being put into an unfriendly environment, etc. is just a single microcosm of the entire Third Reich era. For many people, not knowing what was happening to their friends and family was one of the more unnerving aspects of Jewish persecution. For some reason, this scene makes the stark reality of familial separation that much more brutal.

    Question: What were the events leading up to your parents sending you to the convent?

    Ursula Mahlendorf

    The most poignant moment, for me, in Mahlendorf’s excerpt is her description of Wanda. Although it is relatively small, and seemingly insignificant, she became friends with Wanda, a polish fieldworker. She knew that she should not be friends with her, as she was “a proud German girl.” This moment shows that race and preconceived notions regarding it do not matter once a personal relationship or friendship has been established. The message is simple: the common bond of humanity should rise above hatred stemming from petty cultural, racial, ideological differences. It is also interesting to note that she knew she should not be friends with her, but chose to do so anyway.

    Question: Why did you choose to become friends with Wanda, even though you knew you should not?

  13. Events

    from Prof. Mahlendorf’s memoir: It was not a particular moment in Prof. Mahlendorf’s memoir that struck me, but a general progression that she talked about—the idea of belonging in the Hitler Youth. In the beginning, joining the HJ presented the young girl with the comfort of being something larger than herself. However, once she went to the HJ leadership training, Mahlendorf became ever more isolated. It just shows the utter hypocrisy of the Nazi ideology and lifestyle. It is very twisted that something that seems so inclusive becomes so alienating once you get up in the ranks, and this obviously served the Nazi regime. Pointing out these seemingly subtle and imperceptible ways that the German public was duped into either participating or ignoring the destruction of the Nazi party is really important. Showing the confusion and the way that people can be convinced of two contradictory things at the same time is important to an outsider’s understanding of how Hitler controlled a country.

    from Josie Levy Martin’s Never Tell Your Name: The scene where Josie’s mother and father tell her the new name that she must use is very heart wrenching and beautiful. We see the event through the eyes of a young child, but the reader gets a much greater understanding of what is happening to the child. It shows the importance of a name and the connection that it has with your identity. For the child, her last name is what makes her part of her family, to belong to her parents, and to maintain her identity. For the Nazis, a Jewish name meant that you were subhuman. Identity is a very complex thing that has different implications for different people and Martin approaches it from an interesting perspective.


    for Prof. Mahlendorf: What do you think is the significance of certain moments that you cannot recall? The amount of detail that you have about events in your early childhood is amazing, but some, seemingly, mundane details are forgotten; such as, how you performed at the leadership training and what made you feel so uncomfortable there, the fourth type of human being taught by Lotte, etc. Can you discern any type of importance at these details being forgotten, do they have something in common?

    for Josie Levy Martin: At one point, you talk about wanting to give a crucifix to your parents to protect them from being harmed. How does that child-like thought and confusion about religion affect you today? Your parents were being persecuted because they did not believe in Jesus Christ and there you were wanting to protect them with a Christian religious symbol. How has that contradiction imposed on you affect your beliefs now?

  14. From Professor Mahlendorf’s Memoir:
    “At least in theory, one’s private life, one’s own personal, intimate sphere, did not exist for a member of the Hitler Youth. Each member was required to serve a cause larger than himself or herself, in ceaseless effort; thus activity triumphed over thought and reflection” (Chapter 4)

    This quote stood out to me because it goes along with the basic argument of the book I am reading for my essay (Adolf Eichmann). The idea that one’s personal life must be forfeited entirely to a government strikes me.

    From Josie Levy Martin:
    I found it interesting that when Josie’s father came to visit her at the convent, she did not even know what religion her parents were. Also, how hard it must have been for her father to not be able to tell her.

    For Professor Mahlendorf:
    After reading about the Russian soldier who was almost killed at the hospital, and how you almost went along with it, how far do you think you could have gone if Nazi Germany had not lost the war?

    For Josie Levy Martin:
    What ever happened to Mademoiselle Gilberte? And your parents?

  15. Ursula Malendorf
    1. An anecdote I found interesting in the Malendorf reading was Ursula is explaining the dynamics of the Nazi youth movement and how its propaganda worked to undermine parents’ authority of their children. The particular account is when a young Ursula does not ask her mother if she can cut the fur off of their coats to bring back to the HJ.
    “’You didn’t ask me if you could give them away!’ she exclaimed, horrified at this act of independent butchery, and I ran off, knowing there would be hell to pay when I got back, but I felt heroic. Mother refused to speak to me for a week, and though her silences terrified me I was content, knowing that I had done the right thing for the Fuhrer… The slogan ‘Youth led by youth’ proved a powerful tool, welding us into what we thought of as comradeship and which was in fact mass manipulation, down to the smallest unit. We thought of ourselves as different from out mothers. The HJ gave us different, new ideals and new tasks on behalf of our nation.”
    It is really interesting how Hitler and the leaders of the Nazi movement realized the importance of capitalizing on the young and impressionable youth to help advance their cause. By undermining parents from the beginning, Hitler could make German youth dedicated to his cause without directly having to do any of the work. He was very smart in outsourcing pride and commitment to people, working on a hierarchical structure. This made everyone, even children feel they were an integral part of bigger cause.

    2. Did the Nazi’s use a different kind of propaganda that was more effective in furthering their cause? They seem to be extrodinarily successful, especially compared to other propaganda movements in different repressive regimes.

