Founded in 1938, the Faith and Beauty “Factory” served as a bridge between the BDM girl’s youth group and the National Social Women’s League (the latter of which, interestingly enough, almost every single woman interviewed in the book described as elitist, boring, and uninviting).
The “factory” provided a Nazi-infused education in all aspects of housekeeping (cooking, cleaning, preserving, sewing), the arts (acting & theatre, literature, painting, sculpting, fashion designing), sport, fitness and health (javelin throwing, gymnastics, discs, track & field, dancing, etc), and First Aid and nursing. Eventually training in weaponry and warfare also became part of the regimen. Propaganda dripped through everything like a poisonous IV inserted directly into the women’s veins. Few of the women interviewed were immune to it, and even if they were immune to it, they felt helpless to escape the expectations of taking part especially because one lived in a small town.
As opposed to the BDM, women ages 17 to 21 were encouraged and free to pursue their natural interests and talents by joining their chapters, attending courses and participating in events and trainings. Overall, the “factory” produced an institutionalised unification of the German woman. It manufactured a common bond to serve the Fatherland. The result of which, the women reported, instilled in them a feeling of belonging and a great sense of purpose. The founders and architects of the program envisioned the ideal German woman, prepared to put her talents to use as wife, mother and servant to the Reich’s ambitions.
A good majority of the women interviewed claimed that their parents were either liberals or non-party members and, yet, they did not prevent – or could not prevent — their children from taking part. (One said it was impossible, or their parents would have experienced a backlash.) Some had studied but had to break off their studies because of bombings or lack of money to pay for the university fees. Some then joined the BDM-Werk “because there was nothing else a woman could do. It kept us busy.”