German/Danish Town Family Photograph Album (1934)

Figure 1.--Here is a collection of photographs in a album prepared for a little girl's birthday. Inge's aunt abnd grandmother put together a fascinating collection of photographs. Here we see Inge with a boy we believe to be her older brother.

Here we have a family photograph album. It is dated 1934, but of course some of the snap shots could have been taken earlier. Most look to have been taken in the 1980s. The album includes both street and country scenes as well as a wide range of shots of children and adults. The album shows a large extended family. Unfortunately the photographs are not identified so we do not know who are the grand parents, parents, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters, and cousins. The images do, however, provide a wonderful record of village life during the 1930s. One interesting observation in the village scenes is that there are virtually no cars. It makes one think of the Heimat TV program. It looks like the family hd a boy and girl, but there are many more photographs of the girl, so the boy may be a coussin. This is difficult to tell. The album was a very special one, made for a girl named Inge by her aunt and grandmother.

Family Album

Virtually every German family had a photograph album in the family parlor. Construction varied somewhat. This one had a fake crocodile cover and pages held together by string. The photographs of course varied, depending on the interest of the family. Not every family had a camera, but most did. Generally it was the father who was the photographer. The ablums in the 1930s were generally composed of heavy paper on which photographs were pasted or held in place by prepared corners. They were mostly snapshots taken by the father, but other items may be included as well. The album her seems to be entirely family snapshots. The first page includes some writing describing the contents and we learn that this one is a special birthday present for a girl named Inge prepared by her aunt and grandmother in 1934. We see numerous images of the town, Inge, her family, and friends.

The Town: Apenrade

Inge lived in Apenrade which is actually a Danish town. There were many Germans living in the town at the time. It seems to be a good sized town located along a river. There is a church spire rising pcturesqly over the village. We think it was a largely Protesrant village. One interesting observation in the village scenes is that there are virtually no cars. Germany at the time was one of the most industrialized countries in Europe, but large areas of the country were still rural and automobile productuion was relatively small compared to the United States. Denmark was quite similar, although even less industrialized. While Germany was to launch World War II spearheaded by its Panzer force, in fact large sections of the Wehrmacht was not mechanized. Scenes of towns like this show how rural much of Germany was in the 1930s.


Here we see a couple which we beliece are the mother and father. Father seems to be a professional. Perhaps a teacher or lawyer. There are no clues other than they live in a comfortable, but no particularly affluent home. They are pictured with two girls here so there seems to have been two daughters in the family. Perhaps brother took the snap shot. They seem to be enjoying a walk in the country side here. We see many German snapshots like this with families enjoyong walks in the countryside. They seem to have been a very happy family.


We believe that two of the children pictured in the album are siblings, bur we have no way to be sure of this. The girl must be Inge. The rest of the photographs in the album focus more on Inge and her friends than the boy. So they could be cousins, but the way he has his hand around her, a younger sister seems more likely. She wears a knitted dress, presumably made by mother or grandmother with long stockings. We believe that by the 1930s long stockings were more common for girls than boys. The images in the ablum seem to show that. The boy wears a sweater with short pants and kneesocks. Note how he wears his belt over the sweater. The blasck shorts may be part of a Hitler Youth uniform. We do not note many biys wearing black shorts before the 1930s. Also note his short-back-and-sides hair cut.


We find a little surprising that with all the photographs, there is not one of Inge on her first day of school with a bug hair bow and goodie cone. We see so many of those portraits in our German archive. Surely Inge had her photograph taken on the first day of school. Apparently it did not get included in the album. We hope that Inge got her gift cone. There are a few photograpgs of Inge on her way to school because she is wearing her book satchel and lunch container. There is obly one image from the school itself. We see the girls at school being weighed and measured. They are wearing one-piece bloomer outfits. We believe this is their underwear and not gym outfits. I don't think promary children mormally had gym uniforms.

Hitler Youth: Bund Deutscher Mädel

A photograph of Inge shows her wearing a Hitler Youth uniform--the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM). When we first saw this album, we assumed that Inge lived in Germany, both because of her BDM uniform and the town's German World War I menorial. We were rather surprised to see that she lived in Denmark. Other neighboring countries (Austria, Czechoslovakia, France, the Netherlands and Poland) did not allow the HJ to organize and the children to wear HJ uniforms. This image suggests that the family was pro-NAZI. The HJ expanded rapidy after the NAZI take over in 1933, but even in Germany many children were still not HB members in 1934. Of course many Germans who after World War I found themselves living in foreign countries, were attracted by Hitler's highly nationalistic rhethoric wjich offerdcthe hope that he might incorporate achieve union with areas like this. We note that Inge does not have any insignia on her uniform. This might be because she is a new member. Pr it might because Danish authorities did not allow it.


We are not entirely sure, but we think this may be Inge's birthday party. The snapshot seems to be taken in front of the gouse with all her girl friends. We note a not of attention being given to a doll, presumably a birtday gift. The girls seem to be wearing party dresses. There is one boy among the girls, presumably Inge's brother. Curiously he is dressed as if it is Winter. He even wears what looks like a Winter stocking cap. The girls seen to vbe wearing Summer party frocks. Perhaps German readers will have a better idea what is going on here.


Many photographs in Inge's album show here with her friends. Inge seems to have been a popular girl with lots of friends. As was the fashion at the time, girls always wore dresses, for school, play, and dress-up occassions. One question we have about Inge, but cannot be answered by the album was if her friends were mostly other girls paet of the German minority or if she had many Danish friends as well. We are not sure how polarized personal relations were in villages like Apenrade that voted to become Danish after World War I. The fact that she joined the Hitler Youth one would think did not make her popular with the Danish girls in the town. But because Danish and German girls looked and dressed alike, it is impossible to tell from the photographs in the album.


We see Inge on vacation with her family. Not every German family took vacations, but Inge's family seems to have been realtively affluent. They seam to like beach vacations. We see them on boats and at beaches in the Baltic. It seems that their grandparents came along to enjpy the vacation together.


No holiday is more important in Germany than Christmas. And no German family album would be complete without Christmas images. And of course in Inge's special album we see Inge in front of the Christmas tree. She is posing with her dearl little friends--two dolls. Notice the huge Christmas tree. Many German Christmas scenes we have found show very small, often spindly trees. Not Inge's family. We think this reflects the fact that the family lived in a small town or village with firests nearby. It also probably reflectys the fact that the family lived in comfortable circumstances.


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Created: 7:12 PM 11/5/2006
Last updated: 5:41 PM 11/6/2006