    Josie Martin:
    1. One of the anecdotes I found most interesting in this reading was when Josie was recalling how her mother told her she was not Christian, but would not tell her what religion she practiced.
    “’I’ve told you, we do not go into church. Church is not for us…I, we do not believe in Jesus. Jesus is the Christian’s God. We don’t follow him. We are not Christians.’” She said it as if it was bad to be Christian. ‘What are we then?’ The child demanded an answer. ‘We are…we are a different religion’ Here Maman bit her lip and looked helpless and miserable. ‘What is it that we are?’ ‘Stop it! Stop asking me things you don’t need to know.’
    I find this insightful because I never realized at what point in my life I started to understand the concept of religion. I cant remember a time when I didn’t know I was Jewish. I sympathize with the struggle that Josie’s parents must have endured not telling their daughter she was Jewish. It was too help guard her from herself and her own identity in a way.

    2. Did the Nuns in the school try to convert Josie? If so, did her parents know this was a condition of leaving her in the care of the nuns? Was this practiced in all covenants that hide Jewish children?

  16. Ursula Mahlendorf- Chapter 5- A particular part I found quite profound, insightful, as well as disturbing was when Mahlendorf received her first lecture about intercourse and impregnation by her HJ cadre leader, Lotte in a middle school classroom. Lotte tells the fourteen-year-old girls that their future function will be to “enjoy having many children for the Führer” and that is why they also must remain pure. Furthermore, Lotte then uses a violent metaphor to end her sex talk saying that, “When your future husband makes you a mother, he will put his member into you like a sword thrusts itself into its sheath and his seed will impregnate the ovum in your belly.” This part of Mahendorf’s memoir really shows the extent of Nazism as it invaded even the most private and confusing time of a young woman’s life. It served to brainwash these girls to be scared of sex and to only have it in the name of Hitler, expressing the ideology of woman only having sex for the purpose of creating new generations of Aryans and not for personal pleasure. Moreover, the sex talk provides the Nazi thinking of women being subservient to the German man’s sexual and social dominance while disregarding any need for emotional intimacy and affection. .

    Question- Other than the German fairytales and folklore, what other instances do you remember from your days in the Hitler Youth that were so distorted through Nazi perversion that it still makes you uncomfortable to think about?

    Josie Martin- In her chapter Trysts, Martin recalls when Mademoiselle Gilberte left her among the grasses on the river bank while Gilberte read her “book” which was actually her boyfriend Fritz. Martin is confused and too young to realize what exactly was happening between Gilberte and Fritz in the woods while she plays amongst the flowers and observes the sighs, groans, smells, and movements in the thickets of the forest. But one night when Martin was suppose to be sleeping she overhears an argument between the couple which inspires her to try and help Gilberte understand as they are walking home. After telling Gilberte what Fritz was saying, Gilberte yells at Martin and hit her. To stop Martin from crying, Gilberte then makes a deal with her to never tell anyone that she hit her for a sugar cube everyday in return. This chapter illustrates Martin’s disillusionment with her surroundings as her innocence and ignorance are clearly exemplified through her confusion about the French Catholic teacher/Germany soldier relationship. Furthermore, her ability to keep secrets also emphasizes this point with her not telling anyone her last name and not telling about Gilberte striking her. She knows keeping secrets are for her benefit but does not grasp the shear realities of breaking them.

    Question- What inspired you to write your book from a third person perspective? Did you start writing it that way or change after you started the book?

  17. Events/Anecdotes:

    1. I did not know that local Catholic diocese played a role in rescuing Jewish children from the internment camps, but thought that it was more of a private effort on the part of local citizens.
    2. I found it interesting how Nazi ideology and “working towards the Fuhrer” influenced how sex and motherhood was taught to young girls which seems like something mothers should teach their daughters rather than HJ leaders. The number of children you have or want should determined by the couple and not the state.


    1. How extensive was the Catholic Church’s effort to save Jewish children or was it left up to local priests and bishops? Did you know any other children, whom you may have met after the war, who were rescued on the part of local churches?
    2. As the war turned against Germany in 1944 and 1945 and manpower shortages increased how were girls in the HJ used to fill in the gaps on the home front and how were these tasks different than in the previous four years of the war?

  18. Ursula Mahlendorf
    I find it interesting that the Hitler Youth made boys and girls equal in activities and privileges. This seems to be a progressive thought for the time and a real opportunity for the girls involved and to make something of themselves in Nazi society.

    Since Hitler youth was seen as preparation for adulthood, what were the main ideologies taught for women? What was expected of women growing up in this fashion?

    Josie Martin
    Josie is hidden in a convent and in return for protection, she helps out around the convent. I had never heard of collaboration between Jewish people and Catholic establishments for protection. This must have been a real advantage and interesting experience for her to learn about another religion.

    Why is the book written in the third person? Why are certain words and phrases italicized in the book as well? Is there meaning behind this writing style and format?

  19. Mahlendorf: The anecdote related about marching and singing in Hitler’s Youth provided keen insight into what it must have been like to be part of such an organized and inclusive experience. The idea of singing “And our banner leads us into eternity! Our banner is greater than death!” led by an older girl, the squadron, makes one see how having enthusiasm for such a cause could be so possible during Hitler’s reign. The united cause, being with young people your own age, and singing for a purpose would definitely have an appeal to youth today, and it makes it hard to blame youth for joining an atrocious unjust cause because of such brainwashing tactics.

    Are you still in contact/were you with girls who were part of the Hitler Youth along with you? Do you wish that you could have had your childhood back instead of sacrificing it for the Hitler Youth?

    Martin: An anecdote that really touched me in her writings was the part when her mother and father informed her that she would have to take a different last name, L’Or, meaning gold. This alias, which enchanted her very much because of childhood fantasies of Rapunzel, was very touching and insightful into the mind of a child. The idea of future isolation and not being with ones parents/knowing that change is taking place, in a child’s eye can be eclipsed by a childlike mind. I thought sweet anecdotes such as this bring such innocence to the story and also represent the innocence of so many children who experienced WWII in Europe, especially Jewish children. The censoring of the truth by her parents represents how horrendous the events of the war truly were because parents had to create stories to conceal their children from the evil that was taking place and block the reality of the situation from them.

