Background: The Frauen Warte was the Nazi Party’s bi-weekly illustrated magazine for women. This 1940 article discusses Nazi programs set up to educate brides and housewives. The article includes some pictures, which are available here.
The source: “Gelernt ist gelernt: Mit Bildbericht aus der Reichsbräuter- und Heimmütterschule Husbäke in Oldenburg, NS Frauen Warte, 8 (#22), 2. Maiheft 1940.
An Illustrated Report from the Reich Brides’ and Housewives’ School at Husbäke in Oldenburg
The mother helped set up the little two-room apartment, which brings with it particular difficulties because of the war. The young couple had their meals with acquaintances during this period. Now, the young woman, who formerly had a job, stands for the first time at her new kitchen table and asks: “What shall I cook?” Her mother, whom she could ask before, has left. Her husband will come home in the afternoon, tired and hungry from his labors. Before then, she needs to clean the house and do the shopping. The curtains need to be hemmed, and there are many other things to do as well. “Where do I start, and how can I finish it all? she asks herself. She has forgotten her job, which she did not believe she could live without, as well as the honeymoon that is just finished. A pile of everyday tasks awaits the young wife. She pages through the cookbook that her former job mates gave her as a going away present.
A small booklet falls out with a hand-written title: Reich School for Brides at Husbäke — Recipes. Suddenly she recalls the six weeks she spent in Husbäke between leaving her job and getting married. Each day she wrote down a recipe for a meal. For her first three weeks, the young woman belonged to the cooking team and could prepare the recipes herself. How many meals had she prepared, after initial training, which had been devoured by twenty other critical brides, and that also earned the approval of the kitchen training staff! She will prepare one of these recipes for her husband! She looks through the booklet for a recipe whose ingredients are in season and available in the shops. The kitchen training staff had repeated told the young brides that even the smallest household had to take account of the larger economic situation. Suddenly, it becomes clear to the young woman, at the start of her career as a housewife, how much depends on these millions of housewives who each day transform money into goods, as she will do today. The theory she learned in Husbäke will become reality. She jots down on a slip of paper what she needs to buy. Then she works out a plan for how she will spend her day. A lot of time was spent on this at Husbäke. The young woman remembers many tips her teachers gave her about housework, which at the time had not seemed very important to her. Now, she wants things to be as clean and neat as they were at Husbäke. Sometimes, the girls had complained when the wash basins were not clean enough for the staff or the beds were not made properly. In general, however, the girls were happy that they were well trained. They all realized how useful their careful training would be once they had their own homes.
The young woman will also buy a few flowers. Her greatest pleasure in Husbäke was to decorate the table on Sunday. During the lectures on interior decoration, she had taken particularly good notes on caring for flowers and on inexpensive, attractive table decorations. She will set aside part of her household money for this purpose. It occurs to her that she has still not worked out a household budget. In her notebook from Husbäke, she laid out a household budget for a family with an income of 200 marks a month. At the time, she was surprised how many things have to be provided for in a family budget. Using that as a basis, the young woman will sit down with her husband this evening to work out a budget for their new household.
The young woman is happy that she learned to use a sewing machine in Husbäke, though it was hard going at first. She can do the curtains herself, saving money that is urgently needed for other things. She will also be able to use what she learned at Husbäke to make simple skirts and household clothing, for which she already has the material. While occupied by these thoughts, the young woman has finished with the kitchen and is now straightening up the bedroom. As she recalls her days at Husbäke, she often hears the angry cries of a baby next door, who seems be all alone. Then she hears a woman run up the steps, open the door, and calm the baby with her loud voice. The neighbor had to go shopping, and had no one with whom she could leave the sick child. She will have to introduce herself soon to her neighbor, and say that she will be glad to keep on eye on the child when the mother has to go out.
She well be able to put to good use what she learned in the child care course at Husbäke She looks forward to feeding the baby. As she quickly does her work, she thinks back on the Reich Brides’ School. The days were full, the training thorough, and the evenings of reading, singing, and games were delightful. The future families they would have as wives and mothers were always at the center of the program. That gave the six weeks the unity and organization that so pleased the brides, creating that atmosphere of community that would last past the course. The fact that most of the girls were engaged to soldiers at the front strengthened the sense of togetherness, both in good and bad times. How happy the young woman is that she can still be with her husband. She wants to use weeks until he may be called up to build a comfortable home for him and make the few weekend hours he has at home warm and treasured. The weeks she had at Husbäke refreshed her after years of a strenuous job, and what she learned there will help her in her daily tasks. With cheerful resolve, she goes about her day’s work!
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