Hitlerjugend: An In-Depth History: Kinderlandverschickung (KLV)
by Arvo L. Vercamer

The KLV effort (sending children into camps in the countryside) can be traced back over 100 years when German churches in the 1800's sent children to outlying rural regions for rest and relaxation purposes. During the Weimar Republic, KLV efforts were espoused by many German political parties; strongly by the SPD. Children either remained in special camps or they were lodged with individual families.

In the fall of 1940, German political leaders anticipated that British bombers would increase their bombing missions over Germany greatly in the near future. As with British evacuation efforts, the Germans too planned to evacuate as many small children as possible to rural areas; to get them out of harms way. In this instance, the old KLV efforts were the answer.

On September 26th, 1940, Hitler ordered Baldur von Schirach to organize a comprehensive Kinderlandverschickung (KLV) effort for the whole German Reich.

Von Schirach had to start from scratch. Although the German Luftschutz and Red Cross organizations were prepared to deal with an air war directed against German cities - no one had foreseen the need to evacuate children into the surrounding rural areas (1939 Westwall evacuation excepted). Von Schirach issued his first decree regarding the KLV program on September 27th, 1940.

For this effort, the German government requisitioned appropriate quarters for children from inn/hotel keepers as well as farmers and private homeowners (they were compensated under the Reichsleitungsgesetz of 01 September 1939). The Deutsche Reichsbahn (DR) facilitated with all movement needs and the Agriculture and Foodstuffs Ministry arranged for extra food rations to be delivered to the affected communities. The evacuation was free of charge; the needed funds were made available at the federal level. Of note is that the evacuation effort was on a voluntary basis.

BDM youths played an instrumental role in the evacuation efforts of 1940/1941. They helped thousands of mothers and their small children pack, move and relocate out of harms way as quickly as possible under the existing conditions.

Initially, the evacuation of children applied only to Berlin and Hamburg. Between September and November of 1940, over 200.000 small children were evacuated from Berlin alone. KLV camps were as hard on mothers as they were on children. While every effort was made to make each guest feel like they were at home - they were not at home, they were in a camp. In many cases, the rules and regulations of the KLV camps were places where camp administrators could play "power politics" with mothers and children.

In addition to the use of requisitioned rooms and homes, the KLV also established a number of special evacuation camps. These camps contained schools, medical facilities, dining facilities, etc. Both HJ and BDM youths helped to run the KLV camps.

After the defeat of the German military forces at Stalingrad, Germany was forced to begin evacuating the evacuation camps it had established in its far rear areas; such as those, which were established in Bulgaria and Romania. New KLV camps were erected in Bohemia and Moravia, which was thought to be a safer area. Both the Soviet and the western Allied forces overran many of the KLV camps in the last months of the war.