    How long did you keep the alias L’Or? Would you have rather to be told the truth at the time of departure from your parents? Were you ever in contact with the sister(nun) who helped you after the war?

  20. 1. Two events/anecdotes
    During the war, in an effort to clothe German soldiers fighting during Russia’s winter, Ursula takes the fur from her and her mother’s coats. Much to her mother’s opposition, Ursula values her image as a supporter of Hitler’s war over her mother’s judgment. Ursula’s actions demonstrate that loyalty to Hitler and his movement was superior to familial ties. The Hitler Youth inspired rebellion against parents and a new importance for youth to the country.

    While at the convent, Josie goes on walks with Mademoiselle Gilberte and witnesses the meeting between Mademoiselle and a German soldier. Josie immediately associates their meeting as an act of collaboration, something she knows as wrong. Collaboration with the enemy was taught even to the younger generations as an act not to be committed. Even at such a young age Josie knows the meeting between Mademoiselle and the German soldier is illegal.

    2. Two questions:
    How did your relationships with family members change as your progressed in the Hitler Youth?

    Who taught you that collaboration was an act to be frowned upon?

  21. 1. Insight –

    I thought that the idea to incorporate girls into the Hitler Youth was not only liberating for the young women, but a brilliant idea on account of Hitler and the Nazi Party. Especially at the adolescent age, girls strive to “spread their wings” away from the confines of their families. Mahlendorf puts it perfectly when she says that “the Jungmädel made her feel as valuable as her brother”. The Hitler Youth made it possible for women to reach equality with men (or at least more equality than they had ever seen). This was a rewarding and remarkable experience for these ladies to partake in for the time. Mahlendorf’s insight shows what it was really like to be captured with so many positive aspects of nationalism and womanhood.

    In excerpt by Josie Martin, I thought it was shocked to hear about a Jesuit priest that rescued Jewish children from concentration camps and took them in hiding. I did not know about this act of non-Jewish resistance, and was thrilled to read about the rescued. However, it was strange how the nun was so forceful on the Jewish child. It shows that everyone considered Christianity as the dominant religion. From the way the nun treated the child it conveyed that even the rescuers thought that misbehavior and disrespect was common among Jewish children.

    2. Questions –

    Mahlendorf: What was it like to be a member of the Hitler Youth? When did you realize that the Hitler Youth was a racist and political organization? Was it heartbreaking?

    Martin: What was it like being a child of the holocaust with your parents taken away to concentration camps?

  22. In Josie Martin’s memoir, the most striking episode for me was when the two boys show Josie and her friends the dead Nazi. The Nazis seem so threatening before this, but as the body is described to the reader, you see it as a child. This benign representation is augmented by the choice of comparison—she describes the Nazi as “younger than cousin Robaire.” This not only makes him seem as a child, it also engenders a familiarity with him.
    The lucidity with which she describes the feelings of a child at such a traumatic point is also astounding. Leading up to the climax, where they see the soldier, Martin describes the preoccupation with fear and the fears of others knowing you are scared. This reminded me of how I felt during “scary” situations when I was a child. How one could remember and effectively communicate those childhood feelings from the 1940’s is astounding to me.

    In Professor Mahlendorf’s memoir, the part I found particularly enlightening was the description of the Nazi’s use of German literature and folk music. The use of music and literature in creating a volkgheist is a big interest of mine, but I had not thought about how these cultural products would affect a person who carried a large amount of guild along with the national identity. Mahlendorf says, “Like many intellectuals of my generation, after the Nazi defeat I would never again want to read a fairytale or Germanic saga, nor could I tolerate a folk proverb or folksong except in a satirical context.” She also states that she still feels uncomfortable when she hears German folksongs. It should not be surprising that such strong emotions can be attached to music or literature, but reading it from a firsthand account makes it feel much more real in a sense.

    My question for Josie Martin is: After reading the Tea Fire article and about your experience with survivor’s guilt, what responsibilities, if any, do you feel that survivors of the holocaust have?
    My question to Professor Mahlendorf is: You write about being uncomfortable with folk music and other nationalist forms of media. Does hyper-nationalism in media, such as post-September 11th country music, in general make you uncomfortable, or would you say that it is confined to German nationalism?

  23. In the Martin text, the relationship of a nun and a German soldier is particularly striking, since nuns were forbidden from any form of intimacy with others. The fact that it was an enemy made it even more so. It is an event of note because in going to the convent Josie was told she would be safe from the enemy. Seeing one near the convent can make one think that the place is not as safe as some think it is. It would probably cause alarm seeing one’s enemy in a place they thought was safe from them. The fact that the nun was intimate with him also shows that religion isn’t as sacred as one would like to think. It is also important to see that Josie’s finding out, her getting punched and bribed, and her bleeding from the mouth at the end puts her on the spot of either sinning by lying or telling the truth and the other nun getting found out. She had previously been taught not to lie by her mother. Her answer to the nun can demonstrate whether she will be true to her mother’s teachings or if she is somehow being corrupted by events in the convent.

    Possible Question- How widespread was the hiding of Jewish children and other refugees in convents and similar places done in the name of their protection, and if so how influential were their experiences in their lives after the war?

