* Germany World War II -- Winterhilfswerk -- Winter Help Work WHW collections

Winterhilfswerk (WHW) Collections

NAZI WHW charity
Figure 1.--Who could turn down these little girls. Of course the Swastica turns us off. But these two charming little girls knew nothing about the horrors being perpetrated in their names. They thought they were helping to care for needy families. The younger child is donating a coin to the annual WHW drive. The Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM) girs are working together collecting coins on the street. Notice the collection can that one girl is holding. We are not sure what the other girl is holding, perhaps a tray with donation pins.

Winterhilfswerk des Deutschen Volkes (Winter Relief of the German People) commonly just called Winterhilfswerk sought to o provide less fortunate Germans with food, clothing, coal, as well as other necessary items throughout the harsh winter months. The slogan was “None shall starve nor freeze”. There were various ways to collect funds. Hitler Youth 'Can Rattlers' were ordered out on to the streets to collect money. Sometimes there were special attractions. The Hitler Youth 'kann klappern' (can rattlers) as they took to the strret were often relentless in their pursuit of coins--an early expression of National Socialist fervor. They would literally rattle their collection cans in the faces of the German people. Every true outstanding German citizen was expected to donate to the cause. And no HJ child wanted, either the boys or the girls, to turn in an empty can so they were hughly motivated not to accept no for an answer from the people they encountered. And no child we know of was ever punished for being too persistant. What mattered was how full the can was. At first these WHW collection efforts were conducted on street corners and there were only a few HJ children. As the HJ membership increased, the number of encounters increased. The children some of whom were quite young like these girls began going door to door so they would not have to go very far from their neigborhoods. There were also donations in kind, such as clothing drives. The children were issued heavy cast iron collection cans. You can see one very clearly here. Contributors were given donation pins to wear and show that they had contributed. There were many different styles. We have some information about the cans and pins. One source tells us, "The donation pins were issued on a limited basis. This was done so that it was obvious who had donated recently." And as the Can Rattlers became pin experts, they knew all about the pins. They could immediately see if a person had not donated recently and would really persist. German children before the NAZIs were trained to be very defferential toward adults. The HJ movement in many ways was a youth empowerment movement. This was by design. Hitler realized he could not convince many adults of National Socialist principles. The yoith were a different proposition. These WHW collections were just one small part of that overall process. Donations were theoretically voluntary. Those who did not give might have their names put in the paper to shame them into giving. Can Rattlers operating in their neigbohood would know many of the people they encounteted. And they would repirt back to their HJ leaders peoole who refused to donate, especially if they were brusk. HJ leaders were incontact with their Blockleiter (Block Leader). People were constantly under observation by their Blockleiter. Neighbors were encouraged to report suspicious behavior to their Blockleiter. A NAZI Blockleiter was a Party not government fuctionary. He (it was almost always a man) was the lower level Party political rank. He was responsible for the political supervision of a defined neighborhood. And this included not making WHW donations. There were even procecutions for not making 'voluntary' donations. One civil servant was prosecuted for redusing to donate. He protested that it was a voluntary drive. The court dismissed the Orwellian argument that it was an extreme view of liberty to neglect duties not actually prescribed by law and therefore an abuse of liberty. [Mazower, p. 36.] Anbd people lost their jobs fior not donating. The firings were upheld by a labor court on the grounds that it was 'conduct hostile to the community of the people [...] to be most strongly condemned'. [Shirer] The WHW collections would continue into the final year of NAZI rule, the 1944-45 winter with Allied armies at the borders of the Reich.


Mazower, Mark. Dark Continent: Europe's 20th Century (1998).

Shirer, William. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (Simon & Schuster Touchstone Edition: New York: 1990).


Navigate the CIH World War II Section:
[Return to Main German World War II home front Winterhilfswerk page]
[Return to Main German World War II home front page]
[Return to Main country homefront page]
[Return to Main World War II displaced children page]
[About Us]
[Biographies] [Campaigns] [Children] [Countries] [Deciding factors] [Diplomacy] [Geo-political crisis] [Economics] [Home front] [Intelligence]
[Resistance] [Race] [Refugees] [Technology]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Return to the Main World War II page]

Created: 7:32 AM 5/14/2020
Last updated: 6:19 PM 5/14/2020