    In the Mahlendorf text, her frictions with her mother are an important note, as it shows a couple of things. One is the generation gap, as her mother seems to frown on what she is doing and becoming. It is an example of the emphasis of Nazism and fascism in general that the state transcends any individual person and that service to the state is more important than anything else. It also shows how effective the propaganda she’s exposed to really is, which is the primary reason for the lack of understanding between them. She is willing to do anything that is needed to help Germany in the war effort.

    Possible Question- Why at times does the author feel like part of a group and at others like she is all alone during her time in the HJ?

  24. Two Events:

    - Ursula Mahlendorf: I found it particularly interesting that Professor Mahlendorf hated her mother's apparent political apathy yet also states that had her mother tried to dissaude her from participating in the HJ, it would probably have only entrenched her commitment to it.

    - Josie Martin: I thought it was interesting that Josie happened to discover one of the nuns collaborating with a german even though it was clearly against the rules. Later when one of the nuns finds blood on josie's pillow, josie is torn between keeping the nun's secret and telling the other nun why her lip was bleeding.

    Two Questions:

    - Ursula Mahlendorf: Do you believe that there was something your parents or family could've done to stop the indoctrination you were subjected to as a child and young adult?

  25. Ursula Mahlendorf’s Memoir:

    Mahlendorf described the Breslau Meet she participated in with Hitler Youth in 1941. During the ceremonies she described how one of the flag bearers fainted and she was asked to take her place. The excitement of being chosen quickly fades as she has difficulty not fainting herself. Then the speaker announces that German troops have begun to move against the Soviet Union. I found it interesting that despite her physical discomfort and all of the propaganda instilled in her by the Hitler Youth, Ursula Mahlendorf still immediately questioned the move against the Soviet Union.

    Josie Levy Martin’s Memoir:

    In the chapter entitled “Crosses” Martin describes the terror she felt for her parents because they didn’t have crosses in their home and she was worried about how they could be protected without them. Josie makes a cross out of cardboard to send to her parents and prays it will be enough to protect them from “the boches and the bombs.” The anecdote demonstrates the helplessness and fear she and many others experienced but is especially poignant because it is mixed with the innocence of a child.


    For Ursula Mahlendorf: In the introduction you talked about how you have since come to the realization that by thirteen and fourteen you had begun to rebel against the conformity of the Hitler Youth, in what ways?

    For Josie Martin: What was happening with your parents while you were at the convent?

  26. 1. An event that I found particularly insightful from Ms. Martin’s work is when she is a child and her parents tell her that she is to be sent to a boarding school at a convent. She is given a new name and says,” But if you don’t have the same last name, then I cannot be your little girl anymore?” (Martin 26). I found this passage insightful because it truly shows the length that many Jews had to go to in order to survive. It is one thing to run and hide from an oppressive power but, in my opinion, it is far more traumatizing to have to change one’s own identity and continue living amongst people who would gladly cause you harm if they knew the truth. The uncertainty of everyday life must have been quite difficult and this is a perspective I had hardly considered before.

    An event that I found insightful from Ms. Mahlendorf’s work is when she states,” At age ten, when I heard him and my HJ leaders call us “his Hitler Youth,” I understood that phrase literally. I was his, as I was my mother’s child”. I found this piece exceptionally insightful because I am doing my report on the Hitler Youth and it is something that has always fascinated me. She is proof that even the children of the era were looking for a leader to believe in and follow. This also show’s Hitler’s ability to capture a large demographic and have them do his bidding.

    2. A question I would like to ask Ms. Martin is how did being submersed in a completely different religion, shape your view of the Holocaust?

    A question I would ask Ms. Mahlendorf is how difficult was it to resist joining the Hitler Youth? Also, was there a great amount of pressure from friends and family to join?

  27. 1.
    a. From one of her Memoirs, Mahlendorf explains the procedures that enforced in the Hitler Youth program. It included four month of administrative work, two month in leadership programs, a year of study, experience in industry work and a final examination. I find this particularly insightful because it shows how brainwashing could have occurred during the time of Hitler Youth. All these activities and training done to the children part of the organization must have served as a tool for brainwashing. It shows why obedience was key in those times especially because some of the tasks imposed on Germans were horrible, nevertheless they were still done, brain washing had worked.

    Looking at anti-semitism and looking at the memoirs of witnesses that were just children or teenagers in those horrific times, you can see what kind of impact these events must have had on Children's lives at this time. FIrstly, we can see that Children in the era of the Holocaust must have been extra mature in order to survive, they needed to act accordingly to the situation, as opposed to their age. In chapter 4, we see the memoir of an Austrian Jew that was very young in 1938 and how she could hear soldiers march outside her house yelling "Jewish Blood". I just cannot imagine how i would have felt in these times, being so young and hearing this outside my house, knowing that Jews are being racially discriminated, killed, and treated horribly. It just really shows how children had to take on themselves, and just like Josie Martin said, "to never show your emotions".

    Questions that i would ask them:

    1.Was there at any points when Jews wanted to revolt against the Nazis knowing that they might be sent to concentration camps or be executed?

    2.In the Jewish community, Rabbis are the highest moral figures, i wanted to know what kind of things they told the younger ones? did you pray a lot? Were there any Jews that lost faith because of what was going on?

  28. 1. A. I found it very interesting that Josie’s mother was quick to denounce the Christian faith, but equally hesitant to tell Josie that they were Jewish. She was obviously doing her best to protect Josie from revealing their religion to outsiders, but she could not help herself from defending her faith and making sure that Josie knew they were not Christian. This put Josie in a very awkward situation since she was studying at a Catholic school and was obviously too young to realize the grander implications of her religion. She had a natural child’s instinct, however, to know that something was amiss.

    B. Despite knowing the great lengths the Nazis went to maintain organization and discipline, I was still taken aback by the fact that they were training young girls in the Hitler Youth as though they were men in training for the military. The teacher makes Ursula and her classmates count out loud, then march in formation and then learn songs. This despite the fact that the Nazis were training young girls in “health, child care, domestic skills, and self-improvement in preparation for motherhood”. This task, seemingly completely unrelated to motherhood, helped the young girls develop patriotism and loyalty to Germany and the Nazi party.

    Question 1: Josie, how is it that you can recollect everything in such vivid detail despite being so young at the time?

    Question 2: Professor Mahlendorf, how much of the information regarding the Hitler Youth did you know in the 1930s? Was any of the information in your memoirs regarding Hitler’s plans for the Youth public information?

  29. 1. Two Events
    a. I found Professor Mahlendorf’s accounts of activity within the Hitler Jugend to be particularly interesting. It shows the simple things that can be done to affect the decisions of children, such as camping events and group activities. It in a way resembles the Boyscouts with their outings, value system, community service projects, and yet it can be used for such malevolent means as fueling the Nazi regime.
    b. In Josie Martin’s accounts I found it fairly touching when the child was so concerned with the protection of her family that she was looking for crosses everywhere, thinking that if her parents didn’t have a cross with them, Jesus would not protect them. Just the innocence of thought stuck out, the view of the world through a child’s eyes.

    2. Questions
    a. At the time it was a social program that seemed like it was helping people and bringing people together, do you feel that all aspects of the Hitler Jugend was bad? (Mahlendorf)
    b. Is the Convent-school still standing? (Martin)

  30. 1. “I believe that my experience has particular relevance for the world of 2005 as now, again, countries everywhere embark on ideological, military and ethnic cleansing adventures like the ones that led my country of origin along such a destructive course.”

    While the entire piece of writing was terribly interesting and moving, I found the closing sentence extremely interesting and insightful. It made me realise that history really does repeat itself on regular occasions, such as Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbia and Soeharto’s Indonesia. While Hitler’s Germany was not the first instance of ideological, military and ethnic cleansing, it has (arguably) been the most significant and examined in all of modern history. I very much enjoyed reading the piece, as it illustrated the ways in which people of certain social groups were persecuted, due to an ideology of a certain leader. Further, it also made me realise how well Hitler was able to indoctrinate youth and the population as a whole. The fact that it was written by a living witness, an actual primary source, adds emotion to the piece.

    You noted that “Hitler gradually became an idealized substitute father for [you]”. Do you feel that the thousands of other youth in Hitler youth had the same feeling due to his charisma?

    2. Something I found insightful in the anecdote Tant Pis, was the sense of abandonment that the child felt. She felt abandoned by mademoiselle and it was an unexplainable abandonment for her. The fact we are not told where or why mademoiselle has gone gives us an insight into the bemusement with which the child feels. Since the child also doesn’t understand the phrase ‘Tant Pis’ we see this child- like all children- lacks the ability to understand the adult world and thus answer the question, “why would mademoiselle go?”

    The first question I would ask the author is where did Mademoiselle go?
    The second is did you grow up in a similar environment to the one mentioned in the story?

  31. 1. One aspect of the Mahlendorf reading I found quite insightful was the all encompassing nature of Hitler’s Youth. Mahlendorf explains how once the war started Kids were taken away from their schools and family to help the harvest and in military duties. Once a member of Hitler’s Youth kids belonged to the organization. The motto which bound them was the idea of “you are either for us or against us” this striped children of their individuality in his words they no longer existed. The children were taught to idolize Hitler as a father and to let go of their personal private life. This was reinforced through Nazi ideological readings in school and altered German folk tales. There was an emphasis on molding kids to become part of the system.

    2. My question would be how hard was it for children who had been indoctrinated for so long to let go of Nazi ideologies and see the lies which attempted to control them. Were children more likely to cling to Nazi philosophies than adults who had been part of the party?

    3. The one event I thought was insightful in Martin’s story was when Josie had to go away to the covenant and change her name. This was a very emotional time for the family and it shows the hard choices Jewish family’s had to make at this time. Josie’s parents knew that by sending her away she would survive but they were losing their daughter in presence, name and religion. I can only imagine what it would be like to make that decision. It was also interesting to see the importance of a name and the pain it caused Josie and her parents when they were forced to change it. The parents knew that there was a possibility they could be killed and their child would grow with a completely different faith and view than the one they held.

    4. My question would be what was the hardest part about living away from your family and living around people of a completely different culture and religion?

  32. After reading Josie Martin’s, “Never Tell Your Name” I found one particular passage insightful and revealing. When Josie’s parents are sending her away to a Nun school, I thought the way that the situation was handled was interesting. First of all the fact they are sending her away shows the seriousness of the situation even in a country like France. They also give her a new last name, which is a life changing experience for Josie. A little girl is forced to change her identity so that she can assimilate to the culture and hide her religion. Her parents try to hide all of this from her by telling her that she is going to a “convent- school where there other little girls like you.” I had heard of families sending their children away to other friends or family’s homes many times but sending a child to a sleep away school and having them change their name was a first for me.
    Question for Josie: When did you begin to feel comfortable speaking about your experiences of the Holocaust?

    Ursula Mahlendorf offers a different position then Josie Martin. She is on the Nazi side as a child. Her entire commentary is insightful but to me what is most interesting is how the Nazi party was able to maximize all of its resources, even a ten-year-old girl. By having her go to her family and emptying her family’s closets for the war effort shows how dedicated a young child was for the Nazi party. The way the Nazi party did this did not surprise me though; it was very well thought out and manipulative. They were able to create the Hitler Youth and indoctrinated them with Nazi propaganda. By teaching them about Nazi leaders, having them recite poems and memorizing songs they cultivated the youth in their support.
    Question for Ursula: How have Jews reacted/ responded to you when they found out about your involvement with the Nazi party?
  33. 1. Mahlendorf

    The story Mahlendorf tells about getting the fur from her coats is an event I find insightful. Mahlendorf was so devoted to the causes preached by the youth group she was willing to act independently, chopping the fur off clothes. She writes that she was content with herself even though she had angered mother because she had “done the right thing for the Führer.” This paragraph demonstrates to me how effective the HJ was in engraining the Nazi ideology into the hearts and minds of children. Mahlendorf is emotionally tied to the Reich and thinks for the betterment of the state above all else, even family. Mahlendorf’s want and need to please her youth leader and Hitler shows the effectiveness of mass manipulation under the youth programs. Mahlendorf’s coat story and her feeling of heroism for disobeying her mother helps readers to understand the powerful effect youth programs had.

    Q: Do you think the youth program would have affected you so deeply if you had not lost your father when you were young? How much of the HJ’s success was based in portraying Hitler as a heroic, father figure?

    2. Josie Martin

    One event that stuck out to me in Josie’s story is when her Mom tells her that she is of a different religion, but will not tell Josie that she is Jewish. This goes along with Josie’s thought when she is around Fritz, the German soldier. She has learned the less she speaks, the safer she is. This combination of events provides insight to the internal struggle many Jews had to endure when hiding who they truly were. The mother is willing to deny her child her true identity in order to protect her. Reading this account helps me to understand the difficulties people had to endure to remember who they are. To endure and remain Jewish is an amazing feat and the struggle of a child to remember her parents, her heritage, and pain and not to simply let it go shows the strength of the human spirit.

    Q: Looking back on your childhood and how the war turned out, how do you feel about the decision your parents made to send you away? How hard was it for you to stay true to your Jewish heritage and remember your family?

  34. 1) One event that I found interesting in the Josie Levy Martin section took place in the Chapter Rocks. The little girl and “Mademoiselle were walking through the forest towards the old mill when the older woman hurts her toe on a rock on the trail. She goes to soak it in the water but is confronted by what seem to be revolutionary forces. They stop mademoiselle and curse her as a “boches-Nazi” and harshly warn the little child to avoid associating herself with the “woman and her friends. I thought this was an important anecdote in that it is rare to read a younger child’s interpretation of “the world at war”. For several years, children that were born or lived in wartime probably knew very little of what was going around them and misinterpreted the events of the day, especially in the later years.

    In the later years and up until the very end of the war, how were people able to pick out Nazi collaborators and what actions would one take to avoid being reported?

    2) An event that I thought was worthy of note was the day after Crystal Night when young Mrs. Mahlendorf went to school and several of her classmates were missing. When she asks what happened to them the teacher tells her to be quiet and that “The Gerstels and Eva’s parents had gone abroad”. I thought this was important because just like the first one, many of the children did not realize this anti-Jewish ideology until years after the initial violence began. As Professor Mahlendorf explains, “Jews as living people disappeared from my experience and became an abstraction”.

    In your introduction you say that you became a professor in order to speak “about my experience so as to make my students and young people understand how seductive any ideology, nationalism and militarism can be –not just Nazism-- and where they can lead you”. What is it that you found particularly interesting or enticing about Nazism. What drew you in to become such a dedicated German before and during the war?

  35. 1.
    Josie Martin’s insightful scene: When her parents take her to the convent and her father says “As we can no longer protect her, this is what we must do to save her.” This reveals to the reader what parents, especially Jewish parents, must have been going through during this time. They knew what was going on, and what would be going on, with the Nazis and their only problem was finding a way to save their children even if they never saw them again.

    Ursula Mahlendorf’s insightful scene: When she takes the furs from her house even though her mother told her not to. She said that by taking the furs to give to the soldiers, she felt heroic and knew that she had done the right thing for the Fuhrer. This reveals how passionate the members of Hitler Youth and other Nazi groups were in helping the Fuhrer; that they were willing to do anything and go against anyone if it helped in achieving the Fuhrer’s wishes.

    Question for Josie Martin: How long did you have to pretend that you were Christian?

    Question for Ursula Mahlendorf: How high did you move up in the Hitler Youth and what were your responsibilities?

  36. The Hitler Youth indoctrinated its children with the ideology of the party but also with German culture. Mahlendorf describes how she read German folk tales, myths, and heroic epics. Mahlendorf states that to this day hearing German folk songs makes her uncomfortable. I found this to be very interesting because it illustrates how the Hitler Youth sought to indoctrinate the German youth in all aspects of their life. A tremendous amount of value, importance, and pride was placed on the German "Aryan" culture.

    I was struck by the authors description of the little girl taking notice of all the crosses in the convent. As a young girl, Josie notices that there is at least one cross in every room and that every person wears a cross as well. She wonders why her parents don't have a cross at home and she worries about them because they do not have a cross so Jesus can not protect them. She is very determined to get her parents a cross so she eventually makes one for them so that they will be safe. This story was interesting to me because it reminded me how young Josie was and how confusing the entire situation must have been for such a small girl. The words 'Christian' and 'Jew' do not mean anything to such a young girl, and yet they will have a dramatic impact on her life.

    1. For Prof. Mahlendorf: In your memoir, you state that Hitler became a substitute father figure for you and that he was portrayed to the Hitler Youth as a father figure- How did you view Hitler? What about him attracted you? Did you feel a personal connection with him?

    2. For Josie Martin: You were sent to the convent at such a young age- How aware were you of the danger your parents were in? How much did you comprehend what was happening to the Jews of France at the time?

  37. 1a) I felt Josie was extremely insightful when it came to the secret meetings between mademoiselle and the German soldier Fritz. Despite her not understanding the magnitude of the repercussion’s mademoiselle would face if caught she did realize you were not supposed to be friends with the Germans. This eventually played out to her benefit when she was struck in the face by mademoiselle when she brought up the situation with her; she got sugar cubes, which were very rare, and now had leverage on mademoiselle. The fact that she even had a slight conception of her wrong doing impressed me and showed that she wasn’t just a naive little girl.

    1b) The Ceremony Professor Mahlendorf attended towards the beggining of her Hitler Youth years. The type of propaganda she was exposed to really showed how the youth were indoctrinated with Hitler's messege. As she stated it began to take over her life when she was told they all must do their part to win the war. It's interesting hearing a persons perspective on how Hitler's views were engraved into peoples minds from the inside. Obviously it's easy for many people to say how could you follow such an evil man, but when it is presented in this way it sheds some light on this. The sheer size of the gathering alone is something to marval at when you are a child, then along with the province leader's mass malipulation proved to have a tremendous effect on a niave child's mind.

    2a) Question for Josie: The transition to the convent school was not spoken of much, how long was the trip there? Did your father drive you in his beloved Peugeot or did someone else have to drive you there? Was it extremely emotional or had you come to terms with the situation?

    2b) Question for Professor Mahlendorf: The day following crystal night, did most people react in the same manner as your teacher? Did they all elude your questions and inquisitions as to what had happened and why? (I read chapter 3 also and this question is from that, since we just talked about this)

  38. 1.Chapter 4 of professor Mahlendorf's memoir discusses the dedication of the home front to the Nazi war effort. Half way through the chapter she recalls having to go door to door collecting recyclables and scraps once a week for four years. I had to read that at least twice to make sure I was not mistaken. In 1940 she was ten years old. She also writes that the entire city was ran by old people and fourteen to eighteen year olds. The paragraphs she takes to describe the sacrifices made on behalf of the German people were particularly striking to me.

    From Josie Martin's memoir, I thought the chapter and the descriptions of the crosses were very insightful. She didn't know that she was raised Jewish because she did not know anything else. She describes passing a church and asking her mother if she could go inside to see the stained glass. Her mother responded sharply reminding her that Jesus was the Christian's god, not theirs. At the Catholic school she has to keep her Jewish identity a secret and learn proper Catholic etiquette. Her description of the cross she made her parents shows the impressionable yet innocent mentality of a child through those harsh times.

    2. Mahlendorf: Was is difficult returning to school after the war? Did you have any fears/anxieties about being German when you arrived in the United States?

    Martin: What role did religiosity play in your formative years at the convent, was spirituality important to you throughout the war?

  39. It is interesting in Professor Mahlendorf’s memoir about how the Hitler youth especially the women having a freer and less restricted life. It was an opportunity that previous generations had not gotten to experience as women. The young women could also compete in sports and most activities boys did. They were also fully included when spoke to by a party leader. Also that Hitler placed the Hitler Youth in the heart of the police state. This is a very interesting take because I never would have thought that the Hitler Youth was anything more than young boys and to think that they had some equality is a monumental stance. It is really insightful to read brief instances of goodwill and hope that was given to the youth by Hitler. Hitler also putting a lot of emphasis on youth is a good thing even though in the end it was just to use propaganda to get them fully committed to the cause. I know a lot of things he planned or his leaders planned were bad but this is one instance where it was beneficial especially for women. To think the Nazi party was able to give new experiences to young German women that had given to previous generations is remarkable.

    Professor Mahlendorf, Was anti-Semitism reinforced during your time in Hitler Youth? What was mentioned on radio stations other than laws?

    When Josie’s mother talks about how they do not go to church and they do not believe in Jesus because he is the Christian’s God and we are no Christians. I think this is an important event because Josie had seen all about crosses and that religion in the covenant but her mom is embarrassed to talk about their religion which I am going to assume is Judaism. This is an important event that I found insightful that although Josie is forced to lie about her name and go to an area of Christian belief, she is not allowed to follow that religion because she is Jewish. I think its odd as well that her mother would not tell her that she is a Jew when she asks even if she is young. Her mom knew the negative connotation of how Jews were treated and I guess did not want her to be subjected to that kind of situation.

    How do you respond to people that try to claim that the Holocaust never happened?

  40. Ursula Mahlendorf:
    1) What I found very interesting in Mahlendorf's reading is the part where she writes that even the Hitler Youths participated in the street fighting of the early 1930's, and if one of them died they would often be presented as a martyr. Mahlendorf writes of one such individual that was celebrated in a city through a sentimental novel and movie. I find this interesting because it shows the depth the Nazi party was going with propaganda to gain peoples trust and belief.

    2) I would like to ask Mahlendorf:
    In the novels and films that that presented Hitler Youths as martyrs after they would die in a street fight, what was the effect of these on the general public in Germany? How often would a new story like this be presented to the public? And was there a certain time during the Nazi regime when these stories began to pick up and appear more commonly?

    Josie Martin:
    1) I find the event of Josie being placed in a covenant for her own safety very intriguing. I have always wondered how common it was for Jewish people to pretend not to be of Jewish faith in order to survive. I find Josie's story very interesting because it explains the depth her parents and she went through to keep herself safe. The fact that she had to change her name and keep such a big secret was a big risk I feel for her parents to keep her safe.

    2) I would like to ask Josie Martin:
    Looking back, do you think there is a chance any of the other girls at the covenant might of been hiding something to keep safe? And how often do you think a case similar to yours happened in Europe?

  41. In Ursula Mahlendorf’s book, I found the fact that she is still feels uncomfortable when she hears German folksongs very interesting. Because German Romantic literature and culture was used as propoganda and ways to increase blind patriotism of the Hitler Youth, she associated it with “Nazi pervesion.” Songs, books, and other pieces of culture remind people of the time they heard or read them, or when they were problem. It is usually a trigger in our memory, a relic of the past. For Mahlendorf, it is a reminder of Nazi brainwash and manipulation.

    Question: After the war, when did you first start to realize the enormity of what Hitler and the Nazi Party had done and seeing past the Hitler Youth point of view?

    One part that struck me was on page 39, when Josie Martin describes how as a child, she looked to Jesus to protect her parents. Since they were being targeted as Jews, she looks to another religion for safety. She makes a paper cross and performs the sign of the cross. She sees it as a safe haven, because disguising as a Christian will indeed keep her safe.

    Question: Why did you choose to write your memoirs in third-person, and from multiple perspectives, not just your own? Does this convey your story differently than if you had written in first-person narrative?

  42. Event #1: From Ch. 3 Mahlendorf:
    "'It’s not like that at all,’" another man said. "'Nobody is shouting for war. Look at the people!’" True, nobody was enthusiastic and shouted "Sieg Heil, " as I had heard it on the radio when Austria and the Sudentenland joined the Reich. The crowd on the platform was anxious, as impatient to get home as I was. The adults’ faces were grim, lined with worry.

    I found this anecdote insightful and fascinating because it contradicts everything that popular history tells us. From what we read in mass produced textbooks and see in movies, it’s hard not to envision German’s in the days leading up to WWII as nationalistic zealots anxiously ready for war. Despite the knowledge I have of the German people (from classes like yours and others, and independent readings) it always shocks me at some level to read anecdotal references like this one. Yes the crowd was “anxious,” but not for war; rather they were anxious of the uncertainty war would bring.

    Event #2: From Josie Levy’s “Never Tell Your Name.” (37).
    “She is sick. Sick with longing for her mother, for her father, for the too small cozy bed with the cloud blanket, for the morning water, and for her chocolate cup with the dancing bears circling around the edge… And now there is something else. She is afraid for her parents who live in a home where there is not a single cross to protect them.”

    This passage to me was deeply moving and opened a window into the mind of a young Jewish girl living through WWII. By reading that Josie is sick with longing for her blanket and water and the little things in her life that she values more than anything in the world, we begin to understand the loss of innocence that arose as a product of Nazism. Reading that Josie worries for her parents, who do not have a cross to protect them, we can see the tragic naivety of youth. Josie, unable to perceive what is going on around her politically due to her young age, remains concerned for her parents and believes that a cross may protect them, staying up at night wondering how to get one for them. The tragic innocence portrayed in this anecdote is emotionally compelling and revealing of the times.

    Question #1: For Ursula Mahlendorf:
    In Ch. 3 of your memoir you say and I quote: “I still object when contemporary German official publications, without referring to and explaining that infamous history, claim as their own the intellectuals and artists Germany disowned under Nazism.”
    Why do you feel the publications continue to ignore the past? And will this process of denial ever stop?

    Question #2: For Josie Levy:
    What made you decide to write in the third person? Was it easier this way for you to reflect on your emotions and cope with your past?

  43. Event #1: From Ch. 3 Mahlendorf:
    "'It’s not like that at all,’" another man said. "'Nobody is shouting for war. Look at the people!’" True, nobody was enthusiastic and shouted "Sieg Heil, " as I had heard it on the radio when Austria and the Sudentenland joined the Reich. The crowd on the platform was anxious, as impatient to get home as I was. The adults’ faces were grim, lined with worry.

    I found this anecdote insightful and fascinating because it contradicts everything that popular history tells us. From what we read in mass produced textbooks and see in movies, it’s hard not to envision German’s in the days leading up to WWII as nationalistic zealots anxiously ready for war. Despite the knowledge I have of the German people (from classes like yours and others, and independent readings) it always shocks me at some level to read anecdotal references like this one. Yes the crowd was “anxious,” but not for war; rather they were anxious of the uncertainty war would bring.

    Event #2: From Josie Levy’s “Never Tell Your Name.” (37).
    “She is sick. Sick with longing for her mother, for her father, for the too small cozy bed with the cloud blanket, for the morning water, and for her chocolate cup with the dancing bears circling around the edge… And now there is something else. She is afraid for her parents who live in a home where there is not a single cross to protect them.”

    This passage to me was deeply moving and opened a window into the mind of a young Jewish girl living through WWII. By reading that Josie is sick with longing for her blanket and water and the little things in her life that she values more than anything in the world, we begin to understand the loss of innocence that arose as a product of Nazism. Reading that Josie worries for her parents, who do not have a cross to protect them, we can see the tragic naivety of youth. Josie, unable to perceive what is going on around her politically due to her young age, remains concerned for her parents and believes that a cross may protect them, staying up at night wondering how to get one for them. The tragic innocence portrayed in this anecdote is emotionally compelling and revealing of the times.

    Question #1: For Ursula Mahlendorf:
    In Ch. 3 of your memoir you say and I quote: “I still object when contemporary German official publications, without referring to and explaining that infamous history, claim as their own the intellectuals and artists Germany disowned under Nazism.”
    Why do you feel the publications continue to ignore the past? And will this process of denial ever stop?

    Question #2: For Josie Levy:
    What made you decide to write in the third person? Was it easier this way for you to reflect on your emotions and cope with your past?

Summary of Classroom Discussion (back to top)

  • to be added someday from my class notes or watching the video

prepared for web by H. Marcuse on Jan. 18, 2010, updated: /